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Persian Rugs vs Oriental Rugs: Everything You Should Know

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The world of Persian rugs is SO confusing! Right? How is one to know the difference between Persian Rugs and Oriental Rugs? How to tell if it is an authentic Persian Rug?

Is a Persian Rug better than an Oriental rug?

Do you really know that it is quite a technical task to hang an oriental rug?

I am here to tell you everything that I know about Persian vs Oriental Rugs.30 Years of Hand Knotted Excellence.


For over 30 years, RugKnots has crafted, imported and delivered the very highest quality rugs from the heart of Pakistan, where skilled artisans have passed down ancient oriental rug hand knotting secrets for generations.


What are Hand Knotted Persian Rugs?

A Persian rug is a hand-knotted carpet that is produced in Iran, modern day Persia. 

 Persia is the birthplace of not only the ancient art of hand-knotted carpets but civilization as we know it!

Persian rugs are typically considered high in quality, because Iran is known for producing intricate rugs with high knot counts.

Because the rug artists in Iran are so skilled at their craft, they can create incredibly detailed rugs with impressive precision.

People have sought-after Persian rugs for centuries! These carpets are never going out of style! 

However, in the modern day, trade sanctions have been placed on the Islamic Republic of Iran by the U.S.This, unfortunately, means that dealers in the U.S. cannot legally sell products produced in Iran.

When you see a rug advertised as a "Persian rug," this means that . . .

  • That rug was brought into the U.S. illegally or;
  • The sellers are mismarking the rug to reel in a high price or–
  • The rug was brought into the U.S. before the sanctions.

The sanctions began in 1987, and although it is entirely true that there do exist antique rugs on the market that were imported to the U.S. before the sanctions. However, if the piece is new or not verified older than 1987, BEWARE!

You could become involved in something illegal you do not want to be involved in.

What is an Oriental Rug?

All Persian rugs are considered Oriental rugs, but not all  Oriental rugs are considered Persian rugs. There are other types as well which include Bokhara and Peshawar Ziegler.

An Oriental rug is a rug crafted in any of the "Oriental" countries other than Iran


  • Pakistan
  • Turkey
  • Afghanistan
  • India,
  • China,
  • Uzbekistan
  • and a few others.

Before the Persian practice spread, a rug made in Persia was often said to be superior to any other rug crafted in the Orient.However!                                                       The secret of the Persian Knot has spread throughout to rug artisans all over the world. And the key to a Persian rug lies with its knot style, not the country it was crafted in.

How is the Rug Knotted?

The Persian knot is asymmetrical and open to one side. This does not leave gaps and is less bulky than Turkish knots.

Because of this,An artisan who uses the Persian knot can create a much more intricate design with a lush pile. Along with excellent artistry, the Persian knot is one of the reasons that Persian rugs are considered to be the best in the world.

 The knot allows for extreme precision in floral patterns and multi-layered borders.

Turkish Knot (Ghiordes Knot)

The Turkish knot is symmetrical. You can identify it by two small bumps within one knot on the back of the rug.

 Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and northern Iran are known for this type of knot.Of course, any knot can be used anywhere in the world.

So THIS IS WHERE it can get confusing . . .

What do you call a rug, hand-knotted in Pakistan, using a Persian knot?

Rug industry experts consider this carpet an Oriental rug because of its production outside of Iran. The rug can be of the same quality, crafted with the same techniques and material, but because a manufacturer in Pakistan crafted it, it's considered an Oriental rug, not a Persian.  –It cannot bear the "Persian" name. The Construction of the Persian Rug if the piece is Persian knotted you should buy it, right!                           

The only way that the piece can be Persian knotted is if it is hand-knotted. Hand-knotting refers to the technique used by rug-weaving artisans, where they hand-tie each individual knot to create a carpet.

If the piece is not hand-knotted, you have a fake Persian rug on your hands.

How do you know if your piece is hand-knotted?

Ideally, the dealer you buy from is open about the construction process. If the fabrication process isn't listed, however, here is a quick guide:

Hand-Knotted Persian Rugs Quick Guide:

  1. The bottom of the rug is an exact mirror image of the top pile
  2. The bottom is soft and the same material as the top pile
  3. You can visibly count the knots per square inch


 The fringe is a part of the construction: it is not sewn or glued on Hand-Tufted Rugs:

  1. Fringe is glued or sewn on.
  2. There is a canvas or piece of cotton on the bottom of the rug.

 Synthetically Produced Rugs:

  1. A hard plastic backing
  2. Sewn or glued on fringe

What’s important to understand is that terms like handmade,and-loomed and hand-tufted do not mean the same thing as hand-knotted.

