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Traditional Oriental Rugs: Bokhara Rugs vs Kurdish Rugs

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Are you in love with traditional Oriental rugs? If so, you are in good company. Classic Oriental rugs have been gracing the floors of majestic palaces and temples for thousands of years.

Through several centuries, the glorious colors and intricate designs have never diminished. If anything, the rugs' traditional look has become even more popular.

When it comes to making a traditional choice, how can one differentiate between a traditional Persian Bokhara Oriental rug and a Turkish or Kurdish Oriental rug? When it comes to wool Oriental rugs, their similarities and differences are as unique as each rug type.

Bokhara Rugs

Traditional Bokhara rug

With perfected beauty and adored for their supreme softness, traditional Bokhara rugs are the most traditional and classic of all Persian rugs. Bokhara rug motifs date back hundreds of years and represent a rich history and tradition from where they originated.

Bokhara rugs are hand knotted and intertwined from strands of 100% natural wool from the region they hail from. Bokhara rugs are tied using Persian asymmetric knots.

Traditional Bokhara rug in living room

When it comes to quality, Bokhara rugs are superior in many ways. The main reason people choose to purchase a traditional Bokhara Persian rug is primarily their traditional red rug color and also for their high knot count which adds to their overall value.

Since a true Bokhara rug is soft, elegant and durable, it easily transforms an ordinary room into a stylish and sophisticated room. Bokhara Oriental rugs are always knotted from 100% natural wool fibers.

Kurdish Rugs

Antique Persian rug
Source: Sara Nmpr

Traditional or classic Kurdish rugs are hand knotted by weavers that originate from the eastern edge of Turkey in the Kurdistan region, including the Eastern part of Turkey near the Tauros Mountains of Northern Iraq. Kurdish weavers come from different clans and Kurdish motifs reflect their area’s heritage.

Older Kurdish rugs will often feature Kurdish medallion patterns and allover floral or geometric designs referred to by collectors as “Jaff.” Modern Kurdish rugs have a very traditional look and contain symbols that represent the weaver’s wishes or hopes for their future. Their patterns are more tribal in nature, and instead of a traditional classic red rug, modern Kurdish rugs feature many more colors.

Kurdish rug in kitchen
Source: BEFoundCollective

To tell if a rug is Kurdish or Persian, turn the rug over. Most hand knotted rugs contain a label telling you where the rug originates from on their backside. We wrote another blog that distinguishes 7 signs where you can determine if your oriental rug is fake, if you're having trouble determining rug authenticity.

However, if the rug you examine is missing a label, a Kurdish rug can be distinguished by the type of knot that it has been created from. Kurdish rugs feature a symmetric (Turkish) knot and not an asymmetric knot like a Bokhara Oriental rug (we go over the differences between knots of different rug types here). In some cases, like the rug in the photo above, camel hair is used instead of wool to create a classic Kurdish rug design.

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Bokhara rugs and Kurdish rugs can look very similar to one another. However, when you look closely, each type of rug has a very specific design and composure of wool. The differences between a Bokhara Oriental rug and Kurdish Oriental rug include the type of knot they are created with, the materials they are created from, and the colors they portray. What they have in common is a classic look and a long traditional history of the countries they originate from.

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