Pakistani Rugs: The “Pakistani Persian” Rug

pakistani persian rug
A Pakistani ‘Persian’, meaning a Pakistani rug in a Persian style.

In the late 1970s, Pakistani rugmakers came up with a new product, known in the trade as the Pakistani Persian or the Pakistani 16/18, which is still made. As the second name implies, the knot-count of these rugs is a nominal 16 by 18 per square inch, for a total of 288 knots per square inch. That is really quite a finely knotted rug, and the production has enjoyed deserved success.

Designs almost always are Persian, the pile is Australian or New Zealand wool, body is very heavy, colors, though synthetic, are well chosen and attractive. They are sold in three grades called A, B, and C.

It interests me that three different weavers, all working with the same number of knots per square inch, and all weaving the same design, produce rugs that differ radically in quality. Grade A Pakistani Persians are impressively clear on their surfaces. Details are discernible, designs are coherent. Grade C rugs, with the same number of knots per inch, seem out of focus, muddy, confused. What accounts for the difference? The weaver’s skill. The rugs are graded upon completion, and weavers paid on that basis.

Most likely, Pakistani Persian rugs were produced to fill the vacuum created when the U.S. ceased trading with Iran. At a time when U.S. dealers were no longer able to buy Persian rugs, Pakistani Persians were practically the only finely knotted, Persian-looking rugs available.


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    Kim March 15, 2008

    Hi. I would like some help understanding what type of runners I have. I have had them appraised and they are Bukhara and Aspgar (sp). I was told the resale value is about $1500 per runner. I took them to a dealer today and they told me they were indian rugs. And they snubbed their noses. Why? thanks for the insight.

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    Richard March 17, 2008

    Can you send me photos of the pieces? I’d be happy to take a look. I promise not to snub my nose.

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    Bill McReynolds July 22, 2008

    ‘Grade A’ Pakistani Persian, 16/18 rugs, are truly impressive pieces! They’ve ALWAYS commanded a premium, selling price. I’ve also noticed an interesting, steady increase in that asking price for these rugs over the years….. Quality Chrome Dyes, is all I’ve ever seen them in – the reds are definitely Locked-In to stay forever, with these babies!
    Sure would be nice though, to one day see some of these extremely tight-woven, close clipped masterpieces, produced in a softer pallette of all vegetal dyes? Maybe someday, hmmmmm?

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    Mary August 7, 2008

    Hi i have a 9′ x 12′ pakistani rug (maybe 50 or 60 yrs old). We know nothing about its value. if i send a picture could you give me any insight?

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    Richard August 8, 2008

    I’d be happy to.

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    Alessandra May 12, 2009

    I have a rug that looks like it’s from Egypt. The rug has little animals, like birds and little llamas, and considering that llamas only exist in South America, what are those little animals that look like a llama in oriental rugs?

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    Richard May 13, 2009

    Probably a camel. Can you send us a photo to the above address?

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    Jeannine September 26, 2009

    There is little I know about shopping for more rugs for my house. My mother has given me all the ones I have already. I need to know what are the most important factors so I get the best bang for my buck.

    I do know the difference between hand knotted and hand tufted. I understand slightly knots per inch, the higher the better.
    I hear that older rugs are more desirable, dont know that this is true.
    Most of my rugs are maroon with some grey. They have the diamond pattern, dont know what this is called. I have one that had white in it, but a roofer did us a huge favor and it got wet, so the maroon bled some and the rug doesnt look as fantastic as it once did.

    Thanks for your tips.

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    Thomas May 16, 2010

    I’ve noticed that difference with the same KPSI count rugs from Iran and recent Pak program rugs from two well regarded companies. In the Persian rugs, even with lower knot counts, I perceive that the pattern is fuller, smoother and with good detail. Conversely, the Pak rugs seem to be thinner, less compacted, more “pixel-ated” and not as smooth as a pattern. The Pak rugs almost seem to look like an old rug that is worn down near the warps and wefts and one can see the square shape of the knots.

