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Anatolian Rugs: What You Need to Know

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Anatolian Rugs: Colors and Patterns for Every Design Scheme

Anatolian rugs are beautiful Turkish carpets filled with history and symbolism. Their bright colors and mesmerizing patterns continue to inspire awe, just as they have done for millennia. Best of all, they work with just about any interior design—including yours!

The Rug Gallery President Beau Presnell shows several Anatolian rugs available at The Rug Gallery, and ideas for how to incorporate them into your own home.

What is an Anatolian rug?

Anatolian rugs refer to a type of Turkish rug woven in Anatolia and adjacent areas. Unlike kilim rugs, which are flat-woven, Anatolian rugs are hand-knotted and pile-woven. They can be used on the floor or as decorative wall hangings. Increased trading between regions in the 13th century led to the blanket term “Turkish” for any carpet originating from this area and beyond. 

These rugs have always represented wealth and luxury and were frequently featured in Renaissance paintings. Mass production and the use of synthetic fibers and dyes led to a decrease in the art and craft of Anatolian rugs. However, initiatives beginning in the late 20th century began reviving the tradition of hand-weaving and naturally-dyed wool.

These days, you can find both new and vintage Anatolian or Anatolian-style rugs. True antique Anatolian rugs are highly valued and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Anatolian rug

How to Decorate with Anatolian Rugs

Because Anatolian rugs fall under Oriental or Persian design patterns, they can be used with practically any room style. The appeal of these and other Turkish-style rugs is the countless options available when it comes to color combinations, designs, and fabrics. Always a classic, these rugs work in traditional and contemporary rooms alike. Because they are hand-knotted they vary in size, making them work well as scatter rugs perfect for a hallway, kitchen, or laundry room. They also work well to layer over natural fiber pieces. 

When incorporating this style of rug into your overall design, interior designers recommend the following tips:

  • the rest of the room’s decor should be monochromatic or neutral
  • furniture colors should match those in the rug
  • don’t be afraid to mix patterns, throughout the room and on the floor both

Where do Anatolian rugs come from?

Anatolia, or Asia Minor, is the major part of modern-day Turkey. It is the westernmost point of Asia. The region is surrounded by the Mediterranean, Black, and Aegean Seas and land-bordered by the Turkish Straits and Armenian Highlands.

What are Anatolian rugs made of?

These rugs are traditionally made of wool or cotton. Exotic fibers have also been identified including ox, bear, goat, or camel. While distinguishing carpets from specific tribes can be difficult, regional groups can be identified through the weaving techniques, colors, texture, and motifs used. Most Anatolian rugs feature a symmetrical pattern weaving technique called the Ghirodes knot.

5 Popular Anatolian Rug Motifs

Symbolism has been used since humankind’s earliest days to express thoughts and ideas. The motifs featured on Anatolian rugs are a rich language filled with the ideas the weaver wishes to express. Not every symbol used bears significance, but there is usually a connection between the “visible” motif and the “underlying” motif or hidden message. Some popular motifs include:


“hands on hips”

This motif is popular throughout Anatolia. It represents a woman with her hands on her hips, a symbol of fertility and motherhood. In addition to rugs, it can be found on everyday household items such as farmhouse sacks and kitchen cloths. Many Anatolians believe using items featuring an elibelinde will bring the blessing of a child.


Nazarlik and Muska:
“the evil eye”

According to Anatolian beliefs, everyone is at risk of nazar, or unspecified evil. The motif of the nazarlik wards off risk for family, pets, and valuable items in the home. The muska is another evil eye symbol with a different design. The nazarlik is more of an oval eye shape while the muska is triangular.



The idea of abundance and happiness is central to Anatolian culture. On woven rugs, it is conveyed through the use of motifs such as:

  • fruit
  • animals
  • trees
  • flowers
  • soil
  • leaves
  • rocks
  • water
  • mountains

“ram’s horn”

While elibelinde represents a strong female the male equivalent is the koçboynuzu. This ram’s horn motif represents traits valued by the Anatolians such as heroism and strength. Like the elibelinde, it is featured on everyday objects and clothing. It is also found on tombstones throughout the region.

Hayat Agaci

Hayat Ağacı:
“tree of life”

A common symbol throughout the world, the tree of life represents the link between life on earth and heaven above. In Turkey, cypress trees are the most common representation of the tree of life motif. In addition to rugs, the tree of life symbol can be found on everything from pottery to woodworking.

If you’re looking to bring a rich, warm look to your space look no further than a gorgeous Anatolian rug from The Rug Gallery. Visit our showroom to see our entire collection.

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