Oriental Rugs — Suggested Reading


                                       Rug Blogs

Rug Chick Blog by Lisa Wagner

The site is clear, well organized and includes lots of helpful essentials for rug care, cleaning, and protection. She has a rug cleaning business in San Diego, CA. (It’s probably from ingesting too much H.L. Mencken as a child but I find some parts of the blog annoyingly saccharine.)

Tea and Carpets

Tea and Carpets is a sophisticated exploration of the marvels of oriental carpets. Unfortunately, the last post is from 2013 so it appears dormant for the present.

Nazmiyal Collection

This is the website for a high end New York rug gallery, and if price is no concern then you may find the perfect carpet. Aside from the refined layout, the site offers superb historical information and descriptions covering a whole gamut of handmade rugs.

Emmett Eiland

As well as a Bay Area rug dealer, Emmett Eiland is a preeminent rug historian with numerous articles and books to his credit. Unfortunately, the website no longer functions as a blog — just a sales site — but the archives contain excellent articles from a decade back such as this one on natural versus synthetic dyes. The article is actually an excerpt from his book, Oriental Rugs Today, which is recommended below.

Barry O’Connell

Barry O’Connell, an expert on handmade rugs, runs at least two interlocking websites. There is a cornucopia of valuable and fascinating information but the sites are organized akin to the Library of Babel in Borges’s short story. While the layout and navigation are chaotic, you can always close the browser when you reach an empty room.

In his introductory video, O’Connell suggests you use google to navigate his sites. (For a must have collection of fiction by Borges, including the Library of Babel, Labyrinths is superb.) You can also find assorted short video clips of Mr. O’Connell on YouTube discussing textile identification and history.


The site describes itself as: “a noncommercial site devoted to collectible weavings, where rug enthusiasts can connect.” Although the site is clunky (lots of broken links) and painfully bland, it contains an excellent range of interesting articles and discussions.

Through the Collector’s Eye

Not sure who runs ‘Through the Collector’s Eye’ or even if it is currently being updated. However, it has some interesting information and tips, primarily suitable for an introduction to oriental rugs and kilims.

Marla Mallett: Textiles and Tribal Oriental Rugs

The site focuses primarily on flat-weaves and global textiles, and not so much on traditional pile rugs. She is a highly regarded expert and the breadth of knowledge regarding weaving intricacies and techniques is remarkable.



Panga & Sheila Relaxing on Heriz

Panga & Sheila relaxing on an old Heriz



                           Books on Oriental Rugs


Oriental Rugs Today 
by Emmett Eiland

Interest in Oriental rugs has undergone a renaissance in recent years.  New sources have emerged, the use of handspun wool and vegetal dyes has been revived, and new Oriental rug designs are available.  All these changes can make choosing a Oriental rug confusing and intimidating.  This book explains the differences between carpets types and maps out the recent developments in this ancient craft. 
Emmett Eiland with his brother opened the Oriental Rug Company in Berkeley, Calif. in 1969, and has led seminars and organized Oriental rug exhibits for years.  He discusses changes in the Oriental rug industry over the past couple of decades, such as the return to natural dyes and handspun wool, new technology, and the embargo on Persian carpets from Iran.  He explains which of the new Oriental rugs will hold their values, how to distinguish vegetal from synthetic dyes and handspun from machine-spun wool, the various finishes and which ones to avoid, suggested retail prices per square foot, and production in a number of countries.  Color photographs illustrate rugs and details.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 199) and index.

Oriental Carpet Design: A Guide to Traditional Motifs, Patterns and Symbols
 by P. R. J. Ford

This book is indeed an excellent source of information for those who are interested in this fascinating subject and enjoy collecting Oriental rugs, particularly Persian rugs. It is extremely well illustrated with some very informative tips on each region, and what to look for when buying Oriental rugs.  Highly recommend for those who are interested in traditional Oriental rug designs.

Oriental Carpets: A Complete Guide 
by Murray L. Eiland
 Jr. & Murray Eiland III

This comprehensive volume by the most regarded names in the field reviews the history of the art of Oriental rug weaving and explains basic carpet making materials, tools, and techniques.  The line illustrations portray the various kinds of knotting techniques used in Oriental rugs and the basic design motifs that are found in high-quality Oriental carpets. Detailed captions for the 330 new color illustrations offer an invaluable body of technical information. (Be sure to obtain the expanded 1998 volume.)