    What can account for such appearance, especially with supposedly higher quality 256 kpsi rugs?

    Thanks for any response.

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    marcy Lockhart May 25, 2010

    I have a rug that I am looking at . 8×10 pakistani, isfahan (sarafiyan) design, any idea of the value?

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    Dana Doyel March 7, 2011

    I bought an 8.7 x 12.6 hand knotted rug that I was told was from the 70’s and made in Pakistan in the Bokhara style. The KPSI is 256. It has five colors. The base is red ( or rust ) and it also has indigo, grey, tan, and white. I am told that it is in good condition with some minor repair needed to the selvedge. I was not told if it is chrome dye or vegetal, it does appear to have very slightly bled in some places. The overall design is pretty with many borders around a central motif of geometric patterns. I would like to know the name of the pattern, and possibly a more specific place of origin. I would also like to know the approximate retail value. Is 256 kpsi a higher quality? Another website categorized that as medium grade. Thanks for any information.

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    Richard March 14, 2011

    It’s always best to send photos.

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    swed March 27, 2011

    There’s no restriction for us Swedes trading with Iran. But I rather have a wellmade Pakistani Persian rug on my floor than many of the crappy ones we import from Iran. The late Shah sure was a despot and a crook but, to my knowledge, he did not permit low quality wowen goods to leave the country. The ever punishing ayatollahs are both despotic and very greedy consequently they don’t mind us buying crappy Iranian products. No, I don’t have any historic nor scientific proof that what I’m suggesting is true. But I have compared lots of rugs and carpets from then and now. And of coz the greater part of imported Iranian rugs still are just outstanding!

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    Gil April 2, 2012

    I have some Pak-Persians 20/20 quality which are amazing. They are by far nicer than my Real Persian rugs. I’ve droped over the years from wine to coffee plus all other kinds of food on them and they look as good as new after I washed them on my drive way. Based on my rugs I give two thumbs up for Pak-Persian.
    Can you tell anything about the difference between Chobi and Agra rugs if there’s any?

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    Corey January 13, 2013

    I am considering the purchase of a hand knotted Pakistani rug and am seeking some advice. The rug is 11.6 by 8 feet. The tag on the back indicates that it is hand knotted and says 92-0 M2. To my untrained eye it appears to have a beautiful pattern without much distortion. It feels soft with a relatively thin pile. I have seen similar rugs with the same basic specifications selling for up to $3,000. This rug is on sale for $1,000 at Homegoods which often sells “overstock” items for less money than can be found in high end or specialty stores. Just wondering if any one with more experience with these types of rugs can let me know, based on my description, if this is a good deal. Thank you in advance.

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    Marcella June 18, 2013

    My father bought a marching pair of tight woven flower and bird pattern pakistan persians when we lived in Karachi in 1949, they are about 6×8 in soft colors. Could you give me an estimate of what they would be worth.

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    Paul July 23, 2013

    I have a rug that is very small we purchased it in Pakistan while living there. It is to be hung on the wall and not placed on the floor. It is a rug that commemorates the bicentennial of the United States. We were told at the time that only 6 were made. Would anyone have any idea if this has any value?

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    Sam November 5, 2014

    I just bought a couple small rugs. They were advertised at Persian – turns out that they’re Pakistani-Persian. I admit, I’m a bit of a rug snob and have always stuck with Turkish. These 2 seem well made, but now I’m wondering if I overpaid for them. If I send a photo, could you please give me your opinion? Thanks!

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    Nasko December 18, 2015

    Assalam-o-Alykum to all. mera nam ahmad hy main muzaffar garh paunjb ka rehny wala hn mujhy ek mukhlis frnd ki tlash hy agr koi frndshp krna chahy to ye mera nmbr hy 03033890546or han boys bhe agr frnd shp krna chahen to main hazir hn qky dosti to kisi sy bhe ki ja skti hy

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    Loretta December 25, 2015

    I have a question about 2 rugs,
    and I’ve sent images to the email above.
    Thanks in advance for your response, and any information you might be able to provide.