Rug Designs and Carpet Patterns

Learning About The Magnificent Carpet Patterns and Rug Designs

Rug Designs and Patterns – In many ways design is the ultimate quality in which the appeal of a rug may reside. In interesting or unusual design, one that makes effective use of line and color, or perhaps one that that is unusually detailed and intricate may have the appeal that attracts the interest and passion of the viewer.

But these are all subjective qualities that will appeal to some viewers and not to others. Fortunately, over the large gulf of time during which they have been made, rugs have been produced in every type of design imaginable.

It really is not a stretch to say that the right rug for everyone is just waiting to be found — if one is willing to look for it. But it may be of interest to see the ways in which rug designs have been developed and passed on.

Some cultures across the globe have been manufacturing fine carpets for centuries, and, as such, area rugs are of the paramount importance to such groups of people. When one considers the astonishing and rich history of Oriental rugs, for example, one cannot help but marvel at the impressive range of rug designs that have emerged from that region over the centuries.

This impressive range in the designs of rugs can largely be attributed to the deeply ingrained nature of the art of rug making to the Persian people — all across that complex, myriad land, people took to making carpets just as their parents had before them, incorporating their preferred elements of design into carpets of their own.

As a result, a great many different designs and styles emerged — all the better for today’s ken homeowners who might be seeking out the perfect rug for their home!

View our collection sorted by their rug patterns and carpet designs:


Abstract Rugs


Allover Rugs


Animal Pelt Symbols at Nazmiyal


Animal Rugs


Berber Tattoo Symbols at Nazmiyal


Biblical & Religious Rugs by Nazmiyal


Boteh Plant Symbols at Nazmiyal


Camel Symbols at Nazmiyal


Chinese Dragons Symbols at Nazmiyal


Chintamani Symbols at Nazmiyal


Cloud Band Rugs and Design History by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC


Coats of Arms Symbols at Nazmiyal


Image of the Crab Design Symbol by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs


Cupid Symbols at Nazmiyal


Cypress Tree Symbols at Nazmiyal


Eight Pointed Stars Symbols at Nazmiyal


Evil Eye Symbols at Nazmiyal


Floral Rugs


Chinese Foo Dig Design Nazmiyal Antique Rugs


Garden Design Symbols at Nazmiyal


Geometric People Symbols at Nazmiyal


Geometric Rugs


Golfarang Symbols at Nazmiyal


Gol Symbols at Nazmiyal


Persian Gonbad Rugs


Greek Key / Running Dog Design In Rugs


Herati/Mahi Symbols at Nazmiyal


Hunting Scene Symbols at Nazmiyal


Islimi Symbols at Nazmiyal


Judaic Motif Symbols at Nazmiyal


Kufic Symbols at Nazmiyal


Iranian Lion With Sword Symbol by Nazmiyal


Antique Lotto Design Carpets


Master Weavers


Cental Medallion Design Rugs


Pictorial Rugs


Pomegranate Design Pattern by Nazmiyal Rugs


Prayer Rugs


Investment Rugs


Masterpieces Rugs


Wagireh / Sampler


Shabby Chic Rugs


Sun Symbol by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs


Picture for the Swastika Design Symbol by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC


Tiger Symbol In Rugs by Nazmiyal


Tree Of Life Design Rugs


Tribal Rugs


Antique Persian Vase Design Rugs

View our carpets by their patterns and rug designs:

Click Here to Go Back to List of Rug Symbols

Antique Rug Patterns and Rug Designs – Antique rug patterns and for that matter, Antique rugs in general, (just like people) come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. Beautiful rugs are woven all over the world, and have been hand-made by artisans for centuries.

Because of this practical geographic universality and this tremendous breadth of time, there are practically countless different styles, designs, and rug patterns that may be found in fine carpets. Rugs may range in size from scatter-size to palace size; they may range in decoration from elaborate fields of stylized flowers to monochromatic fields surrounded by subtly contrasting borders; they may range in origin from American to Turkish to Tibetan.