"Hand-tufted" refers to a rug-making method that is a hybrid of machine creation and hand-knotting.

When a rug is hand-tufted, the fabricator uses a handheld machine that punches the design into a canvas backing.The term "handcrafted" can refer to a person hand-loading yarn into an automated loom, which poorly mimics human hands.

How Was it Actually Constructed?

The is the most important detail to pay attention to when purchasing a rug is its method of fabrication. Dealers often apply the "Persian rug design/style" term to any rug bearing traditional design.

But A true Persian rug is one that is made in Persia and is hand-knotted.

What material is the piece made out of?

Wool and/or silk are the only materials a real Persian rug will ever be made out of.Wool is sheared from sheep yearly. 

Some artisans craft Persian rugs from natural silk, which has been harvested from silk caterpillars.                        

Some use bamboo silk which is an alternative method that produces nearly the same result.We firmly recommend using natural bamboo rather than natural silk. Natural silk is NOT cruelty-free! Around 2,500 silk caterpillars must die in the process of retrieving 1 pound of silk.

There are other ugly synthetic materials on the market. A true Persian rug will never be made of polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, viscose, jute or any other material.

What about an Oriental rug? What Materials are they Made from?

Once again,The only significant difference between a Persian rug and an Oriental rug is the location in which the rug was constructed.

The materials that Oriental rugs are made from is also significant. A real Oriental rug will only be made out of wool and/or silk, and it will also only be hand-knotted.

Don't Forget about Knot-Count!

No matter where the rug is made, knot-count is the biggest determinant of value.In all the craziness that ensues with buyers concerning questions whether a carpet is a Persian or Oriental rug, too often consumers ignore one of the most important quality factors.

The knot-count!

A good rule of thumb:The higher the knot-count, the higher the value, and the higher the price.

Why You May Not Want to Buy a Persian Rug

You wanna' know what's funny? Now that I've talked on and on about Persian rugs, I'm going to tell you that in many cases you're not going to want to buy one!

Except in the case of overdyed and patchwork rugs, we don't sell traditional Persian rugs. We sell hand-knotted Oriental rugs, hand-woven in Pakistan. And we sell these predominantly because we believe that in many cases the quality of a Pakistan-produced Oriental rug can be as good or superior to a Persian rug.                                                                                                                                         At Rugknots we use Persian knots and imported New Zealand wool, but our carpets are crafted in Pakistan.So why would I talk on-and-on about how great Persian rugs are, and then try to convince you to not buy one?Because RugKnots' Pakistan produced Oriental carpets feature the same knots, the same techniques, and the same materials that Persian rugs have.But our products come at a much better price tag!

The Cost of Persian Rugs vs. Oriental Rugs

We do not up-charge for the word Persian,And we are a factory direct supplier. We do not have to to pay a middleman so you don't pay a middleman!

Don't believe me?Check out the difference for yourself . . . 

 This 1st dibs Persian rug is $40,000

 This Rug Knots Oriental Rug is $4,000

The two pieces are made of the same material, use the same techniques, are the same size, and even have a similar design, yet the because the 1st dibs piece is Persian, it reels in a price of almost 10x's that of the RugKnots Oriental rug.

In Summary–Oriental Rugs Often Offer a Better Value Than Persian Rugs

Yes, Persian rugs have a deep rooted history, but unless you have deeply rooted pockets, an Oriental rug is the way to go!

An Oriental hand-knotted rug using a Persian knot is of the same general quality as authentic Persian rugs.

But decide for yourself . . . Check out our many Oriental rug collections to see the premium quality carpets available. I challenge you not to be wowed by the selection of patterns and colors you'll see that we can offer!

If you need a rug in a particular color, size, or shape, learn about our custom rugs. We can create any rug that you want and do it in less time than any other designer may quote you!

Try us!

I dare you.

1 comment

  • Why do they not use green in their rugs?

    Millie McGillivray on

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