The 10 Most Popular Hand Made Rugs
The Persian and Oriental rug industry is known to offer consumers an extremely wide variety of rugs. Ten of the most sought after and popular handmade area rugs of the 21st century according to most industry experts and rug dealers are:
- Aubusson Rugs
- Bokhara Rugs
- Chobi Rugs
- Gabbeh Rugs
- Kazakh Rugs
- Kilim Rugs
- Oushak Rugs
- Overdyed Rugs
- Persian Medallion Rugs
- Qashqai Rugs
Below you have a brief overview of each of these types of rugs.
Illustration 1: A Massive Aubusson Hand-Made Rug. Source: Christie's Interiors Catalogue, Sale 5288, Lot 63, May 2014.Aubusson Rugs
Aubusson Carpets are fine carpets woven in France dating from the 15th to 19th centuries. Aubussons were crafted with the assistance of architects and artists of the French royal court. They were originally made in France as a pileless carpet with a floral medallion in pastel colors. Today's Aubussons are woven in India and China and have been adapted by the addition of a pile. The Aubusson area was best known as an important tapestry-weaving center until, in an attempt to meet the great demand for knotted carpets, the King's Council set up a carpet-weaving enterprise there in the early 1740s. Initially the carpets were copies of imported Turkish designs. Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour were among the first clients, placing orders through agents in Paris. Sadly, the demand for oriental rugs did not last and the artist Pierre-Jose Perrot, who had already been involved with designing Savonnerie carpets, was called upon to design carpets in the French style in 1750. Another painter, Le Lorrain, produced a radical new design, "a grande mosaic", which was a sophisticated precursor to the 19th century floral carpets. A central medallion of flowers is surrounded by dainty rosettes, flowers and garlands. Aubusson carpets were originally made as both knotted-pile carpets and later in the 18th century as flat woven slit-tapestry technique carpets produced in the same way as their tapestries. The Aubussons that are popular and readily available today are typically flat weaves. The Aubusson floral tradition was never completely abandoned, although the trend began to lean towards the neo-classical Empire style created by two architects (Percier and Fontaine) after the Proclamation of the French Empire in 1804. That gave rise to elegant Savonnerie and Aubusson carpets whose patterns are influenced by antique classical trophies or Etruscan and Roman motifs. These tend to be in a dark rich palette, sometimes in different shades of the same color, resulting in a multi-dimensional look. Nineteenth-century Aubusson tapestry-woven carpets, which were produced in great quantities, are popular today with interior decorators in Europe and North America. Trailing ribbons, bows and blowsy roses woven in soft pastel shades- of rose, dovey greys, cafe-au-lait and pale yellows conjure a very feminine look well suited for sitting rooms and bedrooms. Seventeenth and eighteenth-century Aubusson carpets in good condition are finds. As such an Aubusson in good condition garners a high price. To learn more about French rugs, please visit our "French Rugs History" section.
Bokhara is a term widely used in the West to refer to carpets and rugs made by various Turkmen tribes of Central Asia. Their history dates back centuries. The Turkomans were situated to the north of what is now called Afghanistan. During the early 1900s, the name of Bukhara, a city in Uzbekistan, was given to these rugs. In fact, few Turkmen live in or around Bukhara, which has a population made up principally of Tajiks and Uzbeks. The Turkoman were an industrious people who would barter their trade for food, clothing, etc. As a result, their weavings would invariably show up in bazaars (a type of market) in cities such as Bukhara, hence the name. The city did serve as a transit point for some Turkmen rugs on their way to the West. Today, such rugs are mainly produced in Pakistan and Iran. In Pakistan, they are mainly produced in a region around the city of Lahore. Various vegetable and other natural dyes are used to produce their rich colors. The typical pattern of a Bokhara rug is that of the octagonal elephant's foot (Bukhara) print. Bokhara's often come in a red or tan background (picture). However, today you can find them in a variety of colors from beige to a deep violet. They make for a wonderful addition to almost any space. To view more Bokhara rugs, please browse our "Bokhara Collection".
