What the Motifs on Your Favorite Vintage Rugs Mean

What the Motifs on Your Favorite Vintage Rugs Mean

Posted by Kolina Cicero on

One of our favorite things about sourcing vintage rugs is seeing new motifs woven into the designs. From ram horns to dragons, peonies to birds, many vintage rugs have some sort of symbol on them.

So what do they all mean? Here are some of the most popular motifs we see in the rugs we source, plus their meanings:

Peony: Our favorite flower represents wealth. In the image below, the peony is the smaller flower on top with eight petals. This is a typical rendering of a peony. The larger flower is a lotus, another common motif which represents rebirth and immortality. 

Designer's 585 | 12' x 9'1

Boteh - This flame-like motif is a representation of the universe, or a burning flame. Other interpretations of this motif say it is a floral spray signifying eternity.

Designer's 1-126 | 8'6 x 4'5

Leaf - A stem with three or five leaves is said to indicate endless regeneration, just like a perennial plant that blooms every spring.

Tree of Life - The tree of life is very common in vintage rugs, and it's said to represent eternal life, or a direct path from Earth to heaven. 

The rug above also has birds along the trim, which symbolize good luck. (Note: owls and ravens are said to mean bad luck, but pigeons and doves are good luck).

The rug above is a simpler interpretation of a tree of life (the Y with a diamond floating on top of it).

Ram's Horns - The ram's horn, seen along the border that looks like a C, represents strength and bravery. And, depending on who you ask, could also mean male fertility. 

There are dozens of other common motifs, but these are some of the ones we see most often. It is important to note that these are our interpretations of what the motifs in these rugs are. It's entirely possible we are putting our own biased spin on what we see, but isn't that part of the beauty of handmade rugs?

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