City rugs began being made around 1,500 A.D. during the Golden Age of Persian art when master designers sketched and laid out patterns for the craftsmen to follow. These rugs are made in major cities; thus the name. Tribal-style rugs began thousands of years ago. They are made in the villages by people who do not use patterns but, instead, rely on design ideas they have memorized and pass on from generation to generation by the making of the rugs.
City rugs are often more self-conscious rugs: the weaver is making the rug to sell, and so chooses colors and design not so much on the basis of what is traditional, but on what is likely to sell in the market.
City rugs are often the product of very specialized labor. Whereas the country weaver might build the loom, prepare and dye the wool, decide on the design, and weave and wash the rug, these functions are usually performed by different people in the city. Often there is an entrepreneur who hires designers, graph makers, dyers, weavers, and washers to make especially high quality carpets, rugs which would take too long to weave and involve too much investment for a weaver working all alone.
These City rugs are often very tightly knotted with very intricate patterns of many colors (more than ten). There is a linkage between the number of knots per sq. in. in the rug and the thickness of the pile: if a rug is very tightly knotted with an intricate design, the weaver usually clips the nap short so that the design renders with maximum clarity. Fine City rugs are often closely clipped.
Country (sometimes referred to as Tribal) rugs are often less tightly knotted than city rugs. Typically, their designs are more simply drawn, and are often bold and geometric.
Country rugs are usually woven of locally available materials. Many weavers, for instance, use cotton for the warp and weft of the rugs they make (cotton is less elastic than wool, and it is easier to weave a straight and flat carpet on cotton foundation). Semi-nomadic pastoralists like some Balouch and Afghans, however, use wool for their warp and weft because they do not produce cotton themselves.
Country rugs often use fewer colors (five or six) than city rugs, and some country rugs still use vegetable dyes like madder and indigo.