Because of this enormous variegation, finding the fine antique rug or carpet that is right for you may seem overwhelming. That is where we come in. In the hopes of making things easy for our clients, we have organized our inventory based on specific looks, rug patterns and carpet styles. This way, if you have a broad idea of what it is that you would like your new carpet to look like, it should be easy for you to sort through the patterns below and identify that which is best suited to your tastes.

While some of us might have our hearts set on a rug with animals, others might be more inclined toward a geometric rug design, while others still might be drawn to floral motifs. Whatever your taste might be, we have engineered out site to be as user-friendly as possible for our customers. Simply click on the images below to see our selection of antique rugs by their patterns.

On the Hunt for Beautiful Antique Rug Patterns

There are rugs, and then there are beautiful rugs that go beyond the artistic norm. These outstanding carpets are featured in museums, private collections and world-class estates. Only one vendor specializes in procuring the most beautiful rugs from all over the world, and that company is Nazmiyal Collection. The extreme quality of the fiber and dyes, stylistic finesse and superlative construction set these beautiful rugs apart from the rest and make them true masterpieces.

Many beautiful antique rugs feature regal hunting scenes, iconic religious stories and elaborate narratives based on classical works of Persian literature. Then, there are the superfluous arabesques, splendid medallions and outstanding rugs produced by master craftspeople in Persia’s most prestigious weaving cities. In the 20th century, many beautiful rugs were produced in Europe as well. These stunning art carpets feature the designs of Picasso, Miro, Dali, Kandinsky, Agam, Warhol and the world’s most beloved modern designers and artists. There are also rustic kilims and quaint village rugs that are extremely beautiful, but beauty ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder.

Guide to Antique Rug Designs

What Do Collectors Usually Look for in Antique Rug Designs?

Antique Rug Designs – When it comes to artisanal rugs and carpets, there are few things more important than the rug design. After all, the design of a rug or a carpet is what makes it distinct, what makes it unique.

Just as individual taste varies incredibly from person to person, so to does the design of a carpet cary from piece to piece. Because rug weaving is an ancient craft that has been practiced all over the world, the variety of rug designs is as vast as you can imagine.

Rug Designs by Nazmiyal

What Do Collectors Look for in a Rug Designs?

Design is a central issue – if not the central issue – in rug collecting. It is a key factor in recognizing the type of a rug and placing it within a a historical sequence or development. Rating design quality in critical terms is also considered the mark of a real collector, one who has acquired an “eye.”

An understanding of design is important in assessing if a rug is rare or important, or more culturally authentic. It is also critical in determining if a rug is late, simplified, confused, or degenerate, all things that collectors seek to avoid.

Learning About Antique Rug Patterns and Designs

What Antique Rug Designs or Pattern are Right for the Room?

Antique Rug Designs – Determining the style or design for an antique rug or vintage carpet depends on various factors, but knowing the space and applying your own personal preferences will help you determine a suitable rug for your home. Here are some major factors to consider when making your decision:

Traditional Rugs vs. Modern Designs – More traditional designs incorporate well into older homes with more intricate décor while modern design rugs lend themselves to contemporary spaces with simple geometry and an open aesthetic.

Geometric Style Rugs vs. Curve-linear Patterns – Geometric rugs with bold patterns and strong contrasts have a masculine appeal while floral designs with softer color schemes and less contrast emanate a feminine charm.

Allover Design Rugs vs. Medallion Carpets – People often tend towards symmetry in a room (though certainly that is only a preference). Allover designs make furniture arrangement easy for spaces such as living rooms and libraries. Certain rooms, such as dining rooms, provide the perfect setting for a medallion rug.

Colorful Rugs – Colorful rugs will make a strong statement in a room, while a more neutral or monochromatic rug will subtly compliment the other colors in the room and integrate easily into existing decor.

