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Herati, Mahi and Fish Rug Designs

About Herati Design Rugs and Mahi or Fish Design Carpets

Meanings of Herati, Mahi and Fish Designs in Antique Rugs

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Antique Rug Design: Herati/Mahi Motif

If you were to picture a Middle Eastern marketplace or bazaar from hundreds of years ago, chances are one aspect of what you would most likely envision involves many fine fabrics being haggled over while many wonderful scents of incense and the like waft through the noise-filled air. Many of these fabrics and materials would, once the din of commercial transactions was complete, end up in the hands of exceptionally skilled artisans who would then quietly create rugs and carpets of stunning opulence and beauty. These masterpieces would in turn adorn the most affluent and esteemed private residences.

One of the more common design motifs used in these elegant ancient rugs is the “Herati” or “Mahi” pattern. While a few specifics may differ based on the country or region where these rugs are produced, what is generally true is that the pattern consists of an elaborately rendered diamond with a rosette inside. (The former often encapsulates decorative floral elements which resemble fish, hence the use of the Farsi term of “mahi”, which translates to “fish”.)

Herati Motif Medallion Nazmiyal

A herati motif medallion on a Senneh rug.

As opposed to being used exclusively as a centrally placed element/default focal point, the Mahi motif is often traditionally utilized in a number of different ways: it can appear as a repetitive feature which fills in the expanse around the center of the rug, or as a border-specific motif. The attractiveness of the design was evidently not lost on the craftsmen of long ago, and so they duly made every effort to emphasize the Mahi pattern as much as possible, an approach the artisans of today have also dutifully adhered to with great effect. Above and beyond the obvious aesthetic appeal of the design, symbolism is also very much in play as the motif is thought to bring good luck to those who possess it.

Some of the materials which are traditionally used in the creation of the immensely popular Mahi rug include wool, silk, and cotton, while some of the most impressive examples incorporate threads of gold. Predictably, the higher the silk and metallic content, the higher the quality and cost. (A high knot count is also indicative of exceptional quality and durability, and therefore, understandably so, a higher price as well.)

Herati Motif Allover Pattern Nazmiyal

An allover pattern of herati motifs on a Persian rug.

While the exact origins of the Herati/Mahi design may be somewhat unsettled, what is fairly widely accepted is that the Farsi-speaking region of Western Iran and the country of Turkey represent the locations where this particular style of rug-making does in fact have its most definitive roots. Perhaps a bit of a slightly stronger case can be made for Iran given that the city of Herat (which was initially located in Persia but now resides within Afghanistan’s borders) provided obvious eponymous inspiration for the naming of the very design itself. Regardless of any quibbles concerning direct national or cultural lineage, this general area’s role in and contribution to the development and popularization of the Mahi pattern is laudable and, again, undisputed.

Mahi rugs and carpets are famed for not only their aesthetic appeal but their durability (and attendant functionality) as well. In fact, the beauty of these pieces truly belies their practicality; they do not need to be seen or treated as mere show-pieces, but can actually be put to use in the home as desired. This durability and practicality, coupled with our ability to produce bespoke versions which more accurately reflect your personal style and taste, makes for a truly great investment. Our properly sourced and high-quality Herati examples will not only provide a distinct and enviable flair to your home, but also a traditional dose of good luck. Needless to say, they also make for great gifts for those who appreciate items that exhibit not only fine craftsmanship, but are also evocative of a magical past, one replete with the soothing smell of incense and noisy bustling Persian markets.

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