Tribal Rugs: Treasures of the Black Tent  by Brian W. McDonald

Fairly recent major book focusing on tribal and nomadic weaving and textiles.

Moroccan Carpets by  Brooke Pickering and Ralph Yohe  1998

For anyone with an interest in the rug weaving traditions of Morocco, this is undoubtedly your best resource.

Tribal Rugs 
by Jenny Housego

Regarded as the most authoritative work on tribal Oriental rugs, this book while showing readers superb examples of tribal rugs, paints a fascinating picture of tribal life and the way in which they weave rugs.  Housego also describes the rich elements in the design or Oriental rugs as well as giving technical notes on the weaving or rugs. Includes bibliographical references (p. 21) and index.

Tribal Rugs: A Complete Guide to Nomadic and Village Carpets 
by James Opie

James Opie covers the rugs and woven textiles of the nomadic and village-dwelling peoples of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, and describes the ancient roots of tribal rug weaving and the significance of their common Oriental rug patterns and traditions.  In his discussion of the origins of tribal rug weaving, he follows the history of ancient and traditional designs to the present, and provides illustrations with diagrams that enable the reader to identify the relationships between the patterns and their makers.

Oriental Carpets: From the Tents, Cottages, and Workshops of Asia
 by Jon Thompson

(An earlier edition was published in 1983 as Carpet Magic.)
 Numerous photos of Oriental rug weavers at work and also showing how these people live. Many gorgeous color photos of rugs!  Mr. Thompson writes in a clear, wry, direct fashion that’s a joy to read – a refreshing contrast to the garbled, turgid and purple prose you may encounter in other rug and art books.  If you have any interest in Oriental rugs, you need this book. Especially recommended for anyone starting out in their rug education.

Antique Kilims of Anatolia by Peter Davies

Beautiful book covering the extraordinary genius of Anatolian kilims. An earlier version of this book was published as The Tribal Eye: Antique Kilims of Anatolia.

Kilim, The Complete Guide by Alastair Hull & Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska

Large comprehensive volume covering kilims and flat-weaves.

Tribal and Village Rugs   by  Peter F. Stone

Using computer imagery to systematize the study of motifs, designs and patterns through well over 1,600 stunningly beautiful and functional full-colour images, it is an indispensable source for design ideas and the perfect guide to a new appreciation of these textiles’ extraordinary beauty.

The Oriental Rug: An Illustrated Lexicon of Motifs, Materials, and Origins by Peter Stone

This monumental reference work long awaited by collectors and scholars fills an important gap in the available literature on oriental rugs. Lavishly illustrated with over 1000 photographs and drawings, it offers clear and precise definitions for the rug and textile terms in use across a broad swath of the globe from Morocco to Turkey, Persia, the Caucasus region, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China.

Oriental Rugs: The Illustrated World Buyer’s Guide by Janice Summers

An Introduction to Kurdish Rugs by William Eagleton  1988

The most important volume that specifically addresses the weaving traditions of Kurdish tribal people.

Oriental Rugs: An Introduction   Gordon Redford Walker  2013

This guide offers valuable practical guidance on the different types of rug for everyday furnishing purposes and the pitfalls that await the unwary buying at auctions, clearly presented photographic examples of the rugs, a color-coded chart to help with décor schemes, and a price guide.

Oriental Rugs: The Collector’s Guide to Selecting, Identifying, and Enjoying New and Antique Oriental Rugs 
by George W. O’Bannon

Despite the painfully long title, this is a great introduction that belongs in every rug enthusiast’s library. A history of carpet making offers practical advice on assessing and buying carpets, provides a complete manufacturer’s list, and is peppered with lavish photographs of rugs from Turkey, Central Asia, China, and Tibet.

A history of rug and carpet making offers practical advice on assessing and buying Oriental rugs and carpets.  This book provides a complete rug manufacturer’s list, and is peppered with lavish photographs of Oriental rugs from Turkey, Central Asia, Iran, China, and Tibet.

