The meaning of plant symbols in luxury rugsAug 16.2021
In addition to the use of religious and geometric motifs, the rich symbolism of Oriental luxury rugs also includes numerous plant symbols. Trees, flowers and fruit have been used in Oriental carpets for centuries, both for their high decorative capacity and for the spiritual or good luck significance they carry.
The most common plant symbols used in Oriental luxury rugs
The symbolism used in Oriental luxury carpets is strongly linked to the history and traditions of the people of the Caucasus and Persian regions. It is from the work of these peoples that the most elaborate designs were born, and which still captivate with their beauty today.
Plants and flowers have also often been used in the Chinese tradition, but with a different meaning. This is a sign of the considerable influence of local culture and customs on the way symbols are used and interpreted.
The tree of life is one of the most recurrent symbols in carpets of Persian and Caucasian origin. The tree of life has a deep spiritual meaning and represents the profound connection between the earthly and divine dimensions. Often the tree of life is also associated with paradise and eternal life. In some cases the tree of life is used as a good luck symbol, to bring good luck or an abundance of crops.
In Chinese culture, however, the most common plant symbol is the lotus flower. As well as being one of the sacred symbols of Buddhism, this flower represents purity and spiritual elevation.
The most common motifs using plant symbols
Decorations inspired by the plant world have often resulted in recurring motifs in Oriental carpets. The use of fine and very fine wool yarns has made it possible to create luxurious carpets of considerable value and with highly complex designs. Thanks to the use of fine wool fibres it is possible to obtain a high number of knots per square centimetre, allowing for a very high degree of detail in the composition of the image.
The Herati pattern, which takes its name from the Afghan city of Herat, is one of the best known luxury carpets of Oriental origin. It is characterised by a large central flower, often enclosed in a rhombus and surrounded by acanthus leaves. It is a purely decorative pattern and is sometimes also referred to as a ‘fish’ pattern due to the similarity between acanthus leaves and fish.
The boteh motif is also one of the most characteristic patterns in Persian carpets. It is a symbol that originated in the Zoroastrian tradition, resembling the shape of an almond or cypress tree, and is composed of a pattern that vaguely resembles the shape of a rhombus, with one end bent to one side. The term boteh in the Persian language means ‘cluster of leaves’ and indicates the composition of the motif quite precisely. Boteh motifs are composed using various types of leaves or pine cones. In Caucasian and Persian carpets the pattern is repeated across the central field, arranged in neat rows that create a beautiful geometric effect.
Especially floral motifs have been frequently used for decorative purposes, to embellish carpet designs. The rose is the most suitable flower for this purpose and is used, for example, in carpets with gül and Mina Khani motifs. Even more elaborate and refined is the Shah Abbas pattern, also repeated throughout the central field of the carpet and based on the representation of palmettes surrounded by decorative floral designs.
The correct use of colours further enhances the floral patterns and plant symbols chosen for the decoration. Hand-knotted carpets from the Persian and Caucasian regions frequently use wool coloured with different shades of red to represent the colour nuances of flowers and to create geometric patterns.
Nature has always been the primary source of inspiration for traditional hand-knotted Oriental carpets. Even today, in contemporary luxury carpets, flowers and plants inspire designers to create unique pieces for homes and workplaces. Whether antique or modern carpets, these works of art created by the hands of skilled craftsmen are able to make their surroundings special and prestigious.
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