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Article: What Do The Signs And Symbols On Various Antique Carpets And Rugs Mean

What Do The Signs And Symbols On Various Antique Carpets And Rugs Mean

What Do The Signs And Symbols On Various Antique Carpets And Rugs Mean

It is easy for experts who live and breathe carpets and rugs all their lives to know the difference between an authentic and factory-made product and an Oriental or Persian rug. However, for the average person, this can be hugely challenging as the differences are not very obvious.

The same stands true when it comes to understanding the various symbols and signs seen on Persian and Antique rugs. The weavers who have produced the best Persian, Oriental, and other antique rugs have a story to tell about every carpet. These stories are entwined within the stitches of these carpets and can be decoded and read by those passionate about carpets and researchers who spend a lot of time studying them.

When you learn in detail about the symbols and patterns and know how to read them, you will be able to understand the intricacies of carpet making and the stories behind their creation. The best experts from the top rug store in San Rafael can tell about a rug’s place of origin, the community associated with its making, and other insights merely by looking at the creation and its detailing.

In this blog, we will try to go behind the scenes and unravel the secrets of the various symbols, motifs, and designs found in Istanbul rugs and carpets.

Rug Design Components

A rug design is made of several components. Let’s have a closer look at them:


Every rug has two borders. The main border is wide and runs across the edge of the rug. There is a narrow border called the guard border, which lies inside the main border.


The field refers to the background inside the borders and is generally very colorful and bright.


Most of the rugs have a medallion crafted in the middle of the field. This is fairly large in size and has a round or oval shape. Some medallions may be polygonal as well. It is the center of attraction of a rug and grabs attention because of its prominent size and location on the rug.

Corner Designs:

Corner designs are in the form of brackets, quarter panels, or spandrels and fill the corners of the field.


All rugs will typically have patterns all over. These are known as motifs. They are formed around the central medallion.

Origin Of Antique Rugs

Rugs and carpets have their origin in various places across the world. They need not have a pure Oriental origin. Each rug and the carpet-making region has its own distinct and unique identity. That’s why Oriental rugs need not be from the Oriental region. You can find the finest Oriental carpets and rugs in the leading Istanbul rugs store in San Rafael.

Symbols In Oriental Rugs

The colors in Oriental rugs are not chosen randomly for look and effect. They have a story to tell. Here is a look at the meaning of different colors used in antique carpets and rugs:

  • Red represents luck and joy. It also indicates wealth, beauty, and courage.
  • White is indicative of cleanliness and purity.
  • Blue indicates solitude, truth, and even the afterlife
  • Black represents damage, devastation, and mourning
  • Brown is synonymous with fertility and abundance
  • Yellow is the color of the sun and indicates power and glory
  • Orange is associated with humility and devotion
  • Green represents hope, life, and renewal. It is the color of the Prophet Mohammed, and hence less frequently used sparingly, as it is least likely to be stepped on.

Oriental rugs also have very specific symbols found in various iterations. They are seen in rugs made in places such as Persia, Turkey, India, and others. Top dealers and the leading rug store in San Rafael stocks the finest varieties of Oriental rugs. Some of the commonly used symbols in these rugs are:

  • Ram Horns: It represents strength and bravery. In some instances, it is also a sign of male fertility.
  • Herati: These are diamond-shaped motifs used in ancient rugs. They come mostly from the Afghanistan region.
  • Boteh: It is a motif in the shape of a droplet represented by a floral spray combined with a cypress tree. It represents life and eternity and has a Zoroastrian connection.
  • Elibelinde: It is a motif of a hands-on-hips female figure and believed to be of Turkish origin.
  • It is the Anatolian symbol of the mother goddess, a mother with a child in the womb. It signifies abundance and fertility.
  • Tree of Life: This is a common symbol in many religions and represents the desire for divinity. It is also a symbol of the afterlife and immortality. Many experts associate it with hope and even eternal paradise.
  • Dragon: This is a symbol of power and wisdom
  • Stars and Crosses: These are protective motifs and are commonly found in rugs of varying origins. This symbol is said to offer protection against evil, catastrophes, or ill will.
  • Mihrab: It is a semicircle-shaped design generally seen in the wall of a mosque. It indicates the gateway to Paradise or Qibla, the geographical direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.
  • Camel: This sign on an Oriental carpet indicates strength and endurance.
  • Peony: It is a flowering plant, and this motif indicates wealth and position
  • Lotus: It is a sign of immortality and rebirth
  • Lily: A sign of purity and spirituality
  • Gul: The Gul or the Gol signifies the sun, moon, and stars
  • Ying Yang: A symbol of harmony and balance
  • Amulets: Mostly triangular in shape, these symbols are for driving away evil spirits
  • Birds: Birds on Oriental carpets are in the form of an eagle, peacock, dove, or phoenix. They represent good luck, power, happiness, and love. However, birds such as owls and ravens indicate bad luck and destruction/death

Persian Rugs – What Makes Them Special

Persian rugs are regarded as the finest in terms of quality, finesses, workmanship, and finish. These are some of the most premium-quality rugs available on the market. They are expensive as they are handmade and hence labor-intensive. Some of these pieces of art found in the top rug store in East Bay date back to the BC ages. They are made of the finest wool sourced from sheep that graze on the best greens in Iran.


