Designs of Iranian Carpets uncovered
The overall design of an Iranian carpet or rug consists of background design and that of the margins. The margins make a frame around the main body of the carpet and usually have three sections: inner, outer, and main sections. The size and pattern of the carpet determine the main margin’s design.
Carpet designs may be broadly categorized into two types: revolving; and broken. The revolving carpet designs are made of curved lines that are drawn on checkered paper prior to knotting. The broken ones comprise simple straight lines, which need not be drawn on paper prior to knotting. The latter category is of greater interest to rural and nomadic artists.
Various Carpet Designs
The most famous Iranian carpet designs are the following ones: Triangular Citron, Prayer Niche, Vase, Framed, Tree, Aigrette, Shah Abbas, Arabesque, Portrait, European Flower, Mixed Fish, Striped, four Seasons, Scattering, Turkmen and Hunting Field.
Triangular Citron (Lachak Toranj): First used for the decoration of leather book-covers, it is one of the most beautiful and popular Iranian designs. It has been used in carpets since the 16th century. The citron design is usually round and sometimes elliptical. One-fourth of a citron design appears at every angle of the carpet’s main body.
Prayer Niche (Mehraby): This design has been inspired by arches as well as prayer niches of mosques, but some other decorative elements like columns, flowers, and leaves have been later added to it.
Vase (Goldany): This design consists of various types and sizes of flower vases, which are sometimes full of flowers, and fill the main part of the carpets.
Tree (Derakhty): This design includes magnificent trees, especially cedars and weeping willows, seen on the carpets of royal courts, while simpler trees are seen in those made by villagers and nomadic tribes.
Arabesque (Eslimy): This design consists of plant-like curved patterns and has got a long history in ancient Iran’s decorative arts. The Persian word for Arabesque (Eslimy) has probably been derived from the word Eslimy meaning bud.
One of the most famous types of this pattern is the Dahan Azhdary found in abundance in the Bidjar carpet. In this form, the ending part of each branch is divided into two parts that resemble the jaws of a dragon.
Portrait: This is a design prohibited to be made as Islam entered Iran. It was interpreted as against the principles of Islam at that time. Safavids allowed it again to be implemented to portray kings and world-renowned men like Christopher Columbus.
Mixed Fish: Made first in Herat, it is also known as the Herat design. Herat was an Iranian city before Afghanistan’s independence. This design has four fish around a carpet. The picture of the fish is, at times, so abstract and stylized that it hardly resembles a fish and looks more like a leaf.
Hunting Field: In this design, various kinds of wild animals and birds together with trees are seen. The animals are usually lions, gazelles, wolves, leopards, and deer. Real and legendary animals are usually depicted on different corners of the carpets. In pre-Islamic Iran, this design was used in potteries and textiles. During Safavids, it became popular to create them on the Iranian carpets.
Portrait design, Isfahan
Hunting Field, by Master: Isa Bahadori