Antique Spotlight – Indigo Malayer Carpet

Of numerous villages located in the Hamadan province, the city of Malayer is amongst the most notable. As can be found throughout the rest of the Hamadan region, Malayer is known for its fine carpets. This week’s Antique Spotlight features one of the finest examples from the Malayer tribe thanks to the Orley Shabahang Antique Collection. Continue reading to learn about this carpet’s symbolism and what makes it exceptionally fine.

Antique Malayer Carpet Overall Photo

When comparing most village rugs to Malayer pieces, Malayer rugs tend to have more decorative patterns and designs within the field. Also, Malayer carpets have a primary indigo tone and secondary tones of green, watermelon, light blue, salmon, gold, and tan. Additionally, they tend to have at least one of the following elements: cypris trees, boteh (paisley), Herati, and (or) stand-alone flower motifs. With this information, our antique example is undeniably a Malayer carpet.

Antique Malayer Carpet upper corner photo

Though this carpet is antique, woven circa 1900, its hand-spun wool foundation allows this piece to remain functional for everyday use. The woolen pile is hand-knotted into the cotton warp and weft, featuring natural hues of indigo, gold, blue, orange, pink, and neutral tans. The shade of the pile has remained melodic over time, resulting in a sophisticated color palette. What makes this piece exceptional is the fineness of the weave. This weave allowed weavers to incorporate phoenix motifs, alternating in direction, amongst numerous geometric vases with blooming flowers.

Antique Malayer Carpet detail photo 2

Like the lily flower and the dragon motif, cultures share similar themes and origin stories for textile designs.  The repetitive bird motif found throughout the field represents the Fenix, symbolizing happiness and love. These motifs, detailed in brown, blue, pink, tan, and orange wool, contrast flawlessly with the rich indigo background. With the overall design depicting a Persian flower garden, the exterior border acts as the outer walkway. The exterior is detailed with a more neutral color palette and consists of subdued blue, orange, and pink wool. Additional phoenix, caterpillar, and flower designs intertwine around the field and symbolize a classic tale: the circle of life. Each creature depends on one another to survive.

Antique Malayer Carpet backside photo

Adding this poetic message adds to the elegance and character of the piece.  As this carpet measures 4’5″ x 6’6″, this rug would be an ideal fit for a bedroom, living room, entryway, or wherever a small area rug is needed. If this antique Malayer impresses, and you would like to see additional options, check out our Antique Collection via our website, or take a gander at our digital showroom via