In her valuable book “The Carpets of Iran,” Cecil Edwards acknowledges that the designs and motifs used in Iranian carpets represent a theory or a way of life. The goal of Iranian designers is to create pleasure through symmetry and beauty. They have been inspired by real life (nature) or have used external sources to create their designs. In each of these two cases, one must be cautious in relating these shapes and motifs to Sufi and mystical thoughts. Perhaps these shapes are simplified forms of animals, plants, and birds that have evolved over time. What is certain is that the carpet weaver, when sitting behind the loom, is more inspired by what she sees than what she thinks. Some experts in this field categorize carpet designs into two groups: designs inspired by nature and designs that were primarily created by artistic creativity, meaning that humans were the main factor in their creation. These designs can be further divided into famous designs inspired by historical buildings, designs created by nomadic tribes, designs named after famous cities, and hybrid designs. Then all the designs mentioned in the past are categorized under each of the two groups. However, regardless of the categorization method, they have often been influenced by the same main groups mentioned earlier, and each has tried to present the old classification in a new way. For this reason, there is no significant difference observed in the naming of the main designs and subgroups. Without a doubt, tracing the roots of carpet designs and examining the reasons for their creation, expansion, and even changes in both their overall form and intricate details, including patterns and motifs, is the best way to classify and name all carpet designs in Iran. Generally, until the 1980s and possibly even the 1970s, there was little interest in investigating the origins of carpet designs, and most studies conducted only covered the Islamic period of Iranian history. Many also believe that the origins of all designs must be traced back to the Islamic period, and introduce the term “Islamic art.”
It is only in the past twenty years that some carpet experts have reached different conclusions through their studies. Dr. Cyrus Parham has criticized the Western experts’ approach in analyzing carpet designs in an article. The fundamental cause of this failure is the lack of awareness among most Western carpet experts about Iranian civilization and culture, from which carpet motifs, like other arts, have emerged over the centuries. Western carpet experts, due to their belief in the superiority of Western civilization, have had a wrong understanding of the Eastern carpet symbols. Instead of exploring the ancient civilization of the East, they began to search in the depths of Western thought and ideas. As a result, they have distanced themselves from the mystical, symbolic, and mythological ideas of the East.
Nowadays, Eastern carpet experts consider it their duty to unveil the secrets of these ancient Eastern carpet patterns, particularly Iranian carpets, and to raise awareness among the younger generation about this ancient art.