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Oriental Rugs
Buying Guide

oriental rugs
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oriental rugs
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Oriental rugs
designs and 
their meanings

Oriental  Rugs
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Oriental  Rugs

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Bijan's Oriental Rug Gallery

Bijan’s Oriental Rugs
Hand-made Oriental Rugs, selected with care and sold with Integrity.

Oriental Rugs - A buyer’s Guide

  • Yin/Yang Wheel
    The symbol of creation and life, representing the Yin (female) and Yang (male) acpects of the life force. It is sometimes enclosed in an octagonal from which contains the “eight tetragrams” (pa kua) representing heaven, wind, earth , fire, water, mountain, thunder and cloud.
  • Ju-i-sceptre
    Used by the highest deity in heaven, its head is formed into the shape of cloud. It is often represented in rugs as a cloud with a short tail, and is generally accepted as symbolizing a wish, or the hope that a wish be fulfilled.
  • Vase (P’ing)
    Symbol of peace.
  • Table (an)
    Signifies tranquillity
  • The eight Taoist symbols
    These embody the attributes of the eight immortal spirit (pa hsien), who are perceived in human form through their associated objects.  It is, of course, impossible to explore these symbols in any depth, but the following meanings are those most commonly ascribed.  They may be found either collectively or individually in rugs designs.
    1) Swords: supernatural power
    2) Staff and Gourd: transmutation and concocting of medicines
    3) Lotus pod: the seat of aal power and life
    4) Flute: performing magic
    5) Bamboo:  telling fortunes and predicting the future
    6) Fan: reviving the souls of departed
    7) Castanets: Exerting a soothing influence
    8) Basket of flowers: Supernatural power through blossoms
  • The eight Buddhist symbols
    Relate to spiritual qualities and mysteries that the believer should try to develop and understand.  The meanings attributed to each are fairly straightforward in comparison with the subtleties in Taoist symbolism.  They may be found together or in isolation.
    1) Canopy:  protection
    2) Lotus: purity
    3) Umbrella:  dignity and esteem
    4) Vase containing heavenly elixir: enduring peace
    5) Conch shell: calling to prayer
    6) Fishes:  abundance
    7) Wheel: the majesty of the law
    8) Endless knot:  destiny
  • The eight precious things
    Taken from the “one hundred symbols” of the Book of Rites, they may be found together or in isolation.
    1) Pear:  purity and perfection
    2) Coin: wealth
    3) Books: the value of learning
    4) Empty rhombus: victory and prosperity
    5) Full rhombus:  the wealth in art
    6) Musical stone: blessing
    7) Rhinoceros-horn cups:  resistance (to poison)
    8) Artemisia leaf:  dignity
  • The four gentlemanly accomplishments
    Qualities deemed necessary for a man of nobility and learning. These are usually found together.
    1) Lute:  music
    2) Chessboard:  Chess
    3) Scrolls: painting and drawing
    4) Books: poetry
  • Animal, birds and plant symbols
    Arguably the most popular in contemporary carpets, with the possible exceptions of the Shou.
    1) Dragon:  power, mercy and authority over the elements. It also symbolized the Emperor.
    2) Phoenix: the female aspect of the dragon, symbolizing the Empress, which governs peace and happiness.
    3) Fo-dogs (or lion dogs):  guardians of Buddha and Buddhist temples.
    4) Unicorn: wisdom.  It appears when sages are born.
    5) Stags: well being and official emolument
    6) Storks, geese and crane: longevity
    7) Ducks: fidelity
    8) Tortoises: longevity
    9) Bats:  happiness and good luck
    10)  Butterflies: Luck and a happy marriage
    11)  Horses: symbolic of the horse that carried Buddhist teaching from India to China, particularly if white
    12)  Peony:  nobility, wealth, love and affection
    13)  Pomegranate:  fertility
    14)  Peach blossom: longevity and spring
    15)  Lotus: purity and summer, in addition to its more specific Buddhist and Taoist meanings
    16)  Chrysanthemum:  long life and autumn
    17)  Daffodil: good luck and winter
  • Chinese medallions
    Unlike those employed in Persian and Anatolian rugs, these may have specific meanings, depending on their inner patterning. For example, a medallion composed from a Shou character for longevity does not have the same symbolic intent as one base on the peony, which indicates nobility, wealth and love; the meaning of the inner pattern, rather than the medallion itself should always be read.
  • A mixture of symbols
    Used to modify the meaning of one symbol by juxtapostion with another. A coomon example is 5 bats surrounding the Shou character; this represents the “five happiness” (well being, good office, tranquillity, virtue and a peaceful end). Similarly, a vase (peace) on a table (tranquillity), combined with a ji’i scepter (wish) may be translated as “ may you find peace and transquillity according to your wishes”.

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