FIELD TRIP #7 - THE PERSIAN RUG'S "MEDALLION" PATTERN -"GARDEN OF PARADISE"

This past summer, my partner Micheal and I traveled to Israel and Jordan.  While in Jordan we toured the world heritage site, Petra.  The photo opportunities in Petra are endless. As you can see from the photo below, the colorful saddles on the camels are in stark contrast to the rose-tinted walls of Petra.

 Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

The beautiful, bold colors and complicated patterns found in Middle Eastern textiles go back centuries.  These same vibrant colors and motifs are also seen in the rugs of the region.  The skills used to make textiles and carpets have been handed down through time.  As a designer, I was captivated.

 Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Oriental rugs have been a standard in interior design for centuries.  Many collectors regard the Persian rug as the finest of all Oriental rugs.  A rug must be made in Iran to be considered a Persian rug.  True Persian rugs are handmade, use hand-dyed yarns and incorporate traditional weaving techniques.

While exploring Urban Ore in Berkeley, I came across a vintage 3' x 5' Persian rug in very good condition.  Without a second thought, I paid for it and quickly took it home.   I was drawn to the rug's rich, deep colors and stylized floral pattern.  After researching, I discovered the pattern of the rug I purchased is known as "Medallion".   G. Griffin Lewis's book  "The Practical Book of Oriental Rugs", published in 1911, was extremely helpful in providing background information on all aspects of the Persian rug.

 3' x 5' Persian rug purchased at Urban Ore, Berkeley.

3' x 5' Persian rug purchased at Urban Ore, Berkeley.

When it comes to style and pattern, the Persian rug can fall into at least 10 different categories, from Aubusson to Qashqai.   One of the most common patterns is the Medallion (also called Kashan).  This pattern consists of a unique central medallion and a field of floral motif.  The anatomy of the Persian rug in the Medallion style can be seen in the photograph below.

The Iranian people throughout history, have valued  gardens and consider them paradise.  The origin of the word "paradise" comes from the Persian word meaning "enclosed garden".  Formal Persian gardens from the 16th century have inspired today's Medallion patterns.  In fact, a majority of the Persian rug patterns use a floral design.

 Close-up of Persian Rug.

Close-up of Persian Rug.

In the Persian rug, many flowers are easily recognized, such as the tulip, rose, narcissus, and carnation.  Below is a chart showing some of the most common floral symbols found in the Persian carpet.

The value of a Persian rug is determined by whether it is Hand-Knotted vs. Machine Made.  Hand-knotted rugs are made on a special designed loom and, as the name suggests, are knotted by hand.  The making of a hand-knotted rug is an extremely tedious and time consuming process.  A small 3' x 5' rug will take a skilled weaver several months to complete. Hand-knotted rugs are made of wool, cotton, silk, jute or other natural fibers and, if properly maintained, can last generations.

A machine made rug is quickly woven by large powered looms.  The life span of a machine made rug is about 20 years.  These rugs are often made of synthetic fibers.  Machine made rugs are not of any value to a serious collector. 

There are several quick ways you can tell if a rug is hand-knotted or machine made.  When you turn the rug over, a hand-knotted rug will have the same, vibrant design as the front of the rug. 

 Back sideof hand-knotted rug.

Back sideof hand-knotted rug.

Again, looking at the back side of the rug, a hand-knotted rug will have slightly wavy warps and wefts.  These variations are unlike the uniform warp and weft grid of a machine made rug.

 Back side of hand-knotted rug.

Back side of hand-knotted rug.

Finally, a hand-knotted Persian rug will have a sewn label confirming that it is indeed from Iran. 

 Label on back side of rug.

Label on back side of rug.

The Persian rug is renowned for its richness of color, variety of pattern and quality of design.  In the Medallion pattern, the center point represents the eye of an all-seeing deity.  Some say the design is based on the lotus flower, which has always been regarded as sacred.  The surrounding field consists of a flower-filled forest. 

The symbolic meaning of a Medallion Persian rug is "Garden of Paradise", perfect for the home of a garden designer.

Diseñador de Jardín,

Mario

 New home for vintage Persian rug.

New home for vintage Persian rug.