Authentic Persian rugs are made in Iran. They are frequently imitated because of their design, quality, market price, and limited availability.
You will often find Chinese, Indian or Pakastani copies of Persian rug designs. Although some of these have higher knot counts and similar quality of wool or silk or cotton, they are still copies and do not command the same higher market price of their Persian originals. Think of them as “would-be”- they are very similar to the genuine article, but are not in fact genuine.
Some of the newer Indian and Pakistani rugs (less than 30 years old) are made with a lower quality wool and weave. Chinese rugs are increasing in quality in the recent years and are being made with higher knot counts and better materials.
To make things even more confusing, there are Iranian copies of Iranian designs from a different regions within Iran. Many famous Persian designs are named after the regions. The design reflects unique tribal motifs and shared symbols across different rugs. Certain designs bring a higher price in the market and are copied by rug makers outside the region where the design originally developed.
To note, depending on the decade, some Iranian rug regions used poorer quality wool, chemical dyes, and dead wool (which can wear out in 7-10 years).
A US trade embargo went in to effect in 1986 and effects all Iranian goods. It was reinforced in 2010 has reduced the supply of rugs being imported to the United States. For this reason, authentic Persian rugs are in short supply in the United States and the market has been filled with rugs from India, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan and other countries.