Symbols in Oriental Carpets
Persian rugs — considered the grande dame, the queen mother, the standard by which other rugs are measured — are Oriental, though not all Oriental rugs are Persian.
The term “Oriental carpet” applies to those rugs produced in Asia, in the region spanning from India through the Middle East and into China. Oriental carpets may hail from Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Turkey, China or Iran; however, no rug is considered Persian unless it was produced in Iran. Authentic Oriental rugs are hand-knotted.
Colors play a major role in conveying the story of a rug. Green, for instance, is the color of the Prophet Mohammed, and it is used sparingly, as it is least likely to be stepped on. It represents hope, renewal, spring and life. Others are as follows:
Red: wealth, courage, beauty, luck, joy or faith
White: purity and cleanliness
Blue: the afterlife, solitude and truth
Black: mourning or destruction
Yellow: power and glory, joy, the sun
Orange: devotion, piety, humility
Symbols in Oriental carpets can be found in various iterations in carpets from many locations, including Persian, Turkish, Indian and others. The primary symbols include:
Ram horns: a symbol of male fertility, strength, bravery
Herati: mahi flower, fish, good luck
Boteh (paisley): seed of life, fertility, eternal life, pregnancy
Elibelinde (hands on hips): Anatolian symbol of the mother goddess, mother with child in womb, fertility, abundance
Tree of Life: symbol common in many religions, reminds us of our desire to become divine, symbol of the afterlife and immortality, hope, heaven, eternal paradise
Dragon: wisdom, power, guardians of the tree of life, good fortune
Stars and Crosses: protective motifs, found in rugs of varying origins, offer protection against evil, catastrophes or ill will. Connotes happiness.
Mihrab: paradise gateway
Camel: strength, endurance, blessing
Peony: rank and wealth
Lotus: immortality, rebirth
Lily: spirituality, purity
Gul (gol): sun, moon, stars
Ying Yang: balance, harmony
Amulets: Often (but not always) triangular in shape, sometimes in center medallion, intended to rid the user of evil spirits.
Birds: Whether it’s a phoenix, an eagle, a peacock or a dove, most birds symbolize good luck, power, happiness and love. Some birds, however, such as ravens and owls, mean bad luck and death.