The Quintessential Antique Rug: A Look at Heriz & Serapi Rugs

The hallmark of the classic "Heriz" rug is a bold central medallion flanked by four corner panels. The allure is in the crisp, saturated vegetal dyed color combinations woven into large geometricized floral designs. Wool dyed in shades of reds and pinks from madder root and blue hues derived from indigo and incorporated into rectilinear designs instead of curvy ones found on more formal Persian city rugs. That's the beauty; they are coarser, more remote primitive interpretations of classical Safavid dynasty city carpets of the 16th and 17th centuries. The result is a relaxed, welcoming, tribal-like style rug.

center medallion and quarter panels on heriz rug design

Heriz rugs are cottage industry carpets created in the weaver's homes. Hand-knotted by 19th-century craftswomen who didn’t follow a rug graph, knot for knot, as city rug productions did. These women learned the designs as they grew up surrounded by rug weaving in their homes, each adding their own interpretations as they went. You may find Heriz rugs with similar patterns, but no two are identical.

antique heriz rug

Heriz became the widely accepted term for all of the three dozen or so villages that wove rugs in this style, just east of the city center of Tabriz in Northwest Iran. You'll hear the name Ahar, Mehrivan, Gorevan; these are all names of surrounding villages, each uniquely bearing characteristics tied to that location.

In the late 19th century, dealers, traders, and importers classified and referred to those village names on invoices and shipping manifests to denote quality and price. In short, allowing a higher price for the more refined pieces.

map of heriz tabriz and other villages

A Gorevan is the largest, most coarsely knotted of the Heriz family rugs. Karaja refers to single weft construction, and Serapi was the name used for the oldest and most refined of these types.

"Some people assume Serapi is another village or place; however, what makes the most sense to me is that it was a mistranslation of the town of Serab, known for the finest of Heriz-style rugs. Today it's a widely used and accepted term," says owner Jeff Arcari.

Above: Vintage Heriz, Interior design: Meg McSherry Interiors, Photo: Sarah M. Winchester

Landry & Arcari is proud to have curated the most extensive selection in the Northeast and beyond this fantastic and timeless rug type.


shop our antique heriz and serapi collection
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