Motifs and Symbolism
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Zigzag Border
Running water. Without water, there is no life.

Eight Pointed Star
Sometimes called Solomon’s star or Mohammed’s jewel. This design is extremely old and probably meant spiritual revelation.

The 'S' Design
Also called hook. This design is used for strong relationship.

The Five Dots
Five important things for Moslems: 1. Pray five times a day. 2. Do Ramadan. 3. Go to Mecca. 4. Give to the poor. 5. Believe in Mohammed

Noah's Ark
This design is seen on was that come from Mt. Ararat region, where it is believed that Noah’s Ark laded after the flood. They feature many animal motifs which as well as having religious significance and representative of the natural environment of the weaver.

Symbol of immortality and rebirth

Women with Hands on Hips
Woven to denote fertility, motherhood is not only identified with fertility bu is symbol of scared duties of giving life to children and protecting them.

The most effective precaution against the “eye” which is regarding to be guilty or harmful and fatal looks sign for protection.

Love Birds
Love birds with heads facing each other s a sign of true love.

Nomads weave this magic motif, i.e. the triangle of charm, into a corner of their carpets so that they are completed without any defect or trouble, and not affected by the evil eye. Newly-wed brides also fold their headscarves into a triangle, letting them drop behind, to denote a wish of productivity, fertility and charm.

The ruler of the sky and an image of power and height, the eagle is a symbol of the sky and a healthy life because of its ability to look straight into the sun. The eagle, as the king of the birds, protects the people. An eagle with its head turned to the right symbolizes holiness and protection.

It symbolizes rebirth and fertility, because one grain that falls to the soil produces hundreds of new grains. Women who weave this motif usually express a wish that their crops be plenty and bring abundance to their homes.

Goose Foot
It is believed that a goose foot inside a circle or triangle brings luck. Each toe of a goose foot symbolizes one of the rules in divine trio (Holiness, Productivity, Fertility)

It is a symbol of courage and heroism. A woman who weaves this pattern into her carpet wants to say that her man is a strong and courageous person.

Human Being
A woman weaver often weaves herself, her family or a member of her family into her carpets, such as husband and wife or mother and daughter figures, and this usually represents the weaver’s expectation of a child.

Scorpions are in effect a natural disaster for nomads. They often break into the tent; their sting is very painful and may sometimes be deadly. A scorpion motif woven into a carpet symbolizes the instinct of protection against this animal. In the belief of nomads, a scorpion cannot approach a carpet if there is such a motif in it. The scorpion is also a symbol of “pride and liberty”. Hence a scorpion surrounded by fire commits suicide by stinging itself when it realizes that the circle of fire is insurmountable.

Every tribe places a unique identification mark (stamp) on their carpets and kilims. These stamps not only serve the purpose of strengthening and promoting tribal unity but they are also woven so as to assist in sorting out or identifying the tribal origin of carpets which have been mixed or lost.

It is the most important means of transport for nomads. Reserving a place for them also in carpets denotes blessing for this obedient animal that has carried the goods of the tribe patiently and untiringly for many years.

Tree of Life
It is a big, tall tree which is believed to have grown out of the centre of the world, living for centuries, knowing the secrets of the world, and being close to the universal powers. It is a tree, which is regarded as the stairs of human journey from the underground to the sky, its knots grasping the world and its branches hosting the birds of Paradise. Denoting life and death, the Tree of life is often woven into carpets as an Anatolian motif. The birds of life that will fly away when the time comes. It is believed that after death spirits come to the branches of this tree to envoy endless happiness.

Believed to live in every place, every climate and region, the sacred imaginary animal of the sea, sky, mountain and forest, the Dragon is a symbol of power, force and might for its ability to produce flames from its mouth and its supernatural appearance (multi-headed, multi-legged, multi-tailed, etc.)

Hair Band
This motif is frequently woven with a view to expressing desire for marriage

Wolf's Mouth
It is a symbol woven by nomads for protection against wild animals they frequently encounter in nature.

A white rose symbolizes love, a red rose symbolizes passion, and a wild rose symbolizes yearning

It symbolizes the magic power and infinite sleep.

It symbolizes marriage wishes

Sacred Light
It is a symbol of sacred, luminous, inextinguishable, endless light of Paradise

It is a symbol of golden post mythology, and symbolizes power, force and might.

Ram's Horn
It is a symbol of power, force, heath and happiness; it also denotes man’s fertility and the power of giving life and protection.

