The rich craftsmanship of oriental rugs

Tabriz, Lori Pambak, Heriz or Kelim? The terminology of Oriental rugs can be confusing, let Medecine help you work out some of the concepts.

medecine old heriz


The manufacture of carpets is an old and traditional craft with a thousand-year history. The oldest rug-finds date back to the 4th century BC around the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. The art of rug making however is believed to have originated in Armenia from where nomads spread the craft throughout the world along what's called the "carpet belt" that extends from Morocco via the Middle East through Central Asia to China.

Whether the craft was invented by nomads or not is a hotly debated question with many facets. One theory suggests that rugs were originally used by nomads in tents to protect against cold and dirt. Generally lightweight, rugs could be easily rolled up and transported, an obvious advantages to animal skins. 

One of the oldest weaving-techniques is the "flatweave" that we find in Kelim rugs which allows for a very decorative pattern, clearly visible on both sides of the carpet. A technique that has made the Kelim one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable oriental rugs.

kelim medecine


Oriental rugs are characterized by their wide variety of decorative patterns, often geometric or floral and include things like animals, flowers or everyday objects. Patterns vary from region and has its own traditional patterns and motifs, which is makes identifying a rug easier.

As a general rule, rugs are named after place of origin. Tabriz, Heriz and Dorokhsh - are all cities in Iran - while Senneh is a region the western Kurdistan. Pretty much all regions or cities in the middle east have some form of rug named after them.

Rugs are however not only identified by place of origin but also by the people who make them. Yomut rugs for instance are made by the Turkmen Yomut tribe living in northeastern Iran, east of the Caspian Sea. Their rugs can be easily identified by their reddish brown and yellow shades.



Quality, beauty of motifs and colors all contribute to the reputation of each oriental rug, and it's no surprise that they've been mentioned already back in ancient times by the Greeks and Romans. Crusaders brought rugs from the Middle East to Europe during the middle ages as they not only added comfort to travels, but were much desired and exotic goods throughout Europe. It wasn't long until European rug manufacturers themselves began copying oriental techniques and motifs in their own production.

The oriental rug has since time immemorial lodged itself securely in the Western mind as not only a magical mode of transport as in the Arabian sagas, but an object of art with enduring beauty that offers a sense of magic of everyday. 

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