It is necessary to remember that these are just guidelines, but personal preference is the single most important factor when choosing a rug for your space.

Main Designs and Pattern Principles of Oriental Persian Rugs

Persian rug designs include a remarkably varied range of patterns and taste depending on the nature and locale of production. These tend to fall into two main categories – urban or city rugs whose designs are rooted in the classical traditions of the Safavid period, and village or tribal, nomadic rugs characterized by a more abstract, geometric sensibility.

This division is not, however, absolute since village or tribal designs often turn out to be highly transformed adaptations of classical models. But for the most part, city rugs display a more sophisticated design repertory characterized by recognizable floral rug forms articulated with elegant undulating curves or rhythms, while village and tribal rugs tend to rely on more abstract forms using bold, more rectilinear graphic effects and repetitions.

Geometric Tribal Village Rug Vs Floral City Made Persian Rug by Nazmiyal

Geometric Tribal Pattern Village Rug and a Refined Floral Design City Made Persian Rug

Whether urban or village productions, Persian rugs and carpets tend to use two main design principles – centralized or medallion compositions and allover rug repeat patterns. Centralized designs are organized around a central medallion of variable form, often elaborated as a series of medallions within medallions, framed by four quarter medallions or ‘corner-pieces.’ The intervening area or field is usually filled with separate floral or geometric rug design motifs or ‘space-fillers.’

Tribal Geometric Human Figure Patterns vs Refined Human Figure Design by Nazmiyal

Tribal Geometric Human Figure Patterns vs Refined Human Figure Design

In contrast, allover repeat designs consist of smaller medallions or other motifs repeated across the entire field vertically and horizontally in rows, either as a grid or staggered. The design may be made more complex through the addition of additional smaller motifs between the larger repeating ones. Both the medallion and allover formats may also be articulated as compartment patterns derived from classical Islamic geometric rug ornament.

All Over Design Rug Vs Central Medallion Pattern Rug by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

All Over Design Rug Vs Central Medallion Pattern Rug

Urban or city rugs with floral, curve-linear designs of arabesque or vine-scroll type may be designed either in a centralized medallion format or as a more integrated allover repeat pattern. Additionally, they may use a compartment structure filled with floral detail. In the same way village or tribal rugs may also utilize either format, although village production often favors allover designs. And when using the medallion format village rugs tend to use two or three superimposed central medallions, and they may eliminate the corner-pieces.

Apart from gabbehs and kilims, all Persian rugs, whatever their design, tend to enclose the field pattern with one or more framing borders. The border system may have one ‘main’ border with smaller ‘minor’ borders and/or ‘guard stripes’ to either side, or it may have a more complex arrangement of multiple concentric borders. The motifs within the borders may be separate elements arranged in serial repetition, or they may be connected as a larger, continuous pattern like a vine-scroll. And as in the field the main design elements may be surrounded by additional space-fillers to complicate the Persian rug design pattern.

Tribal Design Antique Persian Kilim Rug Nazmiyal

Tribal Design Antique Persian Kilim Rug (sold)

There are of course exceptions to these general design categories. The most significant of these is the so-called prayer format. It is distinguished by an arch-like opening or ‘mihrab.’ This is often interpreted as a door or window looking onto paradise, but most immediately it is modeled on the mihrab or ‘qibla’ niche used in mosques to indicate the direction of Mecca for prayer.

Mihrab Design Islamic Antique Muslim Prayer Rugs Nazmiyal

Mihrab Design In Islamic Muslim Antique Prayer Rugs

On city rugs, the mihrab Persian rug design is a fairly pictorial depiction of a niche framed by recognizable columns supporting an arch, often with a hanging lamp suspended from the apex, although the areas within and outside the arch may be patterned with various filler motifs. Village prayer rugs usually render the architecture more abstractly, so that at times little more than the outline of the arch or doorway remains amidst the patterning.

