The Difference between Persian and Oriental Carpets: Comparing the quality, design, color, originality and beauty

The Difference between Persian and Oriental Carpets: Comparing the quality, design, color, originality and beauty

The Difference between Persian and Oriental Carpets: Comparing the quality, design, color, originality and beauty

Although the terms Persian carpet and oriental carpet might be interchangeably used by many people, in fact Persian handmade carpets and oriental carpets are different from each other. When they are traditionally considered, these terms refer to the places where the carpets are woven.

In the past, any carpet woven in Asia or the Middle East (including China, India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran) was considered an oriental carpet. Accordingly, it has to be stated that Persian carpet is a subset of oriental carpets. In other words, although all Persian carpets can be regarded as oriental, every oriental carpet has not necessarily been woven in Iran. For some reason, Persian handmade carpets are more popular among the European customers. Since Persian carpet is originally considered an oriental carpet, the two terms are often confused. Today, rather than referring to the place where the carpets are woven, Persian and oriental carpets are more indicative of the technique and design of the carpet. Oriental handmade carpets, especially Persian handmade carpets, are very popular throughout the world. Persian or oriental handmade carpets are woven by craftsmen. Many carpet weaving processes, such as dyeing and spinning, are currently carried out by machines, while Knotting is still done by hand using the same old techniques.

What are the characteristics of a Persian carpet?

Persian handmade carpets are made by Iranian craftsmen who are skilled at unique knitting techniques; however, Turkish carpets are knotted with “double knot” technique. Although Persian carpets are mainly woolen, to weave these carpets, cotton is also used. Persian handmade carpets are generally woven with wools such as camel wool, soft wool and Manchester wool. If you have the chance to find and purchase a silk carpet, take good care of this precious carpet. The reason is because silk carpet is a rare type of carpet and it is less durable than a wool carpet. Many new carpets are woven with silk, mercerized cotton and synthetic fibers such as olefin fibers. Persian handmade carpets have unique patterns and designs which have been passed down from generation to generation. The designs of Persian handmade carpets can be categorized into the following four categories: Afshan, Central Toranj, One-sided and Ghabi. Patterns and motifs observed in Persian carpets have different meanings and many regions have their own specific carpet patterns. Taking a good look at the back of it, you may identify whether a carpet is handmade or not. If you could see the pattern, it is most likely that the carpet was a handmade carpet. You can also fold the carpet to see the fluffs and the knots.

What Is An Oriental Carpet?

What we mean by oriental carpet in this article, is the carpet woven in one of the following East Asian countries except Iran:

• Pakistan

• Turkey

• Afghanistan

• India

• China

• Uzbekistan and other countries

Before Persian carpet weaving techniques and traditions became commonplace in other countries of the region, no carpet in other countries were able to compete with Persian carpets. Nevertheless, craftsmen in other countries gradually became aware of the mystery of Persian knots. The key point to weave a high quality Persian carpet is to know the specific knitting style of Persian carpets.

Differences between Oriental and Persian Carpet

Old handmade carpets have their own specific history. In addition, other criteria including ancient and sophisticated designs, natural wool yarns, durability of the carpets and craftsmanship of weavers have all caused Persian and oriental handmade carpets to be one of the most valuable and popular works of art in the world. Almost all carpets woven in Asia or the Middle Eastern countries, including China, India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, are regarded as oriental carpets. When the Persian Empire was at the peak of its power, handmade Persian carpets were very popular among Europeans. There are subtle differences between oriental and Persian carpets which will be discussed below.

Country where the carpet is made

One of the major differences between Persian and oriental styles is associated with the country where the carpet is made. Handmade carpets woven in East Asian countries other than Iran, such as China, Turkey, Tibet, India, Pakistan and Egypt are called oriental carpets. Handmade Persian rug is also a type of oriental carpet woven in the Middle East.

Number of Knots

Another difference between oriental and Persian carpet is their knitting technique. Using a loom, each and every Raj of noble Persian and oriental handmade carpets is woven by hand. Oriental carpet is woven with symmetrical knots but Persian carpet is generally woven with asymmetric Persian knots. With a large number of knots, Persian carpet is usually considered the highest quality oriental carpet in the world.

