How Oriental area rugs are named comes from different sources. It should be noted that there is no value provided by the name itself. Nor does a name denote that it is a better quality of rug than another type. While there are many types of modern and ancient Oriental rugs that make the right purchase, understanding what the names mean will help you make the best-informed decision.
How Oriental Rugs are Named
The following is a quick synopsis of how a rug is named. There are many common factors involved in the naming of rugs which include the following;
- Name of the country or region where it was woven
- Name of the community where it was woven and/or sold
- Name of the community where the weavers came from
- Name of the tribal group the weavers are a part of
The origin or the people to which the rug belongs plays the most important roles in how the rug itself was named.
Country, Area, or Region of Origin
This is arguably the most common way that Oriental rugs are named. Where they were created speaks not only to those who made it, but often the materials that were used in making the rugs. It also should be noted that the country of origin may not be the country in which the materials were gathered. It is true that for ancient Oriental rugs, they were made using the materials at hand. But today that is no longer necessarily true.
So, a Persian rug was either weaved in Iran or Pakistan from materials that came from Iran or Pakistan or possibly from somewhere else. If you come across a rug that is Indo Persian, then that means the rug was woven in India, but the design was from Persia. If you see a rug that has two or more countries listed, then you should ask the dealer about which country the design originated and where it was woven for clarification.
Sometimes a rug is named after where it was sold. This may mean that the information about the rug is misleading since being created in one place where it sells should not carry any weight. After all, a Persian rug that is sold in Alabama does not make it an Alabama rug. Still, if the place where it was sold is a famous area for selling rugs, then that name might stick compared to where it was created.
Weaver or Workshop
Another way that rugs are named is from the person who did the weaving or the workshop where it was created. Quite often, the workshops are named after the Master Weaver, although this may not mean that the Master Weaver was directly involved in the creation process. For example, if you see the name Haji Jalili followed by a city or community, such as Tabriz, then you know the rug was created by Haji Jalili who did the work in Tabriz, a city located in the northwest section of Iran.
Quite often, rugs are named for the weaver who created a unique or distinctive style, even if the name itself does not mean that the weaver did the actual work. For example, William Morris Crafts & Arts means that the rug was done in the style of famed leader of the Arts and Crafts movement William Morris. But since he passed away nearly a century ago, the rug itself if it was new did not have his direct involvement.
Keep in mind that the names provided to Oriental area rugs are consistent over the centuries. This means that whether you are viewing new or antique Oriental rugs, the names still carry the same meaning.
This type of name, which is based on the most prominent design on the rug, is not as common as you might think. Generally speaking, naming a rug after a design means that the rug may come from several different countries, but they all boast the same prominent feature such as an eagle, tree, or some other common design.
It usually means that the design has taken a life of its own outside the community, country, or region of its origin. A design so powerful and resonating that no matter where it was created, it will be named after the design featured on the rug.
This is similar to country or community of origin but may reflect a combination of different styles. For example, a Gabbeh rug comes from the southern region of Iran but may have been woven in several different villages. Rugs that have regional names may have been created in different places inside that region of the world. It may be more common than you might think as a rug started in one village may move to different villages where unique designs and touches can be added. This does not subtract from the value of the rug, but instead demonstrates its history and origins that may have been centuries in the making.
This is relatively rare, but some rugs are named after painters that may have included it in their art. So, for example the 15th century Flemish painter Hans Memling often included rugs in his art. So, you may find that rugs of similar design are called a Memling Gul. When named after a famous painter, it usually means that it is provided a name that has meaning or resonance outside its country or community of origin.
This is the same type of logic when an object or item is named after something famous it appeared in, rather than the actual origin or weaver that created it.
Of course, you’ll need to be aware of dealers that might name a rug after the location where they believed it was made. You can tell if there is a discrepancy, such as an “Antique Qum Rug”. An antique rug is over a century old, but the city of Qum didn’t start producing rugs until considerably later.
Understanding how Oriental area rugs are named will help you determine their value when making a purchase. Whether you intend to purchase a new or antique Oriental rugs, becoming familiar with the names and origins will play an important role in buying the ones that are best suited to your needs.