Decoding the Hidden Meaning in Your Oriental Rug

Oriental Rug

You may think that gorgeous Oriental rug on your living room floor is just a beautiful piece of home décor – but you’d be wrong.  For centuries, Persian and Oriental rugs have been made with not only artistry and luxury in mind, but also specific messages. But only the people who know the code can understand the hidden meaning in these works of traditional art.

Of course, one problem with cracking the code is that each tribe or people who traditionally wove these Oriental rugs had their own system of colors, patterns, and weaving techniques, each of which had a different significance to each individual group. But there are some things that generally hold true across the board.


One of the things that most Oriental rugs have in common is the significance of animals. Nowadays it’s more common to see Persian rugs with floral designs, or maybe geometric ones, but rugs with birds or other animals as a part of the design do still exist. The animals woven into these patterns each have a special symbolic meaning, which only those who know the code can understand.

Deer traditionally symbolize well-being, while a stag means a wish for long life. Camels stand for wealth, and butterflies mean happiness. A phoenix is the animal of an empress, while a dragon represents an emperor. Fish symbolize abundance and prosperity, and peacocks mean divine protection. Doves stand for peace, and cranes for longevity. Elephants mean power, and lions mean victory. Horses symbolize speed, while crabs stand for knowledge. And although we haven’t seen any rugs with spiders on them lately, tarantulas are supposed to prevent bad luck.


Since today’s Oriental rugs are much more likely to feature flowers and plant designs, rather than animals, you may be more likely to find a hidden message in your rug in this family of symbols.

The chrysanthemum stands for a long life, while an iris means liberty. The lily and the lotus both symbolize purity, and the carnation, wisdom. Peonies represent wealth and rank, while bamboo stands for wealth and honor. The Cyprus tree symbolizes immortality, and weeping willows stand for meditation.


If your rug doesn’t have any of the plants or animals listed above, don’t worry – the color of your rug alone has a deeper significance, as well. Red stands for happiness and joy, while orange means devotion and piety. Yellow means power and glory, and green represents paradise. Blue symbolizes both solitude and truth, while white can stand for purity, peace, or grief.

Oriental rugs were woven with these messages in order to mark important family events, such as a birth or a death. They were also made as wedding gifts, woven with wishes for a happy future. Rugs for important personages would of course have included animals appropriate to their rank or accomplishments, and rugs for anyone’s house would have included messages of hope and good luck for its inhabitants.

So what do your Oriental rugs tell you? Can you read their secret code? We’d love to hear from you! Please share your rugs’ symbols with us in the comments section below!