What is the meaning of geometric symbols in luxury rugs?
Luxury carpets of Middle Eastern origin are rich in symbols that not only have a decorative function, but also often have a specific meaning that refers to the mythology or religion of the place where they were made. Knowing what the motifs and geometric symbols used in luxury carpets represent helps you learn about the history of the carpet and allows you to make a more informed choice of the most suitable design for your home.
What are the meanings of the patterns and geometric symbols used in luxury rugs?
The first carpets were made by nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes living in the region between the Caucasus and the Arabian Peninsula. The women in charge of weaving used elements of everyday life as well as symbols that recalled the religion or spiritual beliefs shared within the tribe.
Over time, patterns were created that eventually identified the place where the carpet was made. Although each carpet is unique in that it is made by hand and with original designs that differ from one another, the presence of shared symbols means that the origin and meaning of a Persian luxury carpet can be inferred from looking at it.
The repetition of geometric motifs and symbols can be observed throughout the surface of the carpet or only in the central field. In the latter case, the geometric pattern is highlighted and enhanced by the presence of a more or less decorated outer frame.
What are the most common patterns used in luxury Oriental carpets?
There are several geometric patterns that can be found when looking at antique Persian luxury carpets. Some are a clear religious reference and can be seen in Islamic prayer rugs as well as everyday carpets, while others are stylised representations of natural elements. Others are stylised representations of natural elements. There are also motifs obtained from the repetition of simple geometric lines, creating an orderly and harmonious pattern.
Among the carpets woven in the Persian region and India, it is common to find carpets with Boteh or Kashmiri patterns. These carpets have a rather simple outer frame and a repetition of drop motifs in the central field. There are various interpretations of the meaning of this motif. According to some, it represents the tear of Allah and according to others, the tear of Buddha. The most widely accepted interpretation, however, is that the teardrop shape represents a cypress tree, a symbol of immortality and the renewal of life.
Another common geometric symbol in luxury Oriental carpets is the eight-pointed star, which may be present as the main large ornament in the centre of the carpet or as a small motif repeated across the surface of the carpet. The eight-pointed star is an auspicious symbol and represents happiness.
Geometric symbols found on luxury carpets of Persian and Caucasian origin include the hooked cross. The swastika is a symbol that was often used in antiquity and probably originated with Indo-European peoples. The hooked cross, used alone in the central medallion or alternating with other geometric motifs, most likely symbolises a stylised sun.
In Turkmenistan carpets the predominant motif is the gul, an octagonal medallion that is repeated throughout the central body of the carpet. The predominant colour in these carpets is red, on which the pattern of the succession of guls stands out. The term means flower and represents the land inhabited by the local people. Within each gul other symbols can be seen, such as eight-pointed crosses or geometric lines.
Geometric symbols with a religious reference include mirhabs, which represent the niches inside mosques and are usually reproduced on carpets used for prayer, and gonbads, which, through the use of lines and geometric patterns, reproduce the decorated ceilings of mosques.
As with the symbols of the animal kingdom, geometric motifs also tell the story of luxury carpets of oriental origin and have been used as symbols of good luck or as elements used to represent the everyday life of local populations.
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