Symbolism in Antique Rugs


Antique rugs are referenced as such due to the age and quality the rug holds. Generally, those that are almost a century old and have a rich history and back story. It is a pleasant feeling to walk on these admirable rugs and press your feet on its quilted surface. It’s a known fact that hand-knotted rugs can last for generations. Often fine handmade rugs are passed down as heirlooms and become a part of a family’s legacy. There is a huge market globally for vintage rugs and each rug tells a story. Each symbol holds a meaning and the colors in combination with the symbols give clues and indicate where the carpet originates.

By learning the meanings of antique rug patterns, you will be able to “read a rug” and understand what the weaver tells us. The names of Persian rug patterns are derived from the city, village, or tribe where particular patterns were first woven or traded.



Some common symbols and meanings are as follows:

Symbols and Motifs of Oriental Rugs

Star – Spirituality, Good Luck

Numbers – Signify Dates and Times

Mihrab – Gateway to Paradise

Herati – Water Garden, Fish-Mahi

Hand – Prayer Rug

Diamond – Signifies women. Two diamonds attached together represent a man and woman

Cross – Faith

Comb – Cleanliness

Ewer, Jug – Purification

Boteh – Flame, Universe

Amulet – Thwarts Evil Eye 

Hyacinth – Regeneration

Pomegranate – Fertility

Leaf – Endless Regeneration

Cypress – Serenity, Rebirth

Tulip – Prosperity

Rose – White: Innocence; Red: Passion; General: Mystery

Blossom – Youth, Spring, Newly Wed

Peony – Power

Lotus – Rebirth, Immortality

Lily – Purity, Spirituality

Iris – Religious Liberty

Tree of Life – Direct path from Earth to Heaven

Paradise Bird – Paradise

Dog – Protection, Trust, Defense

Peacock – Immortality

Parrot – Escaping from danger, Protection

Duck, Swan – Marital Fertility, Enchantment

Eagle – Power

Bird – Faith, Fertility

Snake – Guardian, Wisdom

Dragon – Power

Chicken, Rooster – Protection from evil eye

Man – Depiction of weaver in rug

Camel – Wealth, Prosperity

GreenThe holy colour of the Prophet Mohammed – it’s used sparingly in places least likely to be walked on. Hope, Renewal, Life, Spring
RedBeauty, Wealth, Courage, Luck, Joy, Faith
BluePower or Force, Solitude – Allusion to the After Life
OrangeHumility and Piety

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