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An Ode To Oriental Rugs

by Caitlin Kelch

When we launched our #DSNiceRug challenge on Instagram back in 2014, we not only got serious rug envy, but we were captivated by the rich colors of the Oriental rugs readers shared with us. Even the vintage Orientals still had deep reds next to faded shades of crimson. Old books on this classic style of rugs describe how, long ago, the men of the family sheared the wool from their own lambs and the women then wove rugs, with designs inspired by their family traditions.

Oriental rugs have a distinct feature that most others don’t. The part of the rug we walk on, the pile, is actually tied to the rug’s foundation layer. Some say this is the reason that Oriental rugs last far longer than other rugs that are either glued to the foundation layer or simply passed through that bottom layer. The pile on Oriental rugs lasts until the bottom layer wears through. Traditionally, weavers tie and knot pre-dyed pieces of yarn onto the foundation of Oriental rugs and the pile created by these knots is actually the two ends of the knotted yarn.

Traditionally, rug made in and from Morocco across North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, northern India, northern China, Tibet, Turkey, Iran, India and Pakistan have all been designated fallen within the category of “Oriental” rugs.

Whatever your taste or style, Oriental rugs are bound to catch your eye with their endless variations of colors, textures and patterns. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites from our archives and from our sponsor Main Street Oriental Rugs!

Image above: Alea and Peter’s cool bohemian home gets a little detail, color and eclectic style from their beautiful oriental rug.

This post is sponsored by Main Street Oriental Rugs, offering quality new & vintage rugs online & in store. Enjoy free U.S. shipping on all orders. Visit their website here. Thank you for supporting our sponsors who help us bring you free, original content every weekday.

Image above by @katiehodgesdesign from our #DSNiceRug feed


This Soumak Mostafavi rug is one of our favorites from Main Street Oriental Rugs.

  • Origin: Russia
  • Design: Soumak Mostafavi
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Weave: Hand-knotted
  • Field Color: Red / Navy / Aqua


This gorgeous Afghani Serapi almost demands a worn leather couch and a glowing fire!

  • Origin: Afghanistan
  • Design: Serapi
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Weave: Hand-knotted
  • Field Color: Navy Blue
  • Border Color: Deep Coral

The blues in this Arts & Crafts runner are sublime.

  • Origin: Pakistan
  • Design: Arts & Crafts
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Weave: Hand-knotted
  • Field Color:  Natural
  • Border Color: Natural
  • Accent Colors: Dark Blue, Cool Blue, Navy, Green

This Tribal rug from Pakistan has such a warm feel with those deep rust and indigo hues.

Another favorite is this Afghani rug with an intricate pattern that almost feels architectural.

  • Origin: Afghanistan
  • Design: Sina
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Weave: Hand-knotted
  • Field Color: Carnelian
  • Border Color: Yellow

And finally, the modest pinks and purples used sparingly in this antique* rug make the browns and blues even more commanding.

  • Origin: Russia
  • Design: Kuba Perepedil Kazak
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Weave: Hand-knotted
  • Field Color: Dark Blue
  • Border Color: Cream

To see even more beautiful rugs, visit Main Street Oriental Rugs.



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  • You write an article about oriental rugs and don´t mention turkish, iranian and indian rugs? Especially the knot technique in the turkish rugs differ from the others. The colors from real rugs are not synthetic, they are all plant-based, and so on.
    The patterns on the kilim (they are woven, not knotted) all have a meaning, with the signature forms from the women who made them.

    • I agree. This is not an informative post—just a few nice pictures to provide links to the advertiser. I wouldn’t mind a sponsored post if some real effort went into it.

      • Meg

        I’m sorry you feel that way, but there is effort in this post. We try to post as few sponsored posts as possible, and if one comes along that gives us a chance to celebrate some beautiful rugs from home tours, it’s a great way for us to showcase our favorite home tours without having to do product placement, etc, which readers usually find even more upsetting.