Legend says that the wool used for making the best Persian carpets are long and has tough fibers. They are shorn only once each year. Their tough composition makes them ideal for rugs as they are exceptionally durable and last for long. The fibers are twisted into threads using bare hands by tribal women. The dyes used for coloring these carpets and rugs are made from natural ingredients such as turmeric, green leaves, acorn shells, and pomegranates. The threads are woven on traditional looms using a single looping knot, in most cases. Istanbul rugs has all the verities of fabric and material.

Symbolism In Persian Rugs:

The symbols used in designing Persian rugs have been handed over by artisans and weavers down the generation. They typically include dense and rich patterns and stand apart because of their striking colors. The medallion motifs are also specific to these rugs. You can head to the premier rug store in San Rafael to buy the best of the lot.

Persian rugs with unique styles and distinguishing features are named after the town or province where it was created. Folklore says that these symbols protect the owners and users of these carpets and rugs from misfortune and often represent historical monuments, images of scenes from daily life, Islamic buildings, trees, and other imagery associated with religion Tree of Life or the Garden of Paradise.

Persian rugs generally have distinct all-over patterns or motifs. They are:


This pattern consists of a diamond framework and a single floral head, surrounded by acanthus leaves curling outwards. As these leaves have a fish-like shape, they are also referred to as Mahi (Persian for fish).


This pattern looks like paisley or a teardrop as it is pear-shaped with an extending arch of flowers that represent the garden of paradise. This symbol reflects fertility.


Some rugs have vases in various patterns as their design. It resembles a Grecian urn and can be with or without handles.


This design makes use of an octagonal pattern that repeats itself to create an elephant’s foot. It is commonly seen in Turkish rugs.


It is a floral motif that follows the French style and has one large flower surrounded by four smaller ones.

Other Common Symbols Seen in Persian Rugs And Its Meaning:

  • Resting eagle: Free Spirit
  • Flying Eagle: Good Fortune
  • Leopard: Gallantry
  • Cypress Tree: Rebirth
  • Parrot: Protection from Danger
  • Peony: Power
  • Peacock: Divine Protection or Eternal Life
  • Hunting Dog: Glory
  • Tree of Life: Truth indicating access from Earth to Heaven
  • Lily: Transparency, Purity
  • Comb: Cleanliness
  • Sun: Brightness, Clarity, Power
  • Star: Spirituality and Positive Energy

Turkish Carpets

Turkish carpets rank among the best when it comes to buying authentic, ancient carpets. These carpets are works of art and have a high value as they are 100 percent original and made by nomadic tribes using traditional carpet-making methods. Turkish carpets are defined by geometric shapes, neat designs, and bright colors. Want to buy the best? The top rug store in East Bay is the right place to make the finest purchase of authentic Turkish rugs and carpets.

Types Of Turkish Carpets:


These were produced by a community of migrating nomads called the Yuruks to keep themselves protected from the severe climatic conditions they encountered during their travel. They lived in tents and used flat-weave rugs without piles as flooring to ensure heat and prevent dampness. These rugs were made using goat’s hair, which is more strong and stiff than sheep’s wool. They also used smaller kilims as prayer rugs. These rugs were appropriately designed for religious relevance and featured the mihrab which indicated the direction of Mecca. Kilims were made using bright colors and had tapestry-like textures. The top rug store in San Rafael is where you will find the widest collection of Kilim carpets.


Oushak rugs were made by a specific community from Usak in Turkey, known specifically for their large scale of work.  These carpets were made using rich wool and fine silk and had used earth tones such as cinnamon, gray, green, ivory, and saffron. Geometric patterns were the most common type of designs on these carpets. Most of them had a central medallion as well.


Kazak is a popular type of Turkish carpet and comes from the Armenian region. It has striking designs, generally in geometrics lines. The border patterns are highly detailed. The blue and red-colored carpets are dyed using the best-quality natural dyes.


This type of carpet is thicker than Kilim and hence more durable and strong. The carpet has a flat weave that creates a smooth front side while giving the backside an unfinished appearance. Like all other Turkish carpets, this one too has bright and vibrant colors.