Numbers like 3,5,7,9 etc. are usually regarded to be sacred. These numbers are represented in the borders of carpets. 3 symbolizes earth, sky, water, holiness, productivity, fertility and so on. 5 means of five fingers of the hand or five prayers in a day. 7 symbolizes seven levels of the sky. Almost all Turkish carpets have such a number of borders that corresponds to one of these figures.

Flying Birds
It symbolizes the birds, which bring good and happy news.

It represents happiness of the family

Pomegranate fruit is the fruit of Paradise, regarded as sacred in Anatolia. It is even believed that scattering pomegranate fruit inside the house of in a newly-wed bride will make the marriage long-lasting and productive, as well as making the family rich, with many children who will have long life. It, therefore, symbolizes abundance and fertility.

It is a motif which is related to life and death. It is believed that a person dies with every falling leaf and a person is born with every new leaf. It is also symbolizes the immortality of the spirit.

Gold Scales
As a precision instrument symbolizing justice on which sins and good deeds are weighed, it denotes a wish for going to heaven.

Star Motif
Hook 'S' Design
Woman with Hands on Hips


Bird Motifs

Human Being


Tree of Life


Hair Band

Wolf's Mouth


Ram's Horn

Colors and Dying

Until the late nineteenth century, the wool in Oriental rugs was colored with dyes made from natural sources; mostly plants and insects. Cochineal is obtained from the Dactylopius coccus insect found in cacti, but the bulk of the reds were derived from the root of wild madder, blue from the indigo plant, yellow from saffron, isperek (milkwort), vine leaves and pomegranate, and also from buckthorn. Green came from turmeric berries, blacks and greys from brazil or logwood, brown from nuts and tree bark. These materials, carefully blended according to closely guarded recipes handed down from generation to generation, produced colors the hues of which cannot to this day be chemically reproduced.

In the late nineteenth century, Western commerce visited one of its occasional unintentional curses on the Third World. The weavers in Turkey and Persia were introduced to aniline dyes which they welcomed because they were cheap and saved all the painstaking hours formerly spent over the boiling vat. The passage of time, however, revealed the mixed nature of this blessing: the dyes were unstable and colors changed hue,
almost always for the worse. Certain dyes also physically attacked the wool, corroding the face of the rug and producing an intaglio effect, which in itself affected the hue because the light struck it differently. These events, combined with structural short-cuts taken at the same time to increase output, resulted in a degeneration in quality of output so serious that edicts were issued by the Shah declaring that dye houses could be destroyed and that dyers found using the forbidden chemicals could have their right hand amputated.

By the 1920s of course the West had moved on and synthetic dye stuffs were produced which were, and continue to be, used widely in rug output without catastrophic results either for the rugs or the dyers. Thus the bulk of production in the last fifty or sixty years boasts colors resulting from the use of a mixture of chemically based and natural dyes, and many very beautiful and desirable pieces are so colored. To the discriminating eye, however, some of the hues are visually aggressive, and there are now new initiatives, some government-sponsored, to reintroduce the use of dyes derived from natural sources only. This antipathy to chemical dyes should not be dismissed as precious self-indulgence on the part of the connoisseur because the use of chemicals does have two serious disadvantages:

The first disadvantage is stability. The very fact that the artificial dyes are now so admirably stable takes away an integral part of the traditional charm of an ageing rug. The hues do not mellow to produce the subtle patina of age as did the natural dyes. Secondly, there is universality. The synthetic dye comes out of the can in Kurdistan exactly the same hue as it does in Herat, thus denying an important source of information: in older pieces, the hue of the colors is a tangible aid to identification. In eastern Persia, for instance, the most common base of the red was cochineal and in the West, madder. Thus the blue-red of the former, compared to the rust red of the latter, could be a helpful clue in identification. Thus does 'progress' blur character and individuality.

The Significance of Color

Many colors used in the rugs are understood to have a meaning often intriguingly at variance with their significance (if any) in the West.

WHITE - is the color of mourning.
RED - burns with passion. It is the color of vibrant life, happiness and success, especially in creative activities.
YELLOW - the color of the sun, indicates plenty, riches and glorious power.
GREEN - as elsewhere, signifies renewal and growth, but, more importantly for Muslims, holiness, as it was the color of Mohammed's coat, and therefore not suitable to be walked upon and not used by them in rugs for that reason.
BROWN - indicates fruitful fertility.
ORANGE -sometimes interpreted in the West as the color of hatred, is, in reverse, the color associated with sympathetic feelings like devotion and tenderness in the East.
Some plants for natural dying

Some plants for natural dying

Pomegranates are used as source of yellow dye.