Illustration 2: A Classic Mauri Bokhara (left), an Afghan Bokhara also known as the "Elephant's Foot Turkoman Bokhara" (center), and a traditional Youmout Bokhara (right). Source: BashirPersianRugs.com, Bokhara Collection
Chobi carpets are in very high demand in the western world. They were first seen in North America in the mid 1990's. They were a response to the North American fashion taste that intended to modify the boldness of traditional Persian and oriental rugs in order to give a muted and antique look of natural wood color that was desired by the modern fashion industry and interior design community. Their beautiful colors and large geometric floral patterns made them a popular design choice. Weaving Chobi rugs started in Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly by refugees living in the Afghan and Pakistani border areas. However, more recently, India has also been producing variations of this style as well. Chobis are often distinguished by their exquisite use of 100% natural vegetable and mineral dyes. The wool traditionally used to make them are from Himalayan sheep. Fine examples of Chobis are woven with Gazni wool, which is a superb grade of wool known for the natural luster it produces as well as its durability. Today you can also find these carpets crafted with wool from New Zealand. The wool is hand-spun and they are hand crafted with great care. Chobis are the most labor-intensive of all tribal carpets due to the fact that their natural dyes are made from a combination of hand-gathered roots, fruit skins, vegetable skins, tree bark, nut shells and dried flowers. The natural dyes used produce soft luminous shades and an abrash not possible to obtain from chemical dyes. Some Chobi carpets are subject to the tea washing process due to the fact that this technique also gives them an antique appearance with a gold like patina. The majority of Chobi carpets have a light brownish color with a combination of various earth tones. Their colors range from soft muted tans and browns to rich coppers, deep maroons, and sage greens. In fact, the word Chobi with its various spelling and transliteration (choobi, choubi, chubi) is an attribution from the word "Choob" which means "wood" and "chobi" standing for "color like wood" in Farsi (spoken in Iran and Afghanistan) and Urdu (spoken in Pakistan and some part of India). Its name originates from an area settled by Turkmen tribes from Afghanistan. Nowadays, one can find different Chobi designs that are also called "Ziegler’s", "Sultanabad’s" or "Oushak’s". Although these carpets have a shorter history in the Oriental and Persian rug community then some of its more traditional counterparts, these type of carpets are in very high demand in the west due to their beautiful coloration, their outstanding quality and craftsmanship. To view more Chobi rugs, please browse our "Wool Florals Collection".
Illustration 3: A Parwan Lotus Garden (left), a Helmand Lotus (center), and a Nowshak Lotus Garden (right). Source: BashirPersianRugs.com, Wool Floral Collection.
Gabbehs carpets, sometimes spelled Gabbe, are a traditional variety of Persian carpet made by nomadic people in southern-Persia in the Iranian province of Fars. Gabbeh is pronounced as “gava in Kurdish and Luri and is also called Khersak in Bakhtiari. Gabbehs are popular among tribes of the Zagros mountains including Kurdish, Luri and Qashqai tribes. The word 'Gabbeh' comes from the Persian meaning raw, natural, uncut. This is a rough and primitive carpet. Although crude, they appeal to collectors of tribal weavings because of their simplicity and naive charm. This type of rug is usually made up of 100% pure wool and is typically dyed with vegetable dyes. The Gabbeh is usually crafted by women. This type of carpet is traditionally far thicker than other types of carpets. Some Gabbehs can reach up to 2.5 cm in thickness. The designs of contemporary Gabbehs date back to the 19th century, demonstrating the respect shown by oriental weavers for part traditions. Gabbeh motifs are usually simple and their fields commonly contain small animals and a few geometric shapes such triangles, diamonds or squares. These days weavers from Pakistan are making Persian Gabbehs. For example, they are producing natural-dyed, hand-spun Gabbeh rugs in the Balochistan area in Pakistan. The Balochistan province of Pakistan neighbors Iran and shares the Persian language/culture. To learn more about Persian rugs, please visit our: "Persian Rugs History" section.
Illustration 4: A Traditional Gabbeh Rug. Source: BashirPersianRugs.com
In origin, Kazakh is a tribal name, now a town, river and district in the extreme west of Azerbaijan, the Caucuses. Kazakhs; also known as Qazax, Kazak, Kasak or Gazakh; are noted for their coarse, long-pile carpets with shiny wool, dramatic colors and vigorous designs. Their knots are Turkish (Ghiordes knots and are generally made by weavers who were Turkic nomads, now settled, who came to the region at the time of the great westward migration of Turks in the eleventh century. These carpets were usually made by the women in the families. Kazakh carpets made at the beginning of the 20th century have colors that are synthetic and designs that are less varied and more simplified as compared to the ones made today. Carpets of this period however still offer good resistance although they are less appealing from an artistic point of view. Today there is a large production of new Kazakh carpets in Pakistan which are inspired by Caucasian designs and are made up of lively colors that are from natural vegetable dyes. These carpets are long lasting and have a short pile. Kazakh carpets blend equally well in classic environments as they do in contemporary settings. To view more Kazakh rugs, please browse our "Tribal Collection".
