The floral ornamentation, a later and more intricate method, was adopted by the Aryan races, and carried to its highest development by people inhabiting the country lying between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
The typical design of floral ornamentation is the `flower and knob,* a conventionalized re semblance to the Egyptian lotus or the tree of life of the ancients.
An endless variety of patterns of both classes appear on rugs; they are mixed and intermingled so hopelessly that a rigid classi fication according to ornamentation is almost impossible.
Purely floral patterns, such as representa tions of leaves, trees, blossoms, rosettes, palmettes, are strewn over or under squares, circles, stars, octagons, medallions and various forms of the Swastika in a manner so blended, that a classification of rugs accord ing to ornamentation resolves itself into an unsolvable riddle.
Symbolism.—It is stated by enthusiastic writers on Oriental rugs that a fascinating array of symbolism lies beyond those charming patterns.
The rug itself typifies the universe, and its various designs the ever-changing phenom ena of life. The principal coloring of the field of the rug, if red, signifies life, victory; if blue, royalty; if white, purity; if green, devotion; if black, evil; if yellow, nobility; and so on to the end.
In patterns, the Swastika signifies auspi ciousness, good luck; the flower and knob, for. tune, life everlasting; the circle, immortality; the star, the Star of Bethlehem; the triangle, the charm of Solomon; the square, °the square deaP; the comb, cleanliness, etc.
Among vegetation, the rose typifies love; the lily, purity; the scarlet tulip of Babylon, passion; the blossom, innocence; the fruit, fe cundity; the tree, abundance, etc.
And the star of six points represents Allah! It is reasonable to ask, however, that this endless chain of designs having come to us from the mythological past where the light of knowledge fades in the mist of tradition, who can say positively that a certain design typifies a certain idea — and is not °one man's guess asgood as another*? The greatest charm of Oriental rugs lies in the simplicity of construction, in the impress of individuality of effort and in the incom prehensible mystery of design. The manner of
their making is primitive; the materials used are all home made, and the ornamentations in odd lines, angles, squares or in grotesque like nesses of 'fish, flesh and fowl,* the original meanings of which are forever buried in the first ages of mankind — these, and the wonder of their marvelous colorings, the secret of many being still hidden and many another being en tirely lost, add to %he teasing witchery of the Oriental rugs.
To the uninitiated, of the many unsatisfactory peculiarities concerning the sub ject, the naming of Oriental rugs is the most perplexing. There is no fixed rule that would classify clearly the enormously diversified out put of rugs within the vast area of about three-quarters of the continent of Asia. There are, however, six recognized geographical di visions, which include about all Ofriental rugs of our day, namely: (1) Persian rugs; (2) Turkish rugs; (3) Caucasian rugs; (4) Tur koman rugs; (5) Indian rugs; (6) Chinese rugs.
Persian Persia, the home of floral ornamentation, and the most marvelous ex ponent of textile production of the Orient, stands on the pinnacle of fame by unanimous consent. She attained this enviable position especially during the benign reign of Shah Abbas, in the 16th and 17th centuries, under whose wise encouragement she reached the golden age of the rug industry.
The Ispahan rugs made under Shah Abbas, with their gorgeous field of •Ispahan red' decorated in tulip, rose, lotus, iris floriations, fastened together in chiseled tracery of re fined meandering lines and angles at once puz zling and fascinating established a new epoch of the rug industry, never equalled since.
A somewhat similar pattern of the Ispahan having been evolved, the glossary of Per sian rugs was enriched by another famous of pattern which they called the ((Shah Ab bas,* after that most honored monarch of Persia. The Ispahan rug, as a class, stands alone, and its species is almost extinct, the very few per fect specimens and even fragments being jeal ously preserved in museums or in private col lections.