• Drawing the cartoon for Persian and Turkish Oriental Rug Design
  • Persian and Turkish Oriental rug designs and patterns
  • Example of Oriental All Over Boteh rug design pattern
  • Example of Central Medallion rug design pattern
  • Example of Islimi Floral rug design pattern
  • Example of Herati rug design pattern

Rug Buyers Guide

Rug Designs, Motifs & Patterns

Rugs are made up of a layout and a design which includes one or a number of motifs. The Iran Carpet Company, a specialist in the subject, has attempted to classify Iranian carpet designs. They have carried out studies of thousands of rugs. Their results show that there have been slight alterations and improvements to almost all original designs. The company has classified the original designs as the 'main pattern' and the derivatives as the 'sub patterns'.

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They have also identified 19 groups, including: historic monuments and Islamic buildings, Shah Abbasid patterns, spiral patterns, all-over patterns, derivative patterns, interconnected patterns, paisley patterns, tree patterns, Turkoman patterns, hunting ground patterns, panel patterns, European flower patterns, vase patterns, intertwined fish patterns, Mehrab patterns, striped patterns, geometric patterns, tribal patterns, and composites.

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Turkish and Persian Carpet Design


Rug Design can be described in terms of the manner in which it organizes the field of the rug. One basic design may serve the entire field, or the surface may be covered by a pattern of repeating figures. In areas using long-established local designs, the weaver often works from memory, with patterns passed on within the family. This is usually sufficient for simple rectilinear designs. For the more elaborate curvilinear designs, the patterns are carefully drawn to scale in the proper colors on graph paper. Each square thus becomes a knot, which allows for an accurate rendition of even the most complex design. Designs have changed little through centuries of weaving.


Rugs are typically designed using one of three patterns: all-over, central medallion and one-sided (unidirectional). Some abstract asymmetrical designs can be found but most of these can be described as one-sided, or unidirectional.

The most common layout is the central medallion , placed either as a single element at the center or in a repeating column within the field. Spandrels are usually placed at the four corners of the field.

Some of the most popular rugs have an “all-over” design within the field. Small motifs in repeating columns, such as the Herati or boteh, create the pattern.

Prayer rugs are typical of the “one-sided”, or unidirectional layout. The triangular niche, known as the mihrab, is pointed in the direction of Mecca. Another example of unidirectional design is the Tree of Life.


There are a number of patterns found in Oriental rugs called “motifs”. These designs have different meanings. The motif of a carpet can be used to determine the particular tribe, or the area in which the rug was woven. It is not unusual to find more than one motif in a single rug.

Some of the more common motifs are: Boteh, Gul, Herati, Mina-Khani, Rosette, Shah Abbasi, Azari Kharchang and Islimi Floral.

Some of the most popular rugs have an “all-over” design within the field. Small motifs in repeating columns, such as the Herati or boteh, create the pattern.

Prayer rugs are typical of the “one-sided”, or unidirectional layout. The triangular niche, known as the mihrab, is pointed in the direction of Mecca. Another example of unidirectional design is the Tree of Life.


Boteh Design

Boteh: paisley design which is fundamentally of Persian origin (example of motif)

The precursor of the Indian paisley. A pear-shaped figure usually used in the field of an all-over repeat layout. There are many versions of boteh from geometric to curvilinear and simple to complex. Boteh has been thought to symbolize a leaf, a bush, a flame, or a pinecone. The boteh represents the ever present potential for growth and regeneration. It was very inspiring to the Caucasian tribes people that the magic of growth and abundance was possible even in the adverse conditions under which they lived. The boteh often encloses a mature plant within it, symbolizing that the whole always exists within the part.


Gul Design

Gul: flower in Persian

A medallion of octagonal or angular shape used in Turkmen designs. It is often found in a repeating, all-over pattern in the main field of Turkmen rugs, bags and other weavings.

There are many different types of gul, many of them associated with specific Turkmen tribes from which they take their name. Thus, there are Tekke guls, Salor guls, Ersari guls, Yomut guls, and so forth. Identifying which tribal tradition a gul belongs to, however, can be extremely difficult, not only because many guls are quite similar, but also because gul designs, despite their tribal moniker, were rarely exclusive to one tribe. In modern rugs, guls are used freely by non-Turkmen carpet weavers as well.


Herati Design

Herati: probably meaning of the region Herat

This pattern gets it's name from Herat, in western Afghanistan. Herat was historically one of the greatest artistic centers in the Middle East, and it continues to be a thriving center of the arts in the modern world. The motif consists of a flower inside a diamond and curving leaves outside the diamond which are parallel to each side. The Herati motif is commonly used in the field of an all-over layout. The leaves sometimes look similar to fish.

Many versions of Herati pattern exist from geometric to curvilinear and simple to complex.

Azari Kharchang

Azari Kharchang Design

Azari Kharchang: a motif with Turkish Caucasian origin

This motif is usually used in geometric and kilim designs and is derived from the figure shape idea of the crab.

Islimi Floral

Islimi Floral Design

Islimi Floral: biomorphic floral patterns

The Islimi floral motif has a Persian origin. This motif was mostly used in the rugs of ancient period. These motifs are genuinely found in Shah Abbas rugs and Isfahan rugs. The motif is based on arabesque forms (intertwining leaves, stems, vines and blossoms).

Just a note to say "thanks" for the great rug that I purchased from you during the holidays. I found some clips that have plastic inserts so they do not damage the rug and I hung it in my office. I've also started reading about Persian rugs and I'm having a lot of fun going to estate sales in L.A. and checking out the bargains. Thanks again for making our trip so much fun.

Mark Dawson

While visiting Santa Fe, my wife and I bought a small Turkman rug in your gallery. It arrived today. The new fringe looks great, and the mat makes a big difference. Thank you. It's beautiful.

Peter H. Pawlowicz

Thank you so much for the runner. It goes with the hassock you so extremely kindly gave me last year. It also perfectly fits a traffic pattern in my house. It's lovely.


We wish to thank you for the two beautiful rugs we now have hanging in our house. Also we very much appreciate the prompt response to my request to see more rugs made in Persia. The copy of your rug book and the appraisal arrived also.

Smitty Hoegstett

Many thanks for the rugs. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.I'm sure we will be associated in the future.

Ernesto & Amanda


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