Symbols In Turkish Rugs

Turkish carpets have typical signs and symbols which are decoded below:

  • Star: The Turks of Central Asia believed that the destiny of people and the movement of stars were intrinsically connected. Stars are hence considered a positive and happy sign.
  • Mihrab: This is drawn to indicate a praying pattern and is seen as the gateway to Paradise.
  • Tree: Trees are created on carpets in groups to symbolize unity and strength. It is also a symbol of reincarnation.
  • Swastika: Popular across the world, this design symbolizes the wheel of destiny. It is said to bring an abundance of good luck to users.
  • Pomegranate: The pomegranate is visualized as a strong token of fertility in Turkey.
  • Triangle/Amulets: These designs are also seen in some rugs. They help protect against the evil eye and foreign dangers.
  • Fruits: Carpet designs with fruits having many seeds (pomegranate and figs) symbolize fertility.
  • Jewels of Mohammed: These are six- or eight-pointed stars seen in Jewish imagery.
  • Ram Horn: These designs are mostly created to symbolize multiplication and creation. The Ram horn is associated with good health, strength, and masculinity, and respect.
  • Ewer or Jug: It is a sign of cleanliness.
  • Eye: This design is said to ward off evil and bad thoughts.
  • Eye and Arrow: When eyes and arrows appear together on a carpet, it is a sign of prosperity brought about by a good harvest.
  • Scorpion: It is said to provide protection from evil.
  • Serpent: wisdom, power, happiness, fertility, a symbol for the god of medicine, warding off malice.
  • Hooks: Hooks represent protection.
  • Ying Yang: This is a sign of smooth harmony and balance of emotions.
  • Comb: A sign of cleanliness which is often combined with Ewer.
  • Running Water: It is a sign of fertility, cleanliness, and of course, life.

Turkish carpets and rugs rarely carry designs that resemble human figures, as it is considered disrespectful to use them as symbols. The only exception is when the image of a departed family member is used to honor their memory.

Moroccan Carpets

Moroccan rugs are symbolic of a rich culture that has many fascinating aspects. As the carpets come from a land of Islamic culture, the rugs have many interesting stories woven within it. The influence of African heritage is apparent through the native textures and bold designs. The chaotic colors of the Moroccan carpets have a charm of their own.

Moroccan carpets date back to recent times (20th Century) and hence feature contemporary designs. While there are creations with flatweaves, the distinctive style of Moroccan rugs and carpets is the shaggy, high-pile look that provided users the warmth they needed in the cold and snowy Atlas Mountains. Moroccan rugs also come in thin variations for those seeking relief from the sweltering Sahara heat. This contrast of Moroccan rugs can also be seen in the signs and symbols which feature a mix of the countryside and the mountains and geometric designs and religious structures. You will find authentic Moroccan carpets of all shapes and types at the leading rug store in San Rafael.

Symbols In Moroccan Rugs

Moroccan rugs are designed to provide shelter from the elements and also protect the spirit. The colors also symbolize something – red for strength, blue for wisdom, yellow for eternity, and green for peace.

Some Of The Typical Symbols Seen In Moroccan Rugs Are:

  • Barley: It is a sign of fertility, rectangle in shape with a checkered pattern of light and dark
  • Bird: It looks like intersecting rectangles. Locals believe it has some kind of divine power called Baraka to fend off the evil eye and misfortune.
  • Cheeseboard: This triangle has multiple alternating small dark and light triangles presented in a checkered pattern. It symbolizes celestial experiences and dizzy spells.
  • Cock: The design of a two-legged figure with a high neck is a sign of prayer and also indicates the rising sun.
  • Crab or Spider: This is created in a stylized manner by overlapping X figures with eight legs. It is said to ward off evil.
  • Cross: The cross is common in all cultures and civilizations and captures the connection between heaven and the earth.
  • Dragon: It is represented in an S-shape with a tail implying a figure standing guard over hidden treasures. It is also a sign of wisdom and positivity.
  • Eye: The eye is created on the rug in a concentric diamond pattern and shows protection against the evil eye. The cross in the middle is said to deflect evil in four directions.
  • Finger: The finger looks like a hashtag but is a symbol of protection
  • Frog: The frog is carved in the form of an ornate diamond and represents fertility
  • Lion’s Paw: This shape is considered a symbol of strength
  • Saw: This appears as a zigzag line with small lines going across it like stitches
  • Seeds: This is in the form of an hourglass shape and represents fertility
  • Snake and Fish Skeletons: It appears in the form of four sets of designs and represents a holy person with magical and healing skills

As is evident from the above symbols, the striking motifs and interesting arrangements of Oriental rugs can weave a rich tapestry of exciting stories that reflect the dreams and aspirations of people who made them with a lot of passion. These carpets are sure to add value to the homes of buyers with their superior quality and uniqueness.

Next, Istanbul rugs is the best place where you can get such beautiful rugs and designs

The Best Place To Buy Antique Rugs And Carpets:

When you plan to buy authentic and 100 percent original Oriental, Turkish, Moroccan, or Persian rugs and carpets, you must first find a reliable resource. Istanbul Rug is a trusted name in all types of ancient and contemporary rugs and carpets. Acknowledged the best rug store in San Rafael, Istanbul Rug boasts of the widest range of high-quality carpets and rugs for customers across all demographics and tastes.

The premier rug store in East Bay is Istanbul Rug store. the right place for buying authentic carpets at the most competitive prices. You are guided into making the best buys based on your needs and budget by experienced staff and friendly staff.

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