Antique Rug Motifs: Animal Pelt
Meanings of Animal Pelt Motifs in Antique Rugs and Carpets
The animal pelt motifs and symbols can be found in antique rugs from many different cultures. Animal pelt motifs are traditionally a symbol of power, courage, strength, and hunting prowess.
Tigers are a particularly common animal pelt motif seen in antique rugs and carpets. Representations of tiger pelts were portrayed on Tibetan rugs to symbolize wisdom. A double-headed tiger skin motif represents both the male and female aspect.
Hindu and Buddhist spiritual teachers used these carpets to receive devotees and for meditation. Animal pelt motifs used by Tantric Buddhists include representations of flayed elephants, tigers and humans. These carpets were used in rituals and symbolize detachment from the body.
In many vintage and newer rug designs, animal pelt motifs are more decorative and tongue-in-cheek than culturally symbolic. For example, in this vintage Scandinavian Rya rug, a deconstructed tiger pelt is featured as a reference to animal skin rugs. Instead of actually being made from fur, this “tiger skin rug” is woven from wool.
Think of it as a more eco-friendly way to indulge in your safari-hunt fantasies!