Your Guide to Buying Persian Rugs

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Your Guide to Buying Persian Rugs

Persian rugs, which are made in Iran by skilled artisans, are some of the most sought-after rugs and are highly respected for their quality, durability, and beautiful craftsmanship. A genuine one, depending on its age, size, and quality of craftsmanship, can fetch many thousands, and even millions, of dollars. Iran, the world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, supplies three quarters of the world's total hand-woven carpet output.

There are many different types of Persian rugs available on the market. Some are genuine and of good quality, some are machine-made to resemble a traditional Persian rug, and some are collectible as antiques and worth exorbitant amounts of money. Buying one rug can be difficult for a buyer who does not know what to look for. Many people are concerned about buying a genuine one and paying the right price for what they are getting.

This guide is designed to offer buyers an overview of the different types of Persian rugs available, including different materials used to make them, and provide tips on how to differentiate between genuine rugs and non-genuine articles. This guide also helps buyers learn what to consider when buying a new Persian rug and gives useful advice on how to buy a Persian rug in stores and on eBay.

Overview of Persian Rugs

A Persian rug is made specifically in Iran by skilled artisans. Traditionally, they differed from rugs from other countries, such as Turkey, by the style of knot used in the fabric weave. A Persian area rug smaller than six by four feet is known as a Qa-licheh, and larger rugs are known as Q-li or Farsh. Persian rugs offer an attractive floor covering for any type of room or hallway space. They are most commonly available in a rectangle shape, but circular ones are also available. They are durable enough to handle regular foot traffic, comfortable, and feature many different attractive designs, patterns, motifs, and colors.

Persian Rug Materials

Persian rugs are most commonly made from wool, although cotton rugs are often seen. There are a variety of different wools used, including camel hair wool, Manchester wool, and Kork wool. Some older, antique rugs are made from silk, although these are very expensive and less durable than wool rugs. Silk Persian rugs are quite rare and often displayed as wall hangings instead of being used as floor rugs due to their value.

Many new rugs are made from less traditional materials, such as silk blends, mercerized cotton, and synthetic fibers like olefin.

How to Identify Genuine Persian Rugs

With the increasing prevalence of imitation Persian rugs on the market, it can be difficult for any buyer to identify a genuine Persian rug from a fake. When spending money, buyers want to be sure they are paying a fair price for their chosen rug. There are a few things any buyer can do to help identify the validity of any Persian rug, including examining the labels, knots, and patterns.

Persian Rug Labels

Any genuine Persian rug has a label on the back that identifies the country of origin. A rug made in Turkey, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Pakistan, India, or Nepal is not considered a Persian rug; instead, it is commonly referred to as an Oriental rug.

Persian Rug Knots

Traditionally, a Persian rug was made using a single looping knot, while a Turkish carpet was made using a double looping knot. However, contemporary Persian rugmakers commonly use either type. Therefore, vintage or antique ones should be made using the traditional single looping knot method.

One way to identify a genuine, hand-knotted Persian rug from a machine-made rug is to look at the underside to see if the pattern is visible through the backing. If the design does show through, it is a good indication that it is handmade. A machine-made rug tends to have a thick backing, and the pattern will not show through. Also, when folding the rug back on itself and exposing the base of the pile, a handmade rug should show the rows of knots.

Persian Rug Patterns and Designs

Persian rugs are made with particular layouts and designs, and these designs have changed very little throughout history. Many of the designs have been passed down through generations of family carpet weavers. Persian rugs generally feature one of four layout patterns: an all-over layout, a central medallion layout, a compartment
layout, or a one-sided layout.

Persian rugs also feature particular motifs that have different meanings, and these motifs can be used to identify the region where the rug was made. Here is a summary of some of these rugs and their unique features.

Ardabil: These rugs are made in northwestern Iran's Ardabil Province and are most recognized by a design featuring a diamond medallion and small fish.

Abadeh: Named after the city in which they're made, Abadeh rugs feature a large diamond in the center and smaller diamonds in the corners.

Baluch: These small rugs are made by nomads living near the border of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, and typical colors used in their various designs are blue, red, and brown.

Birjand: Originating from Birjand in Eastern Iran, these rugs are considered the highest quality. Designs vary, but the difference is that the borders of Birjand rugs are heavily packed with details. Colors commonly used are light reds, intense blues, and ivory for contrast.

Kashmar: Made in Eastern Iran and considered one of the highest quality Persian rugs, Kashmar rug patterns typically use the colors cream, light blue, and ivory. Newer rugs also may integrate red, brown, and soft green colors.

Navahand: Originating from the city of Navahand in Western Iran, these rugs are known for their softness, the result of being built on a cotton foundation. Design elements typically include a large, centered medallion surrounded by smaller nomadic designs, and colors used include rich red and khaki over a dark blue background.

There are many other Persian rug designs and styles influenced by the numerous cities and people in the region, so do plenty of research to choose the best option for your home.