Illustration 5: Three different examples of traditional Kazakh Rugs. Source: BashirPersianRugs.com, Tribal Collection.
“Kilim" is a Turkish word used when referring to carpets that have been interwoven by hand using wool pile. As a result, Kilims appear less fluffy than hand-knotted carpets. Some experts claim that these types of carpets were originally made by southern Tunisians and that the craft has since spread to nomads located in Turkey, Irak, Iran, Pakistan, China, India or Morocco. Other experts believe that their birthplace is in the Near East and South-Eastern coast of Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Bessarabia). Their major factories are found to be in Anatolia, Persia and Caucasia. Historical research reveals that Kilims have traditionally occupied different functions in time. In certain cultures, they were give as a dowry gift to future brides and held the same important standing as household linen. In other contexts, they served as a bedding area for camels. Nowadays, we can find Kilims on a home’s hard wood floor or even hanging on the walls of homes as pieces of art. Kilim carpets are fragile because their structure, as their weaving techniques, is very simple: horizontal thread weaves alternatively go above and under the vertical thread chains. After every new pick, the thread weave sequence is reversed. Since the thread weave is paused at every color change, one can spot little gaps between the colors. This is a common characteristic of Kilim carpets. In contrast with the simple structure and weaving techniques, the carpet's composition is quite complex. The geometrical and floral designs are juxtaposed, overlapped, head-to-tail, in zigzags or in continuous curves such as the grapevines, leaves and styled clovers along the borders. Carnations and tulips, the preferred flowers of ottoman weavers, are alternated with diamond designs, running dogs, Aries' horns and two-headed birds which are common to all Kilims from the Near East. The most important design is by far the gol, which is a geometric drawing inscribed in a hexagon. To view more Kilim rugs, please browse our "Kilim Collection".
Illustration 6: A Semi-antique Anatolian Kelim (left), an Anatolian Kilim (center), and a Turkoman Kilim (right). Source: BashirPersianRugs.com, Tribal Collection.
Oushak’s are Turkish carpets that use a particular family of designs, called by convention after the city of Ushak, Turkey - one of the larger towns in Western Anatolia, which was a major center of rug production from the early days of the Ottoman Empire, into the early 20th century (although these patterns were woven in other regions as well). Historically Oushak’s were classified as 'Anatolian Rugs,' Anatolian literally translating to 'land of the rising sun.' Today scholars know much more about Oushak’s and are able to classify them as such. 'Anatolian' is used as a last resource when a more specific identification cannot be found; at which point 'Anatolian' refers to a carpet made in Turkey. The level of international popularity attained by Ushak carpets became such that the word "Ushak" is considered an English word of Turkic origin. The region of Ushak still remains a vibrant center of hand-made carpet weaving today. These rugs are some of the finest oriental rugs, so much so that many of the masterpieces of the 15th and 16th centuries have been attributed to Oushak. The popular star and medallion carpets originated in Ushak. Oushak rugs are known for the silky, luminous wool they work with. The dyes tend towards: cinnamons, terracotta tints, gold, blues, greens, ivory, saffron and grays. In the European markets, the earlier types of Turkish carpets, before the "star" type, are called "Lotto carpets" and "Holbein carpets". The terms make reference to their depiction in minute detail in paintings by Lorenzo Lotto and Hans Holbein the Younger, in which they are often placed in a way to brighten the background, and suggest status. These rugs were imported by Europeans, where they adorned cathedrals, churches, and the homes of the wealthy and powerful. After the 17th century, development of Oushak rug weaving is less well known. Late 17th century saw a decline in the Oriental rug market as European consumers tended to purchase rugs of European origin - primarily Aubusson, Savonnerie and Axminster. The wane in the European market meant that Oushak production declined. Those that were still made throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries were manufactured for upper-class people in the Turkish territories on Eastern Europe. Towards the end of the 19th century, when the European market began to be interested in Persian carpets once again, the Oushak population did not have enough weavers still skilled in the traditional Oushak craft. Manufactories had to turn to neighboring villages and their craftsmen who still maintained traditional techniques. Therefore, weavers came from villages outside of Oushak and employed tribal techniques. At this time, the new Oushak industry saw two major shifts in design: floral patterns in the Persian tradition were incorporated into design and room size, decorative carpets were woven as European standards demanded. The use of larger knots and an all-wool foundation became widespread. The tribal style fused with the older Oushak/Smyra designs. The merger of the two styles created a new style simply known as late 19th/early 20th century Oushak carpets. The new decorative Oushak, commercially woven, employed a soft red, as its primary color offsetting the large-scale floral motifs from the field in a bright blue. The luxurious quality of the wool aided the colors luminosity. To view more Oushak rugs, please browse our "Wool Florals Collection".
