Do you have an oriental rug or a special rug of any kind in your house? If you do, you’ve likely thought about how valuable it will be years down the road. For some, it may even be an inheritance to leave for future generations. Or perhaps, you’ve reminisced about the famous and infamous people who once owned it. 

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Whatever feelings you have about your rug, rest assured that these are common sentiments among many rug owners. Today, we’re going to explore a few famous rugs from around the world. Plus we’ll take a look at their significance. By the end, we hope you’ll cherish your own rug even more than you do now!

1 – The Persian Ardabil Shrine Carpet

First, let’s take a look at a UK-based rug. The Persian Ardabil Shrine Carpet is a 17’ x 34’ rug. And it currently calls the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England its home. Many people consider it the most important and famous rug in the world because of its history, preservation, and craftsmanship. The museum bought the piece in 1893 for approximately $2,500 – a stunning dollar figure in those days. 

Highly skilled artisans wove this rug during the Safavid Empire. The royal court often employed skilled artisans such as these. Because of their mastery in weaving, they were the top choice for royalty and the like. 

No one is entirely sure of the origins of this carpet. Yet some believe the court commissioned it for the shrine of the Shaykh. We do know, however, exactly when it was made. An inscription on the edge of the rug explains that the piece is, “The work of the slave of the portal, Maqsud Kashani.” Additionally, the rug offers 945 as the date. This date – 946 in the Muslim calendar – is equivalent to AD 1539-1540. 

2 – Silk Isfahan Rug

Next up is another famous piece – the Silk Isfahan Rug. There is one particular characteristic that makes this Silk Isfahan Rug as famous as it is – the price tag. This highly detailed rug is one of the most expensive rugs in the world. And it sold for a mind-blowing price of $4,450,000 in 2008.

According to Rose Shadkam on Catalina Rug, here are a few factors that made this rug as pricey as it was: “exceptionally high knot density, use of numerous colors, outstanding craftsmanship, and the use of pure silk.” This rug is not only at the top of the list for most expensive rugs sold at an auction, it’s also at the top for rugs sold privately. The previous owner of the rug, Doris Duke, a tobacco heiress, was famous for her inherited riches and vast collection of lovely oriental rugs.

3 – Most expensive rug ever sold

On its The World’s Most Expensive Carpets list, Architectural Digest awards the #1 spot to a red vase carpet. And it refers to the piece as “the most expensive carpet ever sold at auction.” Sotheby’s New York sold the piece in 2013, according to Architectural Digest. And its price topped thirty million dollars at $33.7 million. Architectural Digest explains, “the sickle-leaf design is the rarest of vase-technique carpet patterns and this is the only known example featuring a red background.”

Yes, you read that correctly – $33.7 million! That figure certainly makes the last dollar figure ($4 million) look like a pittance. We don’t know the price that the previous owner paid for the rug in the early 1900s. However, we think it’s safe to guess it was not near the price the rug fetched when it was sold by the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC. The museum inherited the rug in 1925, following the death of the rug’s owner, William Clark who was an American billionaire and industrialist.

4 – The Emperor’s Carpet

Next up is The Emperor’s Carpet. And it’s an extremely detailed carpet from the 16th century that once found its home at the summer residence of the Habsburg Emperors.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art describes this historic piece:

The main field balances a sophisticated net of floral scrolls, large composite palmettes, cloud bands, buds, and blossoms with a myriad of real and fictional animals—dragons and Chinese antelope, lion and buffalo, tigers and leopards, ducks and pheasants. A verse found in the inner guard band likens a garden in springtime to the Garden of Paradise.

If you happen to be visiting New York, you can view this historic piece for yourself. It’s currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Leaving a heritage

Your rug may not have the exotic – or expensive – history that these rugs do, but it still carries the stories and memories you treasure. As you consider leaving your rug as a heritage for your family, keep in mind that it’s worth investing the time and energy to maintain it. To help your rug “live” longer, find out how your rug is made and the importance of keeping it clean!