Lion Rug

Circa 1930
Southern Persia
190 cm x 140 cm
6'2" x 4'7"

Lion rugs are a group of south Persian tribal rugs with the image of the lion as the main motif. These have been known to Iranians since at least the 12th century. The oldest dated lion rug, however, goes back to 1211 A.H. (1796 A.D.) (Tanavoli, 1985, p. 44, pl. 1). This rug was made for a khan (tribal chieftain). It is possible that many of the existing lion rugs were made for khans, as there is an old tradition of spreading lion rugs in royal courts. The khans followed that tradition and spread lion rugs in their tents as a sign of power. Many weavers of lion rugs drew only on their imagination. Their creators (most often women) never saw any lion, whether in life or an image. Thus there are lions depicted in rugs in red, green, and black, and with unusual shapes, many of them with expressions reminiscent of human faces.

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