Persian Carpet Designs

The important factor that has made the carpets of this land world-famous is their pleasant, varied and unique design. Each Persian carpet has a design of its own so that thousands of fascinating designs can be seen in the whole range of Persian carpets; each being very beautiful and possessing perfect harmony.
The designs of Persian handmade carpets can be categorized as Shah-Abbasi, Eslimi, Vase, Herati, Tree, Boteh, Kheshti, Historical places, Mehrabi, etc.

When the Persian artists came into contact with the culture of new settlers in the country, they selected the most appealing ones. They incorporated them into their designs. And the artists were able to raise the art of carpet design to its highest level.

The joint efforts of the designers, dyers, and weavers resulted in the production of stunning pieces of art: the “Persian Carpet”. The durability and unique fineness, the special quality of the material used and brilliant fast colors, gave Persian carpets their worldwide reputation.

Progress towards the perfection of the designs of Persian carpets was gradual. According to historical evidence, the designs prior to the Safavid dynasty were all geometrical. During this period, the art of carpet design, like other fine arts, reached perfection.

The attractive designs of Persian carpets and the harmonious dyes have for many years been accepted by all those interested in carpets. Today, most of the carpet weaving centers in the world, fully aware of this universal acceptance, weave their carpets with Persian designs and do not make much effort to present new designs, as they feel that they cannot improve on the existing ones.

With the exception of those carpets portraying scenes or faces, most Persian carpets are symmetrical.

Classification of the Persian carpets based on their design

All the motifs and figures which constituted the design are made from composition, contact, rotation, and balance of the lines.
If the lines along their route make angles, the design is in geometrical style. But if the lines in their course don’t make angles, the design will be classified in the curvy-linear group. Should the lines of the design in some part of their route make angles and in others make roundish movements, the design belongs to the stylized group.

All Persian designs are categorized into two main groups: tribal and urban design.

Tribal Designs

These designs have been influenced by old and noble Persian Patterns that were created by the native carpet weavers. The simplicity of life enjoyed by the weavers is reflected in the style of their production. In spite of the patterns, which are not ordered and regular, the designs are still attractive and pleasant.

The designers have transferred these patterns from one district to another so that these designs can be found from the furthest east to the furthest west of the country.
Sometimes these designs are recognized by the name of the production zone such as Mazlaghan, Ferdous, Veis, and may take the name of the Chieftain such as Salar-Khani, Yaghub­Khani, and Ali- Mirzai. Heibat-lu is one of the most famous patterns of this group which is associated with Abadeh in the province of Fars. Most tribal designs are in geometric and stylized style.

Urban Designs

The designs of urban carpets in comparison to tribal patterns are more elaborate and precise. In order to realize them, the weaver needs to use the template. Every compartment of the millimetric template sheet represents one knot of the carpet.

Here below we study thirteen kinds of designs:

Medallion Design

Most Persian carpets are decorated with medallion, (Toranj), and corners. The medallion is always located in the center of the layout and the shape may be round, oval, rhomboid or radial of different sizes which varies according to the taste and custom of the weavers.
Instead of a single medallion, we may find two or three medallions on the central line of the carpet. Usually, on the top and bottom of the medallion there are two pendants, (Sartoranj). One-fourth of the medallion shape or something of a similar form, when repeated in the corners of the field, is named corner Lachack.

Medallion used in Kashan Carpet
Medallion used in Kashan Carpet

Shah Abbasi design

The basic sketch is formed from specially designed flowers, which are known as Shah Abbasi. It is set off by other floral designs and occasionally Eslimi motif, these abstract flowers form the main design in the field and the border, all over (Afshan), medallion Sheikh-Safi, tree, animal, turreted medallion are the better known in the secondary group of this design.

Shah Abbasi Designs
Shah Abbasi Designs

Arabesque (Eslimi)

Abstract circular branches of a tree amidst leaves are the basic form of this design. The branches are adorned with foliate spurs known as Eslimi. There are many kinds of Eslimi designs predominating in some carpets of which the Dahan Ajdari is the best known.

Eslimi Design
Eslimi Design

Vase (Goldani)

The shape of the vase in different sizes can be seen in the carpet of this category. Some large vases are repeated throughout the ground. Mehrabi vase, Zell-e-Sultan vase, Haj-khanumi vase, all over the vase is the minor groups of this design.