Early Caucasian Rugs
 by Charles Grant Ellis

This book is a catalog of an exhibition held the the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1975. The book was reissued in a newer paperback edition in 1990. The first part discusses the design and construction of early Caucasian carpets. This is followed by illustrations and annotations of the 37 rugs that were on display. These items are of a very high quality and the author Charles Grant Ellis was a distinguished carpet scholar and writer. The 16 full page color illustrations are very good considering the age of this publication. The balance of the photographs are in monotone; while giving an impression of the patterns of the rugs they are distinctly inferior by not being in color.

Check Points on How to Buy Oriental Rugs
 by Charles Jacobsen

First published in 1969.  This Oriental rug book is intended primarily for buyers of oriental rugs, not only people about to make a first purchase of an Oriental rug, but also seasoned rug collectors and purchasing agents for large stores.  It will, in addition, enable anyone to evaluate Oriental rugs already owned. 60 B&W and color ill., 208pp, (hardcover).

Yoruk: The Nomadic Weaving Tradition of the Middle East
 by Anthony N. Landreau

The collection of textiles and Oriental rugs on which this catalog is based was exhibited at Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 6-May 28, 1978, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, June 22-August 22,1978, and Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, September 12-November 5, 1978. B&W & color ill., maps, 144pp, (softcover).

From the Bosporus to Samarkand, Flat-woven Rugs
 by Anthony N. Landreau & W. R. Pickering

The Textile Museum, Washington, DC, (1980)
First published in 1969. The collection of flat-woven Oriental rugs on which this catalog is based was exhibited at the Textile Museum May 25-September 27, 1969. B&W and color illustrations, 112pp, (softcover).

Turkoman Tribal Rugs
 by Werner Loges

The book was translated by Raoul Tschebull. 
London, (1980), 40 B&W & 117 color ill., map, 204pp. Unfortunately, copies are difficult to come by and this is another classic desperately in need of a publisher to release another printing. In this book on the rug, carpets and traditional pile weavings of the nomadic Turkoman tribes of Central Asia, the author, who is one of the world’s best-known specialists, presents outstanding and hitherto unpublished pieces from 23 major European collections of Oriental rugs.

Rugs and Carpets from Central Asia: the Russian Collections by Elena Tsareva

Turkmen Carpets: Masterpieces of Steppe Art, from 16th to 19th Centuries — The Hoffmeister Collection by Elena Tsareva

Anyone fascinated by Turkoman tribal rugs will find these volumes by Elena Tsareva splendid additions to their library.

Temple, Household, Horseback: Rugs of the Tibetan Plateau
 by Diana K. Myers

The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., (1984), 
A fine collection of representative Tibetan rugs organized and sponsored by The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. B&W ill., map, 111pp, (softcover).

The Book of Rugs: Oriental and European
 by Ignaz Schlosser

An older book that was originally published in 1963. A pictorial guide to Oriental rug history, techniques of manufacture of Oriental rugs, and Oriental rug designs. 193 B&W, 16 color ill., HB.

Oriental Rugs: Turkish by K. Zipper and C. Fritzsche

A reprint of this volume, fourth in the Oriental Rugs series, serves as an introduction to the range of carpets and rugs from Turkey. The history of the region and the art of carpet weaving and knotting are explained and the various types and styles of rug produced are traced by means of the traditions and differing techniques found throughout the Anatolian peninsula. Turkey lies in a geographical position of some importance, separating as it does the Eastern and Westem cultures. Despite the proximity of the Persian influence, Turkish rug makers largely retained their own traditional motifs. The main text leads into a full colour pictorial catalogue illustrating rugs from the numerous towns and villages throughout Anatolia. Comprehensive and detailed captions describe some 225 examples, ranging from antique and very rare museum exhibits right through to good quality modem pieces which are readily available today. This comprehensive book provides definitive coverage of the rugs and carpets of Turkey. It should be a useful volume for lovers of fine carpets and should appeal to the expert as well as the inexperienced beginner.

Central-Asian Rugs
 by Ulrich Schurmann

A detailed presentation of the art of Oriental rug weaving in Central-Asia in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century.  With a historical review of rug weaving by Hans Konig. 100 color plates, 176pp, 1969 HB.

The Oriental Rug Collection of Jerome and Mary Jane Straka

Edited by Louise W. Mackie, 1978. This collection of Oriental rugs was exhibited at The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., beginning with the Seventh Annual Rug Convention, November 3-5, 1978, and continuing to mid-February, 1979. B&W and color ill., 136pp, (softcover).