A Brief History – Persian Mihrab

For generations, Persian tribes have borrowed elements from each other to create today’s authentic Persian carpets. These elements can include motifs, patterns, pile length, and knotting style. Specifically, we wanted to explore the Persian mihrab design and how to identify it in varying carpets. 

Otherwise known as a prayer niche, a mihrab refers to the mosque’s decorative focal point. The mihrab faces Mecca and is usually adorned with exquisite tiling while also incorporating traditional Persian designs. The peaceful intertwining motifs and patterns in these mihrabs have inspired Persian textiles for centuries, and examples are still alive today.

Take these Tabriz and Balochi carpets, for example. In Tabriz carpets, artisans create mihrab designs by using motifs and their negative space to create the shape. In our example, this incredibly decorative antique Tabriz carpet includes multiple flowers, butterflies, pottery, and vine motifs that interconnect throughout. The mihrab becomes visible when the lighter-colored motifs and designs contrast with the dark indigo background.

Differing from the Tabriz carpet, our Baluchi example showcases the mihrab design as part of the overall pattern. With a dual medallion residing in its field, the warm cream, green, and red wool contrast beautifully with the dark indigo background. The mihrab is the structural motif at the top of the carpet. Less dramatic than the Tabriz example, Balouchi carpets still utilize the familiar shaped mihrab design.  

Whether your family owns an heirloom Tabriz carpet or a brand-new Balochi, there is always something new to discover about your handmade rug. Check out orleyshabahang.com or https://www.1stdibs.com/dealers/orley-shabahang/shop/furniture/ to see more incredible pieces!