Understanding the Symbolism in Antique Rugs

For the untrained eye, the symbols and signs on antique rugs may seem like random designs. However, for weavers and expert appraisers, there is a story in every stitch. When those symbols are ‘read’ in their entirety, they reveal the weaver’s story and a glimpse of their community and society. Some appraisers and experts can also determine the country, city, and even district from such symbols.

Here are some of the symbols you can find on rug imports and their meanings:

The Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life symbol appears in rugs that depict different cultures. The mandala symbolizes the cyclical nature of life as per the beliefs of the time. For tribal people who make these designs, the wheel represents life as a gift - it focuses on hardships and how they should be embraced rather than rejected. The latch hooks encircling the wheel represents the dragon. The stars in the wheel represent the fruit that can appear if we face life with dignity and balance.

The Boteh

Before the Indian paisley, there was the boteh. It’s usually stitched as a flame, but it is often compared to a sprouting seed by the tribal leaders . The boteh represents humanity’s potential for growth amidst hardship, as well as the power of regeneration. It symbolizes our propensity for abundance even during challenging times, which was a way of life for ancient tribes. The boteh usually engulfs or embraces a mature plant which symbolizes the importance of a wider perspective.

The Gazelle

In the past, tribes people would attribute certain animals with characteristics and traits that they admired. For them, the gazelle symbolized grace and dignity which should be practiced in every aspect of life. You can often find the animal mid-prance on antique rugs in the best rug store.

The Vase

A vase or a group of vases is often the principal design element in some antique rugs. The motif is popular in traditional Oriental rugs and was incorporated in rugs for centuries as a symbol of peace and tranquility. The vase is typically designed as a Grecian urn with or without handles. It is usually at the foot of the rug right underneath an archway and filled with different flowers of varying lengths.

Visit Our Showroom at Modern Rug Imports

You can find all of these symbols, and more, in our traditional rugs at Modern Rug Imports. We specialize in offering the best antique and modern rugs that are sourced from weavers and suppliers from across the globe. Our fully stocked showroom, at 514 E 1st Tustin,CA, 92653, is updated with new rugs regularly ensuring our esteemed clients have a wide selection from which they can choose from. Get in touch with us to book a personal tour today! Get the best quality rugs at prices that you have to see to believe.