Decoding Common Motifs and Symbols on Persian Rugs

Since the first were created, Persian rugs have been designed to protect their owner from misfortune through a woven poetry of symbolic motifs. According to the Oxford Dictionary, motifs can be defined as “decorative designs or patterns.”  Using a system of patterns, colors, and symbols, each Persian rug tells its own story. Some rugs give a vivid description of a religious scene, while others may represent a place, or explain the purpose for the rug.When looking at the design of a Persian rug, everything that you see has a symbolic meaning, down to the smallest detail.

Reading Between the Lines

Persian rugs are known for being rich with intricate images and colors that follow a specific pattern. In the center of most Persian rugs, you will find the medallion, or the Gul. Just like the Sun, which it proudly represents, the Gul is the main star which all other designs are centered around. It is also very common to see a droplet-shaped pattern called Boteh. This floral spray is usually pictured with a Cypress Tree and represents life and eternity. Other popular motifs you will find on Persion rugs are; stars to represent luck and good fortune, amulets to drive away evil, and diamonds, which can represent women, or men and women together, depending on if they are shown on their own or attached together.

Natural Elements

Elements of the natural world hold a special meaning within many cultural practices, such as rug-weaving. One of the more frequently seen is the Tree of Life. This sacred symbol of divinity is seen as a direct path from earth to heaven. Flowers, such as the Blossom, Lily, and White Rose, represent the innocence of youth and its pureness. Others have bolder meanings within wealth, power, and passion, such as the Peony and the Red Rose.

Birds & Animals

Similar to natural elements, animals of all species are seen as strong symbols in culture and religion. When looking into their deeper meanings, a common theme of guardianship and protection arises. Images of animals such as the eagle, dragon, dog, ram, snake, and parrot all provide the rug’s user with protection from evil forces. Birds are also a sign of good luck and happiness for the future.

Symbolism of Color

The colors displayed in a Persian rug hold as much symbolism as the motifs themselves. Each color brings its own sense of promise and good fortune. The exception to this is black, which is mainly only used for borders and outlines. Bold colors like red and yellow represent power, as well as wealth, courage, and joy. Green is the holy color, and is usually associated with hope and the upcoming Spring season. To learn more about the meanings of color in Persian rugs, read our blog.

Contact Us to Find Your Next Persian Rug in Shrewsbury, MA

Although rug-reading is becoming a lost art, by passing your Persian rug through generations, you can keep their stories alive. For further information on the symbolism of Persian rugs, or any other inquiries, please contact Persia Oriental at (508) 753-4667