Hand Knotted Rugs – Persian & Turkish Knots Explained


One of the first things to be aware of is the difference between a hand knotted rug and a hand tufted rug. Hand knotted rugs take skill and time to create. Both are hand-made. However, the complexity of the production is very different. Hand knotted rugs are made with individual, hand knotted threads. Hand tufted rugs are created by punching threads into a canvas stretched across a frame, similar to a painting. Although punched by hand, a tool is used and the skill required is somewhat average. Because this process is far less time consuming than hand knotting, the price is notably less. Hand knotted rugs are superior in quality and there are two types of knots most commonly used – Persian and Turkish. Here are some of the more important differences, explaining the characteristics of each.

The Basics – One, Two and…

The big difference and the one to remember most, one knot’s single and asymmetrical (irregular). The other a double knot and symmetrical (regular). The Persian knot is also known as the Senneh knot. The Turkish knot, also referred to as a Ghiordes (Gordes) knot, is a symmetrical, double knot.

Which Knot Makes the Best Rugs?

Persia has always been regarded as the most authentic and best producer of rugs in the world. Even so, both Persian and Turkish hand knotted rugs have a long history.

When it Can Get Confusing…

The Persian knot is used to make Turkish rugs, although not common. However, the Turkish knot is commonly used in the North and North West areas of Iran as well as by some nomadic tribes (usually with Turkish origins), to produce rugs – Rugs which are also referred to as Persian rugs.  This can be confusing when you are being sold a “Persian rug” which has clearly been produced using a Turkish knot! In this instance, the reference is more about where it was made than how it was made. The reason Turkish knots are used most commonly in Northern areas is because this part of Iran has been home for ethnic Turks for almost a millennium – It all makes sense really!

Design Matters

The Persian knot is small because it is a single knot. Small knots allow the development of more complex curves and finer lines within the design. Because of this, traditional Persian designs include more elaborate motifs and design elements. Turkish rugs tend to have sharper, geometric designs with straight lines, which can make them seem more modern in design. However, some Turkish rugs do include many symbolic motifs, which can make them much more visually complex.  Bottom line? The knot used tends to dictate the design – The Persian single knot being far more apt for curvy and usually complex designs.

To really see the difference between a Turkish knot and a Persian knot look at the design. You will find more hand knotted rugs here than probably necessary, to do just that!

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