An oriental rug is a hand knotted/woven textile made of natural materials that come from Far and Middle Eastern countries as well as New Zealand.
There are many factors involved. The quality of the wool, the consistency of the weave, the knot count and the quality of the dyes are all important factors. First, make sure the rug will fit into your home before you become preoccupied with the issue of quality.
It takes a skilled weaver to produce a high knot count rug. Usually, better grades of wool and silk are used in high knot count rugs. Conversely, some of the most beautiful and expensive rugs in the world have low knot counts. While it tells you a lot about the density of a rug and can affect the price and durability, the knot count, or line count should not be the only factor in deciding whether or not you buy a certain rug. There are no minimum standards for knot counts. It’s more important that you like the rug rather than worry about whether or not it has the right number of knots per square inch.
Design and Type
Many rugs are made with symmetrical designs, therefore when judging the quality look out for designs that are significantly stretched or compressed in a manor that detracts from the symmetry. Although some imperfections are part of the natural beauty, significant imperfections will reduce the value. Rugs generally fall into three production types: city, village, or tribal. “City” rugs, which are rugs made in large weaving centers, should have very few imperfections and should be judged on the consistency of their designs, weave, and materials. With “village” rugs imperfections are an important part of the charm where the weaver’s personality can be expressed through their work. Still, even with village production poor weaving and material quality should not be confused with charming design imperfections. And finally, “tribal” rugs are woven by nomads, a group of people whose lifestyle is fast disappearing as modern society restricts their seasonal movement. These rugs are generally small and made completely of Wool (warp, weft, and pile) since it is the only fiber easily available to the weavers.
Dyes and Abrash
Many rugs today are made with quality synthetic and natural dyes that are colorfast. If you are buying a rug and you see that in some areas the design has a blurred outline, then it could be that the dyes are unstable and will run when it is cleaned. One way to check for dye run problems is to rub the rug with a damp white cloth using warm water. If the color comes off on the cloth, then the dye will most likely run when the rug is cleaned. Our advice is to avoid rugs that show signs of dye run unless of course you really love the piece.
With city rugs, abrash (see glossary) is not beneficial and will most definitely reduce the value. On the other hand, with village rugs, abrash can enhance the beauty and its folk art appeal.
Not necessarily. Knot count is only one criterian in judging quality. Check the back of the rug, the closer the knots the finer the weave. In the village and tribal rugs, such as Indian, Turkish, Afghani, and Caucasian pieces, the larger, coarser knot is complementary to their bold, geometric designs. Remember that lower knot counts will give the rug a more primitive or casual look which many buyers find desirable while the higher knot count rugs will impress you with their fine detail and elegance.
When comparing the knot count between rugs of different regions it is not so much an issue of quality, but one of the aesthetics. In the case of comparing two rugs from the same region, then knot count is very likely going to be an important factor in determining value.
The quality and durability of a rug depend on many factors including construction and especially the characteristics of the wool. If the rug is thick, but a poor grade of wool is used in its construction then it will not wear well. Conversely, if a rug is thin and tightly knotted and made of high-quality wool, then it will wear like iron!
Historically, the term Persian rug and the term oriental rug were synonymous; today this is no longer true. Since the 1970’s rugs made in India, Pakistan, China, and Nepal have dominated the world rug market by offering consumers more choices and value.
Think of your rug as you would a picture on the wall, and think of your carpet as you would the paint! A rug is a focal point and it defines a space. Rugs can pull all your other furniture and fabrics together to create a completely harmonious environment. Most people have beige or neutral colored carpet and their room would benefit from having a rug placed on the coffee or dining room table.
Yes! Please don’t try to save money by not buying a good pad; you will most likely live to regret that decision in a few years. Buy a pad that is specifically made for rugs, carpet pad will not work because it is designed to allow the carpet to be stretched over it while a rug pad is designed to grip.
Rugs are easy to care for and will give you years of enjoyment with a minimal amount of care. Start with regular vacuuming always being careful not to catch the fringe. Rotate the rug 180 degrees every year or so.