Antique Persian Prayer Rug Design Nazmiyal

Antique Persian Prayer Rug Design

The prayer Persian rug designs of the field is usually enclosed by a framing border system of some kind. Another significant exception is the so-called tree of life design, again possibly an imagery of eternal peace in paradise. Here in place of a medallion or allover pattern, the field is organized around a tree rendered either in a relatively life-like pictorial fashion, or in variable degrees of abstraction. When more realistically rendered, the tree usually supports birds or other feeding animals emphasizing its life-giving power.

Like the prayer niche format, the tree of life rug design is usually enclosed by one or more borders. At times, prayer design rugs may depict the tree of life within the mihrab to suggest the heavenly domain.

Persian Tree Of Life Design Rug Nazmiyal

Floral Pattern Antique Persian Tree Of Life Design Rug (sold)

Already by the Safavid period, pictorial rug elements of human figures, animals, and floral or vegetative form had also become a significant though subordinate element within Persian rug designs or carpet patterns. But during the Qajar period or 19th century, Persian art became increasingly open to a more western, less traditionally Islamic traditions of pictorial art. In place of earlier Persian miniature and wall painting, Qajar art now encouraged the production of framed easel paintings of European type.

Persian Design Pattern Of A Refined Human Figure by Nazmiyal

A Persian Design Pattern Of A Refined Human Figure

This new taste inevitably began to affect rug production as well, which literally copied Qajar paintings or at times the pictorial reliefs found on ancient Persian ruins like those at Persepolis. As such, antique rugs of this kind stand apart from the main tradition of Persian rug weaving, although they often achieve a distinctive and still thoroughly Persian rug designs, styles and effects.

Tribal Village Persian Gabbeh rug with Geometric People and Animal Design Pattern by Nazmiyal

Tribal Village Persian Gabbeh rug with Geometric People and Animal Design Patterns

One last exception to the Persian rug designs is the so-called Persian Gabbeh rug. These are quintessentially village or tribal rugs whose design consists of small-scale human and animal design forms, and at times tents or buildings, all distributed across a relatively open field or ‘landscape,’ generally with no border of any kind.

Persian Tribal Small Scale Human Figures and Animal Design Patterns by Nazmiyal

Persian Tribal Rug with Small Scale Human Figures and Animal Design Patterns (sold)

They represent an almost self-consciously primitive sensibility relying on effects of color and wool quality that appeals especially to modern western taste, like the purely abstract Persian kilims of Mazandaran.

History of the Famed Palmette Rug Motif

The palmette motif, or arabesque flower, is one of the most common and beautiful motifs that you can find in Persian rugs. It is a highly stylized design and does not resemble any known flower species, for the most part. It has a colorful history, and it is one of the most common symbols in Persian rugs and many other forms of artwork. Let’s explore the history and development of this familiar design.

Early Forms of the Palmette Motif

The palmette is associated with Persian rug design. It is found most frequently in Persian art of the 15th and 16th centuries, but early versions of it can be found in Egyptian art and Assyrian art. In earlier forms, the petals and center of the flower are flanked by arabesque designs. The meaning of this symbol is “sacred tree.” Throughout the ages, this basic shape remained, but it took on many different stylized forms.

Many scholars agree that the palmette first began to appear in ancient Egypt. It is found on the walls of tombs, temples, and clothing. It is believed that it originated from the lotus design, which represented the union of lower and upper Egypt into a single kingdom.

The palmette also resembled the crown of the Sun God, Ra, who represented the divine and the afterlife in Egyptian culture. In ancient Egypt, the palmette can appear as a flower or as a tree with a long trunk. It was often found along the floor of temple walls, where it seems to represent the emergence of life from the Nile River.

Palmette Motif Styles Nazmiyal

Two examples of different styles of the palmette motif.