        I’m sorry if you felt the post would provide a deeper historical context. I think the word “ode” here is more a playful gesture to the rugs we’ve enjoyed seeing in our #dsnicerug feed. We’ll be sure to keep titles, etc. in mind so people don’t feel they’re about to read something that is different from the content.


    • Hi Lola,

      When I wrote this post I did, indeed, do a bit of research on what exactly falls under the category of “Oriental ” rugs and you are correct, they do include rugs from Morocco across North Africa, the Middle East, and into Central Asia and northern India, as well as northern China, Tibet, Turkey, Iran, India and Pakistan.

      When I use the term “Oriental”, all of those regions are included. I’ll add that information to the post.

      My Best,

  • I like this blog, but I agree with Lola and Meg. I’m disappointed in the tone and substance of Grace’s reply. Responding to a genuine comment regarding areas where there could be more effort and substance with “there *is* effort in this post” is not constructive and not very respectful of the readers. It’s true that this post could have been more accurately titled “an advertisement” instead of “an ode,” so I agree with Grace on that point. And I would not have clicked on it had it been more accurately titled.

    • Kathy

      The only way we have been able to provide free content to readers every day for 14 years is by making advertisements a part of this site. So while you may find my response disappointing, which I am sorry you’re feeling, I find it disappointing that you would not click on a post that is marked as an advertisement. Those posts- and tolerating them- are literally what allows us to keep providing our audience with free content.

      I apologize if my general sadness about the state of the blog world has bled into this conversation, which is probably has. Our team has worked hard (and for not a lot of money) for 14 years to provide large amounts of free content and advice and resources and when people say they won’t read ads, or think something feels too much like an ad, it hurts. We’re real people and we have feelings and some days it just tips over into a breaking point. I’m sorry if that feeling I was having came across as less than constructive. I appreciate all of our readers. But ads a a really tough subject. We don’t ask anyone to pay for content, but merely to understand that these ads are a part of our site so you can read for free every day. I know that’s too much to ask for some people, but accepting that can be really hard when you’ve devoted your life to maintaining a free resource for so long.


      • Hi Grace,
        I have to mention that i like your ads. As a person who doesn´t like go shopping, for me your ads are very useful and informative. They replaced the high street shopping for me. And your choice of products is always conform with my taste. I don´t remember when I started to read your site, but from the beginning I always click on the ads, because of my interst in the products.
        My complain about the article was that ; I expected an informative article about oriental rugs , the titel suggested it, instead it was only an informative ad about a distinct company. I wouldn´t have complained if the article was ” A new site for wunderful oriental rugs”.
        I´m looking forward for such an article:-)

      • Advertisements ARE a tough subject. You say you run ads so that you don’t ask us readers to pay, but receiving payment isn’t necessary to run a blog. There is a cost with the model you are running, with paying workers and owning your domain name. It is absolutely your choice to try to make a living from your blog. I think other readers, like me, have been around since the blogging heyday 14 years ago. I know I am disappointed with the monetization of the Internet. I do not click on ads and I wouldn’t have clicked on this article if I wasn’t expecting a roundup of your amazing stock of interior design. This type of article forces me into the role of customer rather than reader, against my choice. It’s disappointing.

        • Anne On

          I’m sorry, but your statement “receiving payment isn’t necessary to run a blog” is literally untrue.

          Here are some simple things that cost money and require payment:

          1. Buying a domain and maintaining it
          2. Paying team members (if you have them) and their salaries and health insurance, etc.
          3. Paying photographers (images aren’t free, and neither is content creation)
          4. Paying yourself (because your time and work is worth money)

          Yes, I don’t have to run a blog as a means of income. I could go out and get a different job. But you could say that of ANY person’s job: you don’t have to do that thing to make money, go do something else. But I would never dream of coming to your job and telling you that you don’t have to be paid for what you do.

          Also, in what way have I “forced you” into the role of consumer? A consumer is someone who pays to receive services or goods. Unless I’ve missed a whole lot of subscription checks in the mail, I’m pretty sure that no one reading this site has ever been forced into becoming a consumer- because we have literally never asked anyone to pay to read.