Handmade rugs are a GREAT value!
Don’t believe me? Well, let’s do the math…
Let’s take a 9 X 12 rug that sells for $3999. as an example.
A 9 X 12 rug is 108 square feet, or 15,552 square inches (108 X 144)
Let’s say that this 9 X 12 rug is of medium quality and had 150 knots per square inch:
150 knots x 15,552 square inches = 2,332,800
WOW! One 9 x 12 rug has over two million knots!!!
A good weaver can weave about 5,000 knots per day. So keeping that in mind…
2,332,800/5000 = 466 days.
3 weavers work on a 9 x 12 rug.
466 days / 3 = 155 days per weaver or 31 weeks.
31 weeks x 40 hours a week= 1240 hours per weaver
3720 hours total!
3720 x $7.15 (min. wage) = $26,598
$26,598 is weaving time only.
Oh, and let’s not forget about:
Benefits (add 20%) $31,917
Cost of the wool and cotton, plus the cost to spin and dye the wool
Design work, loom set-up, finishing, and washing.
and shipping cost
So taking into account the amount of time, materials, care and craftsmanship that goes into creating just a single handmade rug, and the fact that they last decades, you can’t deny the amazing value that you’re getting!
Two basic things that show quality in a rug are small, tight knots and a fine pattern with a clear design on the front as well as on the back of the rug. The wool should feel oily, full of lanolin. It’s always best to purchase a rug from someone you trust and from a reputable store.
Most rugs are made by persons at least 14 years and older. Child labor is not a child working alongside his parents in the evening after school as a way to learn this time-honored art. Fairly paid refers to the artisans setting a price that they feel adequately compensates them for their work and skill.
Completion time depends on the type of rug. As an example, a 9’x12′ Persian rug that has 100 knots per square inch would take 2-3 artisans working 7 hours a day 6 days a week approximately 5 months to complete!
We recommend a professional wet wash every four to six years.
Hand-knotted rugs are the only true Oriental rugs. Industry standards insist that for a product to be labeled as “hand-knotted” it must actually be knotted by hand. Many other rugs are labeled and advertised as “hand-made” or “hand-tufted”, including hooked and needlepoint rugs. “Tufted” rugs can be made by hand or machine. The pile yarns are punched into a fabric (usually cotton), the face pile is clipped and a cotton material covers the back of the tufted rug.
“Machine-made” rugs, as the name suggests, are made by machine – not by hand. “Wall-to-wall” carpeting is not as durable as a hand-knotted rug because its backing is glued to the foundation; knotting does not occur.
As with any other hand-made item, hand-knotted rugs are sometimes less than precise and this may add to their appeal. However, what may be a tolerable imperfection to one person may be unacceptable to another. For example, one rug may have crooked edges, white knots or contain areas of abrash.
These conditions are not necessarily “flaws”, and what may be considered a flaw in one type of rug may be considered characteristic of a different type of rug. Only you can determine whether a rug will be suitable in your home, given any minor imperfections that may exist.
A change in color in the field and/or border of your rug is called “abrash” and is due to differences in wool or dye batches used in the weaving of your rug. The color change extends across the rug, left to right, following a weft yarn.
Rather than view abrash as a rug flaw, many rug admirers value this condition as an artful hallmark of a hand-woven rug. Many machine-made rugs are now emulating this abrash effect to give the appearance of a hand-made rug.
Owners of hand-knotted Oriental rugs often ask why the fringes of their rugs begin to easily pull away. Most often, this occurs due to normal foot traffic and vacuuming.
The fringes on hand-knotted rugs are an extension of the foundation warp yarns of the rug. Because the fringes lie directly on the floor they are not protected from foot impact and abrasion like the pile of the rug. Also, a common practice with many modern Oriental rugs is the “chemical washing” of the rug after weaving is completed. The rugs are saturated with a chlorine bleach solution to mute the colors and/or