Design and Pattern

Nowadays, rather than referring to the place where the carpets are made, Persian and oriental characteristics of carpets are more indicative of the style, technique and design of the carpets. The designs of Persian carpets are named after the city where or the tribe by whom the carpets are produced. Tabriz, Hamedan, Heris, Kashan and Kerman are the most recognized designs of Persian carpets. Persian carpet is basically thick. It has more than 160 knots per square inch with very delicate and beautiful colors as well as unique designs such as paisley, pomegranate flower, Shah Abbasi flower and criss cross. In contrast, oriental carpet designs reflect the prevalent traditions and customs of the region where the carpet is woven. For instance, silk carpets woven in China, are decorated with Buddhist motifs and possess traditional color combinations.


There are some materials which are usually shared in oriental and Persian carpets. Depending on the choice of the weaver and where they are made, Persian carpets are usually woven with camel wool, soft wool and Manchester wool. In addition, cotton yarn is sometimes used in the carpet. It is interesting to know that soft wool is obtained from the hair grows on sheep’s neck and it is more expensive than the ordinary wool. Oriental carpets are woven with long fluffs or they are woven fluffless and flat, using materials such as silk, wool and cotton. Since oriental carpets possess a higher percentage of cotton, they are more vulnerable and less valuable to collectors.

Washing by Hand

Traditional method of washing carpets by hand is one of the key differences between oriental and Persian carpets. One of the reasons why Persian carpets are softer is that they are hand-washed in a traditional way.

Important Tips for Purchasing a Persian Handmade Carpet

Every city in Iran has its own handicrafts which are regarded as valuable souvenirs. But among them, Persian carpet is a great choice. Even if we do not consider the price variation of handmade carpets, since there are varieties of handmade carpets, choosing an ideal carpet from among the many designs and colors is difficult and confusing. To help you make a better purchase, below is a brief guide to buying Persian handmade carpets.

Number of Knot

Since noble Persian handmade carpet is woven on a loom, one of the most significant points to consider is the number of knot. A high quality carpet has at least 120 knots per square inch. Purchasing a carpet, you may need to take a look at the back of the carpet and its knots in order to pretend that you are an expert. Although you are not expected to count the knots, observing the back of the carpet will suggest you some useful tips. Back of the handmade carpet is soft and there you can usually find a few larger knots. This non-uniformity of knots indicates that it is a handmade carpet.


Persian handmade carpets are generally woven with wool, silk or a mixture of wool and silk. A 100 percent silk carpet is very delicate and has a glossy finish. Wool is, however, the most widely used material for carpet weaving. The quality of the wool depends on many criteria including races, climatic conditions, pastures and the time of sheep-shearing. Wool and silk are two high-quality natural materials which possess high fire resistance, while machine made carpets are woven with synthetic fibers and are flammable.


Old Persian handmade carpets were dyed with natural materials. The colors used in noble Persian carpets were derived from the nature. They included red dye derived from cochineal insects, blue color derived from Indigo plant and yellow color derived from pomegranate. Synthetic dyes usually penetrate the fibers in a uniform manner however, natural dyes cover the surface. You may bend the carpet and consider a few strands of yarn. If the colors were not uniform, it would indicate that the carpet yarns had probably been dyed with natural colors.

Decide where you are going to use the carpet

First of all, decide on a place where you intend to spread the carpet. Being a luxury good, silk carpet is less resistant to pressure and therefore it is mostly regarded as a decorative. For instance, you can hang the carpet on the wall. A wool carpet, on the other hand, is very durable and can last for decades, even if it is constantly used in high-traffic areas of your home. Additionally, wool carpets are great options for families with young children because they can hide carpet stains with their rich colors.

Different Types of Carpets

There is not just one type of Persian carpet. People usually confuse Kilim (a flat tapestry-woven carpet) and Gabbeh (a hand-woven pile rug of coarse quality usually woven by the nomads) with traditional Persian carpets only because they are simply woven in Iran. Although, all handmade carpets are stunningly beautiful, to make an ideal purchase, you may need to know the differences between different types of the carpets.

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