  • I totally support your need to run ads, and I’m as willing to click on a sponsored post as I am a non-sponsored post (i.e. if I’m interested in the topic, I will click). As it happens, I am trying to find a dining room rug and an oriental rug would be perfect. I appreciate that the heavy patterns will hide the inevitable stains and the wool is easily cleaned in comparison to other rug fabrics. I was also super pleased that you’re highlighting a local (to me), minority owned business rather than some large national chain. I didn’t know about this shop, but plan to visit in person.

    • Also, I’ve noticed the uptick in ads since joining the Domino Collective. All of the popup ads, ads where videos start playing, all the new banner ads make the site a less pleasant experience (for me). Ads block the screen when reading on my phone, the video and popup ads slow down the site, and I do think I spend less time on Design*Sponge now as a result. These type of ad posts are actually a much more pleasant way to experience advertising.

      • We’re no longer part of the Domino Collective and will be removing that designation from the site soon.

        As for the other ads your describing, they shouldn’t be appearing and I spend a lot of time tracking them down to block them.

        Those ads and advertisers (as with so many things on the internet) develop and use unscrupulous methods to skip through the ad networks’ that serve ads on our site and our rules . It’s a constant battle and one that continually hurt small businesses like ours.

        Now I’ll get back to tracking those ads down.


        • Oh that’s very interesting about all the popup ads. I just noticed the popups are a big issue on my work computer (a PC), but not on my home computer (a Mac). Do you know if there’s something that can be done on the reader’s end to stop them? I want to get back to enjoying Design*Sponge in peace!

    • Hi Alyce

      I so appreciate your note, your sentiment and you taking the time to share it with us. (Rough day.)

      Main Street is definitely worth a visit, both online and in person. Working with them is a pleasure and the owner’s (& his team’s) knowledge, expertise and small business service is very worthy of support.

      My Best,

  • I’m so grateful for all the amazing inspo that Grace, Caitlin + the design*sponge team create on the daily. I’m also grateful that they’re very selective about which advertising they’ll accept, which is an especially brave choice in a climate that is enormously challenging for indie publishers. And in this particular instance, I’m thrilled to learn about Main Street as I’m currently on the hunt for some new rugs + am excited to be presented with the opportunity to spend my dollars with a business that is supporting one of the absolute best design resources online. I love d*s, and all you do + it means the world to me that you do it with so much integrity.

  • Just a quick follow up to say that I truly support this blog, and I think the content is generally pretty great. It was not my intent to say that there shouldn’t be advertising or that you should not be able to make a decent living. I was admittedly a bit put off by the tone of your reply to your readers (your biggest fans!) and I think I may have come off as more critical than I intended. I certainly want this to be sustainable and successful and for you to have all the things. I will keep reading, including the sponsored posts. I certainly appreciate when such posts are marked as sponsored up front, so thank you for that.

  • I love this! With so many sites being cluttered with ads and completely ruining the experience, I feel like writing articles that are relevant to the readers experience here on Design*Sponge is great. I will not name names, but a certain all-things-home blog now has an ad practically every other image you see and it turns me off. I SO appreciate the content your team puts out and will happily click on the sponsored posts — I love learning about new companies, especially ones that support your endeavors. xo

  • As a long time reader, I just want to shout out my support to you Grace and your team. I feel bad that readers feel the need to not only criticize one of the ways you get paid, but also to keep coming back to prove their point. I don’t understand why anyone would want to put energy into pointing out how they wished you had written or titled a post. There is a LOT of value in just letting something go! If my favorite blogger writes a post I don’t care for, I move on!

    You and your team work hard, are thoughtful about what you do, are transparent about the realities of blogging and don’t deserve to be criticized about a post anyone could easily scroll past if they don’t like it!!!

    Why do people feel the need to be so pointedly critical?

    Would you say such things to Grace’s face if you met in person? My guess is no. Just because a screen gives you a layer of removal doesn’t mean the impact of the comment hurts any less.

    Do I love every post? No. Do I love and appreciate all that you put into this blog? Hell yes! Keep on, keeping on…

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