signatures are placed in various locations, often based on origin. The most common location for a signature panel in a Persian piece is centered at the top of the carpet. In Turkish rugs, signature panels are often found in the upper left hand corner. Signatures in Armenian carpets are commonly found in the field. In most other countries of origin, a signature would be found in the corner of the upper left or right border. Not all carpets have signatures, and signatures do not necessarily add value. However, at the very least, a signature provides an interesting conversation point. For the purposes of the Rug Estimator Pro, if you cannot read the signature, or have not been told explicitly what the signature means, please choose "other." Below we have outlined some of the basic facts about signatures- the good, the bad and the ugly.
While not all signatures are significant to either the value or importance of a carpet, some signatures may provide a significant amount of information. They may include dates, weavers names, workshop names, trademarks, or even for whom the rug was made. The information provided by these signatures may be significant because of rarity as well as a reference to origin, authenticity and age. In unique instances, some rugs may have as many as three signatures. Any more than three would usually be an inscription. Often what might be taken for a signature is actually a panel with inscriptions of poetry or historical works. Some inscriptions refer to important people or events. Other inscriptions may or may not have to do with the "story" of the carpet, but often serve to augment the motifs or designs in the rug.
Any and all of the above may work together to increase the value of a given carpet, however "good" signatures are rare for many reasons, which brings us to...
The Bad and The Ugly:
A signature does not necessarily increase the value of a carpet. A "good" signature is clear and easy to read, however in many newer imports, signatures and Persian writing are not legible from the either front or the back. This implies that the writing is either copied poorly or the quality of the carpet was not fine enough to support the intricate lettering. Illiteracy also leads to poorly executed signatures. In other cases, words in the carpet are neither sensible or sequential, leading to a random string of writing. Words may have been chosen for their aesthetic value, not necessarily their meaning. A well known importer once told a story of his trip overseas where the designer of a rug had integrated signature panels of which he had not decided on the content. Too large for his signature, and too small for poetry, the designer decided to weave in Farsi the words "Buy Me". An unusual case, however the Western Market is oblivious. It is also not uncommon for signatures or trademarks to have been "stolen". While this is not illegal (due to lack of trademark laws) they detract from the authenticity of the carpet.
Below: An example of a tabatabaie tabriz which is approximately 50 years old.
Below: An antique Dilmaghani Kerman (fourth quarter of 19th century).
Below: An example of a less ornate signature (Arjemand) which is a nice touch to this semi-antique (50+ year old) Kerman.
Below: An example of a trademarked carpet.