Vase design
Vase design

Harati design

This beautiful nomadic design was created in the city of Harat (the capital of Timur) now in Afghanistan. A basic sketch is formed from a central diamond-shaped figure framed b four slightly curling leaves which could be repeated in the field and the borders. Entwined fish (Mahi-dar-ham) pattern is one of the sub-patterns of this category which was produced for the first time in Khorasan but gradually it found its way to other carpet weaving areas of Iran. Sub – patterns are: Mahi (fish) Farahan, Mahi Sanandaj.

Tree design

The base of this design is a tree. Sub-patterns include tree and animal, floral profusion vase tree, cypress tree.

Kashan Carpet with tree design and Hafiz poems
Kashan Carpet with tree design and Hafiz poems

Boteh design (Paisley Pattern)

Boteh Motif
Boteh Motif

The Boteh design is the abstract form of the cypress tree common in both Indian and Iranian patterns from olden times and for many years it had had a good market. There various forms and sizes in the Boteh design in Iran. The most famous forms are Boteh jegheh, Boteh terme, Boteh Saraband or Boteh Mir, Boteh Ghalamkar Isfahan, Boteh Kurdistani, and Boteh Afshari.

Boteh Design
Boteh Design

Panel design (Kheshti Design)

The field of the carpet in this design is divided by some lateral panels and the carpet looks just like a chess-board. The interior of each panel is decorated by the traditional motif of each district such as a vase, Boteh, bunch of grapes, willow, flowers, birds, animals, etc. This design which is originally from the Bakhtiari area is appreciated also by the craftsmen of Tabriz, Qom, and Birjand. Sub-patterns are Bakhtiari panel, Eslimi panel.

Kheshti Design
Kheshti Design

Historical Building Design

To create these designs the inspiration has been taken from the tile work and architecture of ancient buildings. In the course of history, carpet designers have copied the main patterns and created similar designs. Some of the most famous of the relic are Sheik Lotf-ollah mosque, Takhte-Jamshid ( Persepolis ), Taghe-Bostan.

Carpet with design of internal view of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque's dome
Carpet with the design of internal view of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque’s dome

Portrait and Pictorial Design

In this kind of design, political personages, portraits, landscapes, and paintings are depicted. This kind of design is common in the high-level workshops of Tehran, Tabriz, and Kerman.

 Small Tabriz rug with historical building design. "Taj Mahal Monument
Small Tabriz rug with historical building design. “Taj Mahal Monument

Prayer (Mehrabi) Design

The prayer niche in the mosque where the Imam prays inspires the basic design of the rug. Some ornaments such as columns, headband, candelabrum (Ghadil), Shah Abbasi flowers, may enrich this design. Among the numerous variations are tree prayer (Mehrabi Derakhti), vase prayer (Mehrabi Goldani), and candelabrum prayer (Mehrabi Ghandili).

 Mehrabi design
Mehrabi design

Afshan Design

Normally in carpet designs, all the components and forms are joined and linked together. As if the painter’s pen has never ceased its movement from the beginning until the end of the sketch. In the Afshan design, the flowers, branches and other motifs are scattered on the surface of the carpet without being joined.

Well-known patterns in this group are Afshan Shah Abbasi, Afshan bouquet of flower, Afshan gul Farang.

 Afshan design
Afshan design

Interconnected (Bandi) Design

When a small portion of a design is repeated and connected throughout the length and width, the pattern is called interconnected (Bandi).

Sub patterns of this group are known as Bandi Varamin or Mina – Khani, Bandi Eslimi, Bandi Mullah Nasreddin, interconnected cartouche, interconnected deer horn (Bandi Shakh Gavazni).

Bandi design
Bandi design

Stripped (Moharramat) Design

This name is applied to designs that are repeated in narrow strips along the length of a carpet. Each strip has its own specific color and design in some areas of Iran this pattern is also known as Ghalamdani. Boteh Moharramat is one of the sub-patterns of this design.

Reference: “The Persian Carpet” by Javad Nassiri

Read More:

The origin of Persian Carpet

History of Persian Handmade Carpets

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