Illustration 7: A Traditional Oushak Rug. Source: BashirPersianRugs, Wool Floral collection.
The origin of Overdyed rugs stems from Istanbul, Turkey. There, rug producers wanted to salvage and make use of their old and faded rugs so they developed the innovative idea of dying old rugs. Today Overdyed rugs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The original colors of these rugs are diffused via bleaching and washing techniques, and the rug is then re-dyed in one solid color (hence the term Overdyed). The result of this process produces a rug with a visible original pattern and design but in one muted color. The design of these rugs varies depending on the style of rug used in overdyeing process. To view more Overdyed rugs, please browse our "Contemporary Collection".
Illustration 8: A Primavera Color Reform (left), a traditional gray Color Reform (center), and a traditional pink Color Reform (right). Source: BashirPersianRugs.com, Contemporary Collection.
Persian Medallion Rugs
Persian Medallion rugs are not necessarily rugs that are made in Iran although many of them come from Iran, specifically from cities such as Tabriz, Qum and Isfahan which they are named after. Persian medallion rugs also come from countries of the former Persian Empire which in modern times would be todays Afghanistan and northern parts of Pakistan and India. These rugs come in a variety of sizes and there colors can be as diverse as their sizes. Their color palettes range between 15 to 25 colors. They all possess the same characteristic of having floral motifs with a unique central medallion. To learn more about Persian Medallion rugs, please visit our "Persian Rugs History" section.
Illustration 9: A Kerman - Circa 1950 (left), a traditional Qum (center), and a Mashad - Circa 1950 (right). Source: BashirPersianRugs.com.
Qashqai (also known as Ghashghai or Qashghai) are a group of Persian nomads located in the province of Fars in southwest Iran. They are also found in great populations in the persian regions of Shiraz, Khuzestan and southern Isfahan. The Qashqai annually migrate from Persian Gulf areas to the Zagros mountains with their flocks of sheep and goats to benefit from cooler weather during the summer season. They weave very fine semi-geometric designs, often filling the field of their carpets with animals and flowers. The semi-geometric designs of their carpets are mostly hexagons or diamonds with four projecting hooks inside of a hooked diamond. The sophistication of their weavings is particularly impressive if one remembers that all their work is produced by tent dwellers living in harsh desert conditions. There are Qashqai carpets showcasing the Hebatlu design, a design name based on the weaver’s tribe name. These are carpets with a circular central medallion and smaller designs similar to the central medallion repeated on each corner of the carpets. There are also Qashqai Kilims woven by the Darashuri and Amaleh tribes. They wove the Kilims in one piece with cotton highlights. Their designs are more simplistic and the warp of their carpets finish with long braids. Qashqai carpets have a rich variety of styles produced by their tribe. These may include depictions of a whole world of animals - lions, tigers, dogs, birds - as well as thousands of flowers, and demonstrates the great skill of the weaver who would have worked entirely from memory and improvised as he wove. Another design is the 'boteh' or seed design, in colors of deep madder red, rich golden yellow and ultramarine, all colors loved by the Qashqai weavers. To learn more about Persian rugs, please visit our "Persian Rugs History" section.
Illustration 10: A Traditional Qashqai Rug. Source: BashirPersianRugs.com.
There you have it. The 10 most popular hand-made rugs in the world. As you can probably tell, they all have a unique design to them. These are some of the finest rugs that you will ever find in any store all around the world. A lot of work has gone into making each and every one of them, all the while focusing on the smallest of details to produce these beautiful rugs. You can never doubt the quality of these hand-made rugs. When you purchase a rug, you can be sure that you are purchasing something that will last you and your family for at least 100 years. We're not kidding about that one. If you want to learn more about hand-made rugs, read our area rugs overview.
Written by Samina de Sá Bashir | Bashir Persian Rugs
on November 11, 2016.