There are many people out there who believe that Persian rugs and Oriental rugs are similar, like peas in a pod. But there are just as many discerning designers and consumers who value the distinctions between the two. Either way, knowing the variations between Persian and Oriental rugs is good research to help make the most of your rug shopping experience.
The actual phrase “Oriental rug” is an out-dated (but still often used) term that refers to a wide range of rug types and rug makers based in Asia, Eurasia and parts of the Middle East. “Oriental rug” is a somewhat generic term for the rugs produced by artisans in these locations – and it is often further broken down into specific sub groups to define specific areas.
Persian rugs are one of the sub groups of Oriental rugs. Authentic Persian rugs are made only in Iran (formerly known as Persia) and are hand knotted. The broader classification of Oriental rugs, on the other hand, may utilize a range of construction methods including hand-loomed, hand-knotted, hand-woven and even machine-loomed. Other characteristics of a Persian rug include an unusually thick pile (up to 160 knots per square inch), extremely rich color combinations and unique designs.
Remember that old quadrilateral rule from geometry class: all squares are quadrilaterals but not all quadrilaterals are squares? It’s just like that with these lovely rugs: All Persian rugs are Oriental rugs. But not all Oriental rugs are Persian rugs!