What is a Persian Rug?
By definition a Persian rug was woven in the land of Persia, now modern day Iran.
Today the term Persian rug is often used to denote any hand-knotted oriental rug, regardless if it comes from Persia (Iran) or not. Persian rug designs are woven in a number of countries. How long have Persian rugs been woven?
We know that Persian rugs were being woven during the reign of emperor Cyrus the Great of Persia.
That being said, Persian weaving undoubtedly began far prior to being noted historically.
Tribal rugs are woven by various Persian tribes (like the Navajo or Hopi in the U.S.).
The weavers are exclusively women and their rugs exist for personal use or to sell. Often (and certainly historically) the rugs are dyed with natural dyestuffs (indigo for blue, the root of the madder plant for red, saffron for yellow or gold, etc.). Both the pile and foundation of these rugs are wool. While the rugs do not have high knot densities their beauty lies in their simplicity and glowing colors. They can be every bit as valuable as intricate Persian rugs with a great number of knots per square inch.
Village rugs largely have geometric designs.
They’re not always (in fact rarely are) perfectly symmetric in design. This is not considered a fault, in fact it adds to the character of them. There’s no way you would confuse them with a machine-made!
A third category of Persian rugs are city rugs. They are woven in ateliers in cities.
Weaving is closely overseen and the designs are expected to be symmetric, exacting, and highly detailed.
When most people think of Persian rugs they are thinking of city rugs. These rugs have piles of wool or silk. They can have hundreds or even thousands of knots per square inch. The supreme examples of city rugs are the Persian rugs woven for royal courts in the sixteenth century. The royal courts demanded the best and were not concerned with cost. Because of them (and equally impressive weaving in other parts of the world) the sixteenth century is often known as the golden age of weaving.