For many shoppers, rugs are an entirely foreign subject. Unlike a recliner, desk or dining table, the world of area rugs remains a mystery to most customers. If you recall, back in the fall we discussed the three main style categories of area rugs. However, today we want to discuss the standard by which all other area rugs are judged – the Persian rug! Why are Persian rugs the best money can buy? Let’s discuss!

Persian Rugs: A Brief History

We don’t know exactly when the nomadic peoples of Persia and Central Asia began weaving hand-knotted rugs. The oldest surviving examples, like the Pazyryk Rug, are well over 2,000 years old! From the looks of the fine details and knot-count, people in the region had already been making rugs for untold generations by that point.

Starting in the late 1400s, Persian rug-making began the first of two golden ages. The second golden age would stretch all the way into the early 1900s. By this time, the whole world had learned of the beauty and unmatched quality of Persian rugs. They became a symbol of status and sophistication the world over.

What many don’t realize, is that most Persian rug designs we see today have been passed down from father to son, and mother to daughter for centuries. For instance, your Persian rug from 50 years ago may have been inspired by a rug made for the Shah centuries earlier! But it is not only the designs. The materials, the motifs, the dyes and the weaving methods are all part of thousands of years of cultural tradition. That’s what makes them so special.

Because each rug is hand-knotted, made with real wool, and colored with natural dyes, every single rug is unique. No two Persian rugs are alike. In fact, sometimes artists from the Islamic world take special care to include small inconsistencies if they believe a rug is too perfect, because they believe only God should be perfect. Each of these factors insure that every hand-knotted Persian rug has unique character. However, there is one way Persian rugs are often categorized; tribal rugs, village rugs, and city rugs.

Tribal Rugs

Tribal Persian Rug

Tribal Persian rug featuring rigid geometric shapes

As the name suggests, tribal rugs originate with a number of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes across Iran. Since these tribes live in tents and migrate seasonally, they must carry the rugs with them. As a result, most tribal rugs are fairly small. They also typically feature rigid geometric shapes in their design, which is the result of a lower knot count and higher gauge yarn. However, tribal rugs are some of the most sought after for exactly that reason! Tribal rugs are truly one-off pieces of original art.

City Rugs

City Persian Rug

You can see how intricate the design is by looking at the high knot count on the back of this City Persian Rug


City Persian Rug Knot Detail

Each knot is a little smaller than the point of a ball point pen

By contrast, the city rug is everything the tribal rug is not. Where tribal rugs are small and geometric with low knot counts, city rugs are large, curvilinear, and have very high knot counts. This means that they use very fine wool yarn and arrange the knots very densely. This allows the weaver to create complex patterns with curved lines. In fact, the detail in city rugs is so great that the artisan often draws or paints a copy of the design beforehand to use as a point of reference while weaving. And because they weave them in stationary workshops, city rugs can be made much larger. If a tribal rug is folk art, then a city rug is a fine oil painting on canvas.

Village Rugs

Lastly, village rugs are a hybrid between the previous two styles. As these nomadic tribes adopt increasingly modern lifestyles, many have settled into small, semi-permanent villages. As a result, they began to weave larger, more detailed rugs. A village rug is a compromise which offers features of both city and tribal pieces.

What Makes Persian Rugs So Valuable? Are They Worth It?

Have you ever worked on a project that took you months? How about years? As we discussed above, every Persian rug is hand-knotted by a human being. Large Persian rugs can take multiple skilled artisans an entire year to complete! We have several such examples at Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet! In our instant gratification society, it’s hard to grasp that level of dedication and attention to detail. The truth is that an average Persian rug is better than the highest quality Turkish, Indian, or other “oriental” rug.

Persian rugs are investments in the literal sense. They are the only area rugs that appreciate in value as time passes. They are heirloom quality pieces of unique art that someday you can pass on to your children and grandchildren. This increase in value is partially because of scarcity caused by the history of embargoes and economic sanctions against Iran by the United States. However, this appreciation is also because of cultural changes within Iran itself. As the world becomes a smaller, more modern place, fewer and fewer Persian youth see the value in continuing the craft of their ancestors. Many textile experts believe that the tradition of crafting hand-knotted Persian rugs will dwindle severely within a few decades. This makes Persian rugs increasingly rare and valuable.

What If I’m On a Budget?

All this considered, we understand that Persian rugs aren’t exactly cheap. Here at WFMO, we carry alternatives for any and every budget. This includes machine-made polypropylene copies of popular Persian designs. Think of them as prints of your favorite painting. However, you should know that a few dozen years from now, a real Persian rug will be in much better shape, will continue to hold its color, and will continue to increase in worth long after your machine-made rug wears out.

Customers often come into our rug department shopping for area rugs for multiple rooms in their home, and they figure Persian rugs will be too expensive. If so, we totally understand. But if you’re on a budget, we recommend buying just one or two Persian rugs for your favorite rooms and buying reproductions for the rest. You won’t regret buying an heirloom piece that will last a lifetime!

Atlanta’s Most Exquisite Persian Rugs at Atlanta’s Best Prices!

Sure, we’re not the only store in town selling authentic Persian rugs, but we certainly have the best prices in Atlanta! Why pay exorbitant Buckhead prices when you can pay “Woodstock prices” at Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet? We have hundreds of rugs available, and each one comes with a certificate of authenticity, as well as a detailed history and a map declaring its place of origin.

Whether you’re interested in hand-knotted wool Persian rugs or machine reproductions, we have one of the largest collections in Georgia. Remember, our rug gallery is only at our Acworth showroom! Our area rug specialists are responsible for everything from sourcing to selling, and are committed to nothing but rugs Monday through Saturday. Swing by, have a look, and tell David and Stephen we sent you!