Tips for Buying the Perfect Persian Carpet

Every city in Iran has unique crafts which make a memorable souvenir, but buying the perfect Persian carpet must be all that’s left. But with so many types and patterns being available, it can be a bit too much for one to keep an eye on. So we have compiled this helpful guide. It can be dizzying to walk through an Iranian bazaar where you’re shopping for Persian rugs, with the insistent merchants calling on you to their you need to have the proper ammunition in your battle for a bargain. Knowledge is power, and knowing the holy trinity of carpet buying will arm you with the information and confidence you need.

The knot count

The traditional Persian carpet is made by hand using a loom and one of the key features to be watched out for is its number of knots. A quality rug will have at least 120 knots per square inch (6sqcm). To appear a carpet connoisseur in front of the seller, flip the rug over and look at the knots from the underside. It is not expected that you will count them, but the back of a carpet has much to say.A handmade rug will have a soft backing with a few bigger knots, while a machine-made one will raise an eyebrow due to the knot uniformity. Even in Tabriz, one of the oldest Persian carpet weaving centres in Iran, the knot count will vary from rug to rug.

The material

Wool, silk or a blend of wool and silk is normally used for handwoven carpets originating in Persia. Most rugs are very good, and have a bright finish, when they’re 100 per cent silk. The material with the highest number of uses is wool. The quality is dependent on sheep breeds, climatic conditions, pastures and time of shorning. Don’t mistake these two quality flame-resistant materials for the synthetic fibers of machine-made carpets, which are highly flammable and tend to give off lint.

The colour

Traditional Iranian carpets are made with natural dyes, so look for colors that seem to come from nature: cochineal insects for reds, indigo plant for blues, and pomegranate rind for shades of yellow. A synthetic dye tends to penetrate the fibre evenly whereas a natural dye covers the surface. Bend the carpet to isolate a few threads; if you notice a subtle unevenness you know you’re dealing with natural colours.

Now that you know the three most important factors to look for in a Persian rug, here are a few other pointers to help you narrow down your choice further.

Set a budget

Prices for Persian carpets differ considerably from their dizzying diversity of floral and geometric designs, which makes it necessary to set a budget. Silk rugs will be at the expensive end of the spectrum, with the rarer material and higher knot count coming at a higher price. Because there’s a lot of wool available, rugs will be more affordable. If you’ve got a limited budget, consider a new trend rising in popularity: quilt-like carpets made with squares of old rugs patched together.

Determine its use

Take a look at the place you want to put your carpet, what it will be used for. Although silk rugs may be the ultimate luxury item, they are less resistant to stress and thus serve a more decorative purpose, sometimes even hung on a wall. Wool rugs are more practical because they’re durable and can handle a high volume of foot traffic for decades, even centuries, and they don’t show signs of wear and tear.

Know the difference between types

Not all Persian carpets are created equal, and it’s not unusual for novices to mistake a Gelim (a flat woven carpet) or a Gabbeh (a pile rug commonly woven by nomads) for a traditional Persian carpet just because it’s from Iran. There are some beautiful varieties, but be sure to understand the difference between them so you can not invest in a bad variety. Fall in love with a pattern

Fall in love with a pattern

Floral? Geometric? Paisley? Traditional? Tribal? carpet patterns differ greatly depending on what area of Iran they come from. Get a feel for what your options are as you walk through the bazaars or window-shop. Rest assured, there’s a pattern out there for everyone.


No one wants to be picked up for a ride, so it’s all down to negotiation. But when it comes down to Persian carpets, you’re getting what you pay for. While you’re not going to pay an excessive sum, something that costs so little will show its quality. It’s always wise to remember that you invest in an art piece. The construction of an Iranian rug is laborious, the weavers hunched over a loom for several months to years depending upon its size, with painstaking handwork being done in order to build up thousands of knots.


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