Persian Rug Weaving Techniques

Traditionally, all Persian rugs were hand-woven. A genuine, hand-woven rug is far more expensive than a newer, machine-made rug. A buyer should not be expected to pay the same amount of money for a machine-made rug compared to a handmade rug of the same size.

Hand-Woven Persian Rugs

These types of rugs are considered to be of the highest quality. It takes many hours to finish a genuine Persian rug. The quality of craftsmanship of a handmade Persian rug is evident in the shape of the patterns and designs on the rug. Persian rugs can be hand-knotted, hand-tufted, or flat weave rugs. Hand-knotted is the most expensive type of hand-woven rug, and flat weave is the least expensive. Many Persian rugs are made using either horizontal or vertical looms.

Machine-Woven Persian Rugs

A machine-made Persian rug is not considered authentic. There are many imitation rugs, so they should always be much less expensive than a hand-woven one. If a buyer likes the look of a Persian rug but does not want to spend a great deal of money, a machine-made rug with a Persian design is a great way to have the look without the
high price tag.


What to Consider When Buying a Persian Rug

When it comes to buying a Persian rug, there are so many options that it can seem overwhelming. Determining a budget is the first step. Then, a buyer should decide where the Persian rug will be placed for sizing purposes. To get the best quality rug for any particular budget, it is best to consider size, quality, and age.

Persian Rug Size

Not surprisingly, the larger the rug, the more expensive the price. When looking to purchase a Persian rug, it is important to have measurements of the desired size to narrow down the search, and being flexible on the size (e.g., considering a smaller rug) can reduce the overall price.


Persian Rug Quality

The quality of any Persian rug can vary dramatically. Quality affects the value of the rug significantly. There are a few key points to consider, such as knot density and wool type.


Persian Rug Knot Density

The knot density, which is how many knots per square inch are present in the rug, is a major contributing factor to the quality. On average, Persian rugs range from 30 to 300 knots per square inch. Rugs with 30 knots per square inch are very coarse and of lower quality. Rugs with 300 knots per square inch are very thick, of high quality, and  generally very expensive.


Hand-spun or Machine-spun Wool

Hand-spun wool rugs use wool fibers that are spun by hand. These are considered more valuable, as the handmade method gives uniqueness to every different rug. Machine-spun wool rugs give a more even and uniform look to the rug.

Synthetic or Natural Dyes

A natural dye Persian rug is generally up to 30 percent more expensive than a synthetic dye rug. Natural dye rugs are more limited in the variety of colors available, and they do not tend to hold their vibrancy and intensity as well as synthetic dye rugs do. Natural dye Persian rugs are considered more authentic, and therefore, more sought-after and expensive.


Persian Rug Age

A Persian rug 100 years old or more is considered antique. A rug between 50 and 99 years old is referred to as a semi-antique rug. Antique Persian rugs are considered very collectible. A well-kept, genuine, handmade Persian rug will increase in value over time.


Where to Buy a Persian Rug

There are a wide variety of places to buy a Persian rug. Many brick-and-mortar carpet stores sell the less expensive, machine-made versions and imitation rugs. Many outdoor markets and street markets also sell Persian rugs. It is here that a buyer can take the opportunity to haggle and bargain down the price. However, a buyer does need to be aware of what they are buying to ensure they are not overcharged. For more valuable, genuine Persian rugs, buyers can head to a specialized Persian rug dealer. These specialty stores generally focus on selling only top-quality, genuine Persian rugs and antique collectible rugs. Some people even choose to travel to the Middle East to purchase a genuine Persian rug to bring back home.

There are also a wide variety of online sites that sell genuine Persian rugs. Searching online enables a buyer to choose from a large selection of rugs in all sorts of price ranges. eBay is one online site that offers buyers a wide variety of Persian rugs in various sizes, colors, levels of quality, and price ranges.


Buying a Persian Rug on eBay

Shopping on eBay offers buyers the ability to easily search for Persion rugs by using keyword search methods. Type"Persian rugs" into the search bar to see a wide selection of results. If they are too broad, it may help to refine your search further by adding additional search terms, like the desired size (6x9, for example) and colors.

When buying any Persian rug on eBay, it is important to factor in the delivery costs,and it is recommended to check out the seller's feedback rating and return policy. Once an eBay buyer finds the right Persian rug to buy, payment can be made using a secure method, such as PayPal or credit card.

Buyers should familiarize themselves with how eBay and PayPal work together to protect buyers and sellers. Although a rare event, if an item fails to arrive or is different than described,  eBay's guarantee may cover the purchase price plus original shipping.



Buying a Persian rug does not have to be a daunting task. With a little knowledge about what to look for in a Persian rug, any buyer can identify a genuine Persian rug from an imitation. Moreover, a number of factors affect a rug's value and price. Its age, size, the materials it is made from, its knot density, whether it is made from natural or synthetic dyes, and whether it is made from hand-spun or machine-spun fibers all affect the price of any particular Persian rug. Buying a Persian rug from a reputable dealer offers buyers peace of mind that they are paying a worthy price for the chosen rug.


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