Antique Rug Symbols: Coat of Arms
A Coat of Arms is a symbolic design that identifies a person, lineage, family, political or commercial entity. As Oriental carpets gained popularity in the West, weavings were commissioned by European nobility and royalty. The heraldic design of a family or dynasty was often incorporated into the carpet pattern.
Polonaise carpets are so named because they contain the coat of arms of Poland and were for a time believed to have been made in Poland instead of Persia. In fact, these carpets were woven in Persia during the Safavid era, presented by Persian rulers to European royalty and dignitaries. Production of this type began under the rule of Shah Abbas and continued into the 1600s.
Flemish tapestry weaving in the 1600s often featured coats of arms as major design elements. This stylistic element was used in French Savonnerie and Aubusson weavings, in part because artisans who fled the Netherlands became established as weavers in their new countries and incorporated the motif into a new medium.