Ziegler Rug History & Origin Guide

Ziegler Rugs: A Journey from Tradition to Modern Masterpieces

Ziegler rugs, also known as Chobi rugs, are a testament to the fusion of traditional and modern rug weaving techniques. Originally inspired by Persian designs, Ziegler rugs have evolved over time to become a distinct category of their own. In this guide, we'll explore the origins, history, and characteristics of Ziegler rugs, as well as their journey from traditional inspiration to contemporary masterpieces.

"Chobi" is a term derived from the Farsi word "chob," which means "wood" or "lumber." In the context of rugs, "Chobi" refers to a type of rug that features a natural, muted colour palette inspired by the hues found in wood. These rugs are typically hand-knotted and crafted with vegetable dyes, which give them their characteristic soft and subtle colours. Chobi rugs are also known for their high-quality craftsmanship and intricate, traditional designs. They are often associated with Ziegler rugs, as both styles share similar characteristics and are sometimes used interchangeably.


Origins and Inspiration of Ziegler Rugs

Ziegler rugs can trace their roots back to the late 19th century when a German company, Ziegler & Co., began producing them in the Sultanabad region of Iran (now known as Arak). The company aimed to create rugs that appealed to the Western market while preserving the quality and craftsmanship of traditional Persian rugs. To achieve this, they employed local weavers and provided them with high-quality materials and designs inspired by Persian motifs.

Characteristics of Ziegler Rugs

Ziegler rugs are known for their distinctive style, which is characterized by soft, muted colours and subtle, elegant patterns. These rugs often feature a central medallion or a repeated pattern, with intricate floral and geometric designs that are carefully balanced to create a harmonious composition. The colours used in Ziegler rugs are often vegetable-based dyes, giving the rugs their distinctive soft and warm hues.

Quality is a hallmark of Ziegler rugs, with weavers using high-grade wool and fine knotting techniques to create durable, luxurious rugs that can last for generations. Their knots-per-square-inch (KPSI) can vary, but typically, Ziegler rugs have a medium to high knot density.


Modern History of Ziegler Rugs

The popularity of Ziegler rugs continued to grow in the Western market throughout the 20th century. However, due to political unrest and economic sanctions, production in Iran eventually ceased. This led to the relocation of Ziegler rug production to countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where skilled weavers continue to create these beautiful rugs using traditional techniques.

Contemporary Ziegler rugs maintain the same level of quality and craftsmanship as their predecessors, while incorporating modern design elements and colour palettes. The result is a versatile rug that complements both traditional and modern interiors, making them highly sought after by interior designers and homeowners alike.

In recent years there has been a trend towards Ziegler rugs hand-crafted to their well known traditional patterns but utilising bright and bold colour combinations such as grey fields with strong purple motifs. Although of course the more neutral tones of the classic Chobi or Ziegler remain as popular as ever. 


Expert Insights on Ziegler Rugs

While Ziegler rugs are known for their traditional and timeless appeal, there are a few expert insights that can help you appreciate their craftsmanship and uniqueness even more.

Vegetable Dye Variations

The use of vegetable-based dyes in Ziegler rugs contributes to their soft, subtle colours, but it also leads to variations in the shades of individual rugs. These variations are considered desirable because they add character and depth to the rug, making each piece truly unique. The process of creating vegetable dyes is also environmentally friendly, which adds to the appeal of these rugs for eco-conscious consumers.

Abrash Effect

Due to the nature of vegetable dyes and handmade weaving techniques, Ziegler rugs often display an effect called "abrash." This term refers to the subtle variations in colour and tone that can be seen across the rug's surface. Abrash is a natural result of the hand-weaving process and the use of organic dyes, and it is considered a mark of authenticity and character in a Ziegler rug.


Alternative Names for Ziegler Rugs

Various terms are used to describe Ziegler rugs due to their popularity and widespread production. Some of the common terms used to describe these rugs include:

  • Chobi: Derived from the Persian word 'chob,' meaning 'wood' or 'timber', Chobi refers to the natural, vegetable dyes used to create the soft, muted colours in Ziegler rugs.
  • Peshawar: Sometimes, Ziegler rugs are referred to as Peshawar rugs, as they are made in the Peshawar region of Pakistan. Peshawar rugs typically have a similar design and colour palette to Ziegler rugs.
  • Sultanabad: Ziegler rugs are sometimes called Sultanabad rugs, named after the town of Sultanabad (now Arak) in Iran, where the original Ziegler rug production began in the late 19th century.
  • Chobi Rang: This term combines Chobi, referring to the natural dyes used, and Rang, meaning 'colour' in Persian, highlighting the beautiful, soft hues of Ziegler rugs.
  • Mahal: Mahal rugs are another type of Persian rug that bears similarities to Ziegler rugs in design and colour palette. Sometimes, the terms Ziegler and Mahal are used interchangeably.

Keep in mind that these terms might not always be used consistently among rug sellers, so it's essential to examine the rug's quality, design, materials, and craftsmanship to ensure you're getting an authentic Ziegler rug.



Ziegler rugs have come a long way since their inception in the late 19th century. Their journey from traditional Persian-inspired designs to modern masterpieces is a testament to the skill and adaptability of the weavers who create them. With their timeless elegance, exceptional quality, and versatile style, Ziegler rugs continue to captivate and inspire, making them a cherished addition to any home or collection.

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