Did Persian rug makers traditionally deliberately include imperfections, often called Persian flaws? If so, did they do so because only Allah was perfect? Example claim:

Traditional, hand-made Persian rugs have intentional flaws because the Muslim artists feel that only Allah is perfect and has the right to create perfectly. There is a certain ironic arrogance here in that the artist assumes that the intentional imperfect stitch is what makes the rug imperfect. I suppose it’s the thought that counts, but as I sat there thinking about the imperfection of my cheap prayer rug from Turkey, I thought about Allah and His creation.

Note: I'm not referring to the work of modern-day artist Faig Ahmed, who does glitch art with his carpets.

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    I've heard the same thing about the Amish, though I can't find a source for that right now. Apr 4, 2016 at 13:38
  • Supposedly Michelangelo blasted his sculpture of Moses with a hammer because he didn't like the idea of having made a perfect work of art.
    – user11643
    Apr 4, 2016 at 16:16
  • The cynic in me wonders if this was either an excuse for imperfection, or perhaps an early form of trap-streets.
    – Phil Lello
    Apr 4, 2016 at 17:37
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    I have heard that this custom was practiced among certain of the indigenous inhabitants of the American continents. If you google "deliberate flaw" you will find references to ancient Chinese and Amish doing this, as well.
    – GEdgar
    Jan 4, 2017 at 14:27
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    I have no citation for this other than a personal anecdote, but I talked to someone from a fair trade rug cooperative, and he laughed and said that putting in a mistake intentionally would itself be an affront — the exact "ironic arrogance" from your quote. He told me that all rugs have flaws because it's actually really, really hard, and because no one is perfect.
    – mattdm
    Jan 4, 2017 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


The 1903 The Oriental Rug: A Monograph on Eastern Rugs and Carpets says:

Deliberately, if necessary, it must show some defect, in proof that Allah alone is perfect.

The December 1903 American Carpet and Upholstery Journal, Volume 21 says:

A leading tenet in the Oriental faith is that Allah only is perfect, and that man should not attempt to perfect anything.

The 1901 Oriental Rug Weaving says:

Again you will find the designs of rugs slightly irregular or imperfect. This is not the result of carelessness or accident, but is done intentionally by some devout artist. It is thus intended to show that nothing but Allah (God) can be perfect.

The 1911 The practical book of oriental rugs says:

The Turks, being orthodox Mohammedans, never weave figures of animals, birds or human beings into their rugs, as the teachings of the Koran forbid it lest it should lead to idolatry. Neither do they, as a rule, make their rugs symmetrical, their idea being to symbolize the fact that only Allah is perfect. The Persians and Chinese, however, being more liberal, exercise greater freedom in these respects, and in some of their old hunting rugs, of which but few remain, are depicted animals of all kinds.

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    It's worth noting that these are all Western sources, and not necessarily confirmation of anything other than Western belief in this bit of folklore in the early 20th century.
    – mattdm
    Jan 4, 2017 at 18:03
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    @mattdm Having seen many wrong statements in the News nowadays because people just repeat what someone else wrote, without ever checking a source, I share your feeling that these authors could have done the same ting. The author from 1901 could have heard about it somewhere, and the others read his article.
    – daraos
    Jan 4, 2017 at 19:04
  • @mattdm are you sure "V. Gurdji", author of the 1901 book, is Western?
    – DavePhD
    Jan 4, 2017 at 19:20
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    @DavePhD I believe so, yes. From the preface, "This information has been collected here and there during a residence of several years in the Orient". And later, "The number of rugs supplied to Europe and this country is a source of wonder [...]", where "this country" is presumably the United States, the country of publication. Additionally, the writing throughout treats the "Orient" as "other", as in "the mystic folklore and splendor of a semi-barbaric people". The name may be a pseudonym to sound more authentic, or possibly someone with Middle Eastern ancestry but raised elsewhere.
    – mattdm
    Jan 4, 2017 at 19:50
  • @mattdm ok, I found a Muslim, Persian source. "Since only Allah is capable of perfect creation, no man should even try to rival His work. ... Even today, the gifted weavers who produce Persia's exquisite carpets and rugs weave a deliberate error into every delicate composition they create" books.google.com/…
    – DavePhD
    Jan 4, 2017 at 22:07

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