Palmette Motifs in Greek Artwork

The next place that you begin to see the palmette is in ancient Greece. A large amount of economic and cultural exchange took place between the Greek and Egyptian societies. It is not uncommon to see elements of Egyptian art in Greek decorative arts, too. The Greek palmette is called the anthemion, and it sometimes included recognizable plant and flower portions that give it additional meaning.

The symbol later began to appear in Asia, where it became known as an “Oriental” design. It is also seen throughout Roman art and architecture, too. In ancient Rome, the palmette is often displayed with the lions of Aker above it, guarding the palmette in symbolism that represents the Tree of Life. A version of the palmette is also found in ancient Norse traditions as the sacred World tree. The Saxons also had a version of the symbol called the Irminsul, or sacred pillar.

Palmette Motif Greek Artwork Nazmiyal

Examples of the palmette motif in ancient Greek artwork.

The Golden Age of Persian Rugs

Although the motif is found throughout many cultures long before the Safavid Dynasty came into existence, it is most widely associated with the royal courts of Shah Abbas I. During the early days of the Safavid Dynasty, and the courts went to great lengths to patronize the arts, including rug weaving. The arts were used to show the wealth and power of the Persian courts.

The palmette is named after Shah Abbas I, who is responsible for establishing the court workshops. Palmettes were found in abundance on court rugs and became a symbol of the Safavid rulers. It became like their brand or trademark. Pieces produced in state-sponsored workshops were easily distinguished from the tribal rugs that were woven in the surrounding area.

Palmette Motif Khorassan Nazmiyal

The palmette motif in a Khorassan rug.

The palmette is found most prominently in the rugs of Tabriz, Kerman, Isfahan, and Qum. These cities were home to the weaving shops that were tasked with weaving the spectacular court carpets of the Safavid Dynasty. Its use in these weaving centers seems to indicate that it was a motif that was sanctioned by the courts. Many times, the weavers took liberties with the design and created the palmette using a lotus flower, which is also a symbol for eternal life.

Palmette Motifs Kerman Carpet Nazmiyal

Palmette motifs in a Kerman carpet.

The palmette is a common design found on Persian rugs, but it is also found throughout many cultures and has ancient origins. It’s connection to the Tree of Life and the divine is a theme that is found throughout many cultures where this symbol is found. This begs the question as to whether by using this ancient symbol to represent the Safavid Dynasty Shah Abbas I was implying a connection between the Dynasty and the divine. We might never know the real answer to this, but one thing that we know for sure is that this ancient symbol is one of the most graceful in the Persian rug weaving repertoire.

Here are some beautiful rugs with the palmette motif from the Nazmiyal Collection:

Aubergine Antique Persian Kerman Rug Nazmiyal

Aubergine Antique Persian Kerman Rug

Antique 17th Century Northwest Persian Animal Rug Nazmiyal

Antique 17th Century Northwest Persian Animal Rug

Square Size Antique Irish Donegal Rug Nazmiyal

Square Size Antique Irish Donegal Rug

Large Rustic Antique Persian Sultanabad Carpet Nazmiyal

Large Rustic Antique Persian Sultanabad Carpet

What Is the Shah Abbas Rug Design Pattern?

There is no denying that the beautiful designs in Persian carpets are mesmerizing. They capture the imagination with their beautiful undulating vine work and intricate designs. The colors come together in a way that creates a visual impact like no other art form in the world. The characteristics of antique Persian rugs stand out in the world of art, but certain motifs within them have a special meaning. One of them that you may often see is the floral Shah Abbas rug design palmettes.

Let’s explore this fascinating and familiar floral rug design element.

Shah Abbas Rug Design Nazmiyal

Shah Abbas Rug Design

Who Was Shah Abbas?

The person for which the design was named was the Shah of the Safavid Dynasty in Persia who ruled from 1588 to 1629. Before his rule, the Persian Empire was led by a Sufi leader who was against the adoption of Islam. The area had been under attack by the Mongols, and there was considerable political unrest.

