The Meaning of Color in Persian and Oriental Rugs

Oriental rugs have always been famous for their of color.  Color plays an important role in our lives, from the food we eat to how we pick furniture, color is a big deal.  It can create a big “Wow” factor in a room or it can be something toned down and soft.  How you choose your Persian or Oriental rugs is of course entirely up to you.

When we choose color for a room, it is not always about style, but how we “feel”.  Thus choosing a color of area rug that is in alignment with who you are or where you want to be is a good choice.

Rug design, knot count and weaving techniques can amplify colors.  If there are more knots per square inch, the color will look even richer, especially if it is a silk rug.  The rug makers of old knew a lot about color, as all dyes were created from natural sources.

As we have used both the word Persian and Oriental in the title of this blog, we feel it is important to clarify their meanings as well.

What is the difference between an Oriental rug and a Persian rug?

First let us begin with the fact that not all rugs are the same. An oriental rug can pertain to all area rugs produced in Asia and beyond. Truly, any rug that has a traditional pattern on it can be called an oriental rug. Whereas a Persian rug is actually from the land of Persia, otherwise known as Iran. Historically speaking, on the Persian New Year (Nowruz) of 1935, the Shah of Persia, known as Reza Sha Phlavi, asked delegates to use the word “Iran”, the endonym of the country, in all correspondence.

Today, people use the word “Persian” or “Iranian” interchangeably. However, when it comes to rugs, the mother of all rugs is considered to be Persian, as many patterns that exist today on rugs made in India and Pakistan are borrowed from original Persian designs.  True and authentic Oriental and/or Persian rugs are hand knotted – not tufted, nor machine made.

The colors in oriental rugs represent a big role in symbolism and storytelling.

Symbols in rugs are important, in this blog post we want to share the meanings and symbolism of colors.  How we choose colors in Persian and Oriental rugs has a lot to do with how we feel about them in our living environment.  Thus choosing rug colors that are harmonious with how we feel is important in the overall design of the Oriental rug.

Red is considered to bring wealthluckbeautyjoy and courage.  See the beauty of red in all natural dyes in this beautiful tree of life 8’10” x 11’8″ Tree of Life rug, made in Pakistan.

Orange is known for humilitydevotion and piety.  This Ruby Rugs original ARYANA GANDHARA oriental rug is beautiful with its orange base color!

Yellow or Gold represents the sunhappinessopulencepower and wealth. Yellow was often reserved for royalty, and was assumed that the dye was harder to make in the early days of rug making.  This beautiful tribal KURDISH RAHRAH is a great example of the use of gold in a rug.

Green – represents hopeparadiserenewal and spring.  It was used sparingly in rugs as it represented the Prophet Mohammed (and thus shouldn’t be walked on or put in high traffic areas).  The HAJI JALILI rug below has 3 prominent colors: green, orange and beige.

Purple – Although used less often in older rugs, represents wisdompeaceintrospectionspirituality and associated with royalty.

Brown – represents Mother Earth and fertility.  This is perhaps one of the most important colors to consider in our lives today.  Brown is earthy and a great color of choice to feel grounded in life. It gives us the sense of the earth below our feet.  This beautiful PERSIAN GABBEH area rug below is a great choice for a modern space.

Black – represents death and destruction in Persian rugsFor this reason, black is not common in traditional Persian rugs. Today, black is woven into modern rugs with a positive meaning, such as “emptiness” or “mystery“.  The area rug below is a great example of how black is used in a very beautiful and modern way called the ROMANO SILK MODERN.

White – represents innocencepurity and cleanliness.  White is the most prominent color in traditional Persian Nain rugs.  We have a very nice selection of Persian Nains at Ruby Rugs.

At Ruby Rugs, we like to make it easy for you to find the right color rug for your room(s).  You can navigate our online gallery by using the color palette on the left.  We aim to create beautiful photos of our rugs for the website.  However, the best way to get an accurate idea of color is to visit us in our showroom.

Whether you are seeking antique rugs or modern area rugs, we have a lot of color in our oriental rug showroom.

If you’re not sure what colors or sizes or right for you, then contact us in Berkeley for a free in-home consultation. There is no cost or obligation for us to bring rugs to your home.  This is the best way to see the colors in their true form in your own spaces.  With nothing to lose, this is the best option when shopping for rugs.


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