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The Difference Between Moroccan, Persian and Oriental Rugs

Many people talk about Oriental, Moroccan and Persian rugs as if they were interchangeable. There are, however, some subtle — yet important — differences between these three types of traditional rugs. If you’re in the market for a big, beautiful rug for your home, take a look at the details that set Moroccan, Persian and Oriental rugs apart.

What Is a Moroccan Rug?

One of the main differences between rugs is their country of origin, so it stands to reason that Moroccan rugs are woven in, well, Morocco! Granted, rugs from one part of Morocco may differ slightly from rugs you’ll find in another part of the country. For example, rugs from the cold mountains of Morocco may be thicker than those from desert climates in the same nation.

In general, though, the designs are similar, as they frequently include patterns with geometric shapes that repeat across the whole rug. Colors can range from neutral to eye-catching. As you shop for this type of rug, keep in mind that Moroccans have historically used these rugs for practical purposes, such as mats to sleep on and coverings to put on their beds — and not merely as decorative area rugs. Moroccan rugs, then, tend to be simple and therefore perfect for minimalist, modern décor. If you want a more ornate, elegant rug, you might need to shop for Persian or Oriental rugs instead.

What Is a Persian Rug?

As you can probably guess, Persian rugs come from the area that was once referred to as the Persian Empire. While most Persian rugs come from Iran, some are also made in Pakistan – but aside from the country of origin, you can identify Persian rugs by the design details they typically have in common.

These include an outer border around the rug, complemented by a slightly thicker inner border, and then a thinner border within that. The center of the rug usually has an elegant medallion that’s surrounded by small, intricate patterns. In general, Persian rugs are adorned with rich, warm colors that often include red and gold, though blue and other hues may also appear. They’re also generally ideal for sophisticated and traditional home styles.

What Is an Oriental Rug?

Oriental rugs may come from a variety of countries, including China, Tibet, India, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. This means that Persian rugs are a type of Oriental rug, but not all Oriental rugs are Persian. It should come as no surprise, then, that Oriental rugs can vary quite a bit when it comes to their designs and materials.

For instance, Oriental rugs from China are often made of silk, and they might feature patterns with elements of nature, such as trees, mountains, lakes and flora and fauna. Regardless of which country the typical Oriental rug comes from, it tends to feature cool colors, such as yellow, blue and pink. Like Persian rugs, Oriental rugs have an elegant look, so they often appeal to people looking for classic pieces that fit their traditional home style.

The Best Persian Rugs

Authentic Persian rugs are handmade and aren't for budget-seekers (expenses start to climb when it comes to certain authentic types). With that said, if a made-to-order style just doesn't fall within your price range, more affordable options are available – and look just as good. Choosing a Persian rug within this category, you'll want to make sure:

  • The design/artwork/pattern is unique. Even manufactured varieties of rugs are made in small, limited batches, and finding a design that's one-of-a-kind can deliver you more for your dollar.
  • The material is higher-end. It may surprise you to learn that there are affordable Persian rugs made with materials like wool, cotton and silk. Natural (non-synthetic) materials set the bar high for luxury, so if you want the best for style and quality, you'll want to consider material.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.