Shah Abbas was able to strengthen the dynasty by replacing the small bands of Sufi soldiers with a regular standing army. By doing so, he was able to expel the Ottoman Empire and the Uzbek troops from Persian land.

Shah Abbas was also known for promoting commerce and supporting the arts. It was during his reign that Persian art reached its height, ushering in the golden age of Persian arts.

Shah Abbas Nazmiyal

A portrait of Shah Abbas, painted by Bishn Das in 1613-19.

Shah Abbas Carpet Weaving Schools

Shah Abbas moved the capital city to Isfahan, where he transformed it into the most one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It also became one of the most important carpet producing centers of the Empire as well. Carpets were produced by highly trained Persian rug weavers, who attended the formal weaving workshop schools that were set up for this purpose.

Master designers created works of art that would be a part of the legacy of the dynasty for hundreds of years. Antique rugs created during this time are some of the most beautiful rugs in the world. The artistry of carpets reached new heights, and many original designs and color combinations were introduced that would eventually become traditional motifs.

The Shah Abbas Persian carpet weaving schools were often tied to the art schools. Some of the carpet designers were also painters and skilled in other forms of art as well. The designs that they produced became highly desirable around the world and allowed the Safavid Dynasty to gain economic strength. The Shah Abbas era carpets became a significant industry and export for the country. They were also a way to show off the power of the dynasty and its wealth. During this time, the production of silk flourished in the area, which also helped the Safavid carpet weaving industry to gain notoriety on a world scale.

Shah Abbas Palmette Nazmiyal

An example of a Shah Abbas palmette.

The History Of The Shah Abbas Palmette Design Pattern

The Shah Abbas rug design palmette became one of the most frequently found motifs. It stood for the Empire and all that it represented. It is a common floral design element on many carpets produced during that time. It is also still incorporated in many Persian carpet designs of today. Sometimes, you will see it in the designs of carpets from other countries, but in this context, it has lost its original meaning and its connection with Shah Abbas.

It is worth noting that although the design represented Shah Abbas and his dynasty, it also appeared in many different forms. There are regional variations, and it is apparent that some used a bit of artistic expression in its creation. It appears as a fan of palm leaves that are often found in all-over and medallion designs. You will also sometimes see it in the border of the rug. They are most frequently found in the Oriental rugs of Isfahan, Kashan, Mashad, and Nain. It is most commonly found in the carpets of Tabriz.

It is often found alongside lotus motifs, peony flowers, and among saz-style leaves. Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish the Shah Abbas palmette from a peony or lotus design. However, if the representation is a peony or lotus, it will often be a simple design. The Shah Abbas palmette is similar but has deeper layers, more leaves and more flourishes. It is more complex artistically than the floral representations.

Although it is most common in Persian traditional rugs, now you will sometimes see it in the older carpets of India, Pakistan, and China. It is a popular design that has migrated throughout the globe but remained eternally connected with the rise of the Safavid Dynasty and Shah Abbas.

We invite you to search our rugs online to see some of the beautiful antique Persian carpets that have the featured Shah Abbas Palmette rug design. Perhaps you will see one that you must have for your own collection.

Some of our favorite Shah Abbas Palmette rugs from the Nazmiyal Collection:

Aubergine Antique Persian Kerman Rug Nazmiyal

Aubergine Antique Persian Kerman Rug

Antique 17th Century Persian Esfahan Rug Nazmiyal

Antique 17th Century Persian Esfahan Rug

Antique Navy Background Tabriz Persian Rug Nazmiyal

Antique Navy Background Tabriz Persian Rug

Antique 16th Century Persian Safavid Salting Rug Nazmiyal

Antique 16th Century Persian Safavid Salting Rug

Antique Persian Tabriz Rug Nazmiyal

Antique Persian Tabriz Rug

This rug blog about Shah Abbas design in Persian rugs was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rug Gallery in NYC.

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