Colorful Turkish Kilim rug with large geometric central medallion

The Symbolism Behind Turkish Rugs

Turkish Rug Symbolism

Not Just a Pretty Face

Did you know every single Turkish rug has hidden meaning? 

The shapes and designs you see aren’t random. They all tell a totally unique story. Borders, motifs, and medallions. 

Turkish rug symbolism was actually one of the main reasons we fell in love with these pieces! 

How cool that you can choose a vintage rug for your home based on its meaning? And in turn, purchase something that relates personally to your life - whether that’s past, present or future. 

Our Goals When We Started High Pile Designs

We had a few goals when starting High Pile Designs:

  • We wanted to bring unique Turkish rugs and throw pillows back to you
  • We wanted to educate you about Turkish rugs and pillows throughout the process We want you to become amateur rug readers just like us. 😉

Before we jump into learning about what these symbols mean on Turkish rugs and pillows, let’s take a step back and talk about some facts and the history of weaving to get a better understanding of the importance. 

Facts and Some History about Turkish Rugs

Turkish rugs are different than other rugs in their creation. Each Turkish rug is made with double knots, compared to other rugs made with a single knot (or woven), making them MUCH sturdier and more durable. This is why Turkish rugs they’re great for high-traffic areas, families with kids and dogs, and will last a lifetime. 

Did you know the oldest carpet known is a tightly knotted carpet discovered in the 80’s - dating back to 4th-1st centuries B.C.?

Knotted carpets are woven on a loom with bars spanning horizontally. Then, the warp threads (which run vertically) are stretched. Weavers hand-tie individual knots to create the pattern you see here:

Corner photo of a small, floral Turkish rug, high pile with deep red hues and bright pops of orange, pink and blues.High Pile Designs rug pictured: Defne

If you really think about it, it’s mind blowing. This Turkish rug pictured above is our prayer rug, Defne. Defne is made of tiny, individual knots with different colored wool. The tighter the knot, the more defined the design becomes (while also strengthening the rug foundation).

Sometimes, weavers look at photos or sketches of the pattern, while others (typically more experienced) create the design as they go. These carpets can take weeks, months or years to create and another reason they’re so special. Love, time and care goes into making every single piece you see. 

Historically, women were weaving Turkish rugs as dowries; “property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage” (dictionary definition). So in many pieces, you’ll see symbols pertaining to the wedding, the family, and the future of their two lives together. It’s beautiful, thoughtful and another reason why these pieces are so special and unique. 

The Meaning of Turkish Motifs and Symbols

So, what do the symbols mean and how can you become an amateur Turkish rug reader like us? 

Well - it takes TIME. We spend hours looking over our new inventory to decipher the motifs used. Scouring the internet, asking our vendors when we aren’t sure and reading tons of books, like these!

Books about Turkish rugs

And it was important to us from the beginning to give that information back to you so you become more educated throughout the process. We’ve provided you with the ability to choose a Turkish rug that aligns with what’s going on personally in your life, or just something that speaks to you because it’s beautiful! With the rise of throw-away culture and fast-home goods, intentionally shopping is more important than ever before. 

Examples of Turkish Rug Symbolism on our Site

Here’s an example of the information we share - pay specific attention to the last bullet point, Symbolism

Turkish rug information, featuring symbolism from High Pile Designs website

At a minimum, when you’re thinking about buying a Turkish rug, you should be able to easily find the type of rug, material, dimensions and age. We’ve taken it a step further to give you the region the rug was made in and the symbolism. 

If you saw our recent posts on Instagram, Jessie has some favorites, and I have some favorites.  It’s hard to choose - each meaning is so powerful. But below are some of the most common types of motifs we see in the Turkish rugs we’re sourcing.

Common Turkish Rug Motifs/Symbols and Their Meaning

1. Water - purification, strength, transformation, immortality

Medium Turkish rug showing water symbolism, featuring bright pops up green and pinkHigh Pile Designs rug pictured: Azra

2. Star - wisdom, happiness 

Turkish rug and tapestry featuring red, white, purple and blue 8-pointed starsHigh Pile Designs Rug pictured: Alara

3. Burdock Root - abundance, avert the evil eye

Bright and colorful medium-sized Turkish rug with geometric shapes and stripes
High Pile Designs Rug pictured: Fatma

4. Hair Band - desire for marriage

Muted pink Turkish rug with pastel pink, white and yellow coloring and a bright pop of purple and large central medallions
High Pile Designs Rug pictured: Pembe

5. Comb - related to marriage and birth. When used against the evil eye, it expresses the desire to protect birth and marriage against bad luck/energy

Colorful geometric Turkish rug with dark and bright tones and long fringe
High Pile Designs Rug pictured: Azra

6. Wolves Foot - protection (normally a weaver wants to protect their flock from wolves)

Colorful Turkish rug featuring large geometric shapes and sunset coloring throughout
High Pile Designs Rug pictured: Ebrar

7. Fetter - the desire to tie family or lovers together, harmony

Sunset colored medium-sized Turkish rug with banded geometric patterns
High Pile Designs Rug pictured: (not yet released)


As you can see in some of these photos, the motifs can be difficult to see/decipher. And each symbol has different variations of what it can look like. 

Sustainable Shopping

When was the last time you purchased something intentionally because of its energy and meaning?

With the rise of fast fashion/fast home-goods, our goal is to bring you knowledge and symbolism with each piece, which you’ll be able to have in your home and family forever. 

If you have more questions, we’re here for you! Figuring out the meaning of each Turkish rug is a part of the process we’ve fallen in love with and are excited to continue sharing with you.

Love & Rugs 💕,

Carly and Jessie

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