Everybody who owns an Oriental rug is sure to admire its inherent beauty but very few actually know that the patterns of a rug actually have some meaning. Oriental rug weavers tell a story through the patterns that they choose. Knowing a little bit about the patterns will help you to read the rug that you own or if you are shopping for one.
Because the art of weaving was passed down from one generation to the next, most rugs from one tribe tend to have similarities in the patterns woven into the rugs as well as the colors used. This makes it easy to distinguish the different rugs and identify exactly what type of rug it is.
Different Motifs, Symbols And Their Meanings
A Lotus or Peacock symbol represents immortality or rebirth.
Star motifs stand for good luck or spirituality.
A Dog motif symbolizes trust or protection.
Lily stands for purity.
Camels symbolize wealth and prosperity.
Blossom represents spring, youth or newlywed.
Tulip means prosperity.
Pomegranate symbolizes fertility.
White Roses represent innocence, whereas red roses represent passion.
A Boteh motif means flame or universe.
Tree of Life motif stands for a direct path from earth to heaven.
Different types of Jugs or Ewers mean purification.
A Parrot symbolizes protection or escaping from danger.
Eagle and Dragon motifs stand for power.
Hyacinths represent regeneration.
Snakes symbolize wisdom or guardians.
Leaves mean endless regeneration.
Cypress motif stands for serenity or rebirth.
A Rooster or Chicken motif means protection from evil eye.
Patterns Used In Oriental Rugs
Some of the above motifs were created in a more realistic form while others were created as geometric motifs.
The geometric motifs were made up of straight lines that placed horizontally, vertically and diagonally to create the desired design. The same combination of lines was used to create the same motif repeated throughout the rug. These geometric motifs were usually woven over a solid-colored background. Sometimes the rug featured a larger-sized geometric motif surrounded by several smaller motifs that were arranged either symmetrically or asymmetrically around the central medallion.
In the same tribe, even if the weavers used the same type of motifs, it is impossible to find two rugs that look the same. That is because each weaver represented the same motif using their own creativity and imagination.
Colors Matter Too
The colors that were used in the rug were not chosen at random. Weavers chose their colors intentionally to represent different attributes.
Red is used to represent wealth, beauty, faith, joy, and courage.
Yellow represents the joy of life or the sun.
Blue stands for force or power. Sometimes it was used to refer to the afterlife.
Brown stands for fertility.
Orange stands for humility.
Green is rarely used in oriental rugs because it is considered as the holy color of the Prophet Mohammed. It is only used in rugs that that are not intended for use as floor rugs that people will walk on. When used it represents hope, life, and renewal.
Black is also very rarely used as it is considered to be the color of destruction and mourning. Weavers used it only to highlight the outlines of their motifs.
Interestingly, the weavers did not use guides when creating their patterns. They used their surroundings as inspiration and recreated the patterns into the weaving. Some weavers used stories as inspiration. Their patterns tell a story that can only be understood by knowing what the different motifs represent.