Persian rugs, sometimes also called Iranian or Oriental rugs, are distinguished by both their craftsmanship and their design. Known for their elaborate designs, these rugs can take months or even years to complete, depending on size and depth of pile.
The world's earliest known rug, the Pazyryk carpet, has been radiocarbon dated to around 400 B.C. and demonstrates the characteristic geometric pattern edged by increasingly elaborate concentric borders. There are also records in the writings of Homer and other Greeks of the use of carpets from Persia, showing they have long existed in the Mediterranean parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. Surviving examples are relatively rare, however, as the carpets tend to deteriorate over time.
Persian rugs are traditionally made of cotton, wool or silk woven into yarn by hand, though it can also be done with the help of specialized machines. The yarn is then dyed into a variety of colors. Traditionally these colors came entirely from plants and insects, though today synthetic dyes are also commonly used.
The weaving is the most time-consuming process, involving a base layer of crisscrossing lines of yarn. Additional yarn is tied, once again usually by hand, in a series of characteristic knots that give the carpets their familiar strength and appearance, as well as their luxurious feel.