History of Oriental Rugs: first we should begin with the word Oriental. As the western European world looked East to the Orient, they saw some of the most elaboate designs in carpets of many sizes coming West on famous trade routes. Rugs from China traveled the Orient Express West. What most Westerners call Oriental rugs today are actually from Persia or modern day Iran, also Oriental rugs are considered to come from Asia, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet and Nepal. Characteristic of a Persian Oriental rug is the unique knot, dense pile, high or lower knot count, rich colors, either tribal geometric or floral, garden designs are woven into Oriental rug designs.
Oriental rugs are generally named after the village or region where the rug was produced, or the nomadic tribe who brings their rugs to market. Some names of famous Oriental Persian rugs are: Sultanabad, Bidjar, Hamadan, Tabriz, Kashan, Serapi, Heriz, Herot, Kirman, Oushak (Turkish) Kazak, Souzani, Saraouk, Afshar, Mahal (Pakistan), Agra (India), Hatchlu (Afghanistan), for example, the Baluchi nomadic tribal rugs come from a vast region in southern Persia, to Turkmenistan, to Afghanistan and are named after the tribe Baluchi.
The art of carpet weaving began in ancient Persia and China. The oldest excavated surviving rug comes from Siberia dating to 500 years before the birth of Christ. It is called Altai Rug and was found in the grave of a Scythian warrior prince. The Altai Rug is also known as the Pazyryk Rug named after the Valley in which it was discovered. Some of the earliest evidence of rug weaving and rug knotting comes from Mongolia and believed that the art of weaving traveled next into China and then into Tibet.
Historically most Oriental Persian or Chinese rugs were woven for the royal families. The earliest royal to own Oriental rugs was Cyrus the Great of Pasargade who decked his palace with Oriental rugs over 2,500 years ago. Who wove rugs for the royal families? Some were woven in monasteries by monks in fact the word Bokhara (a famous rug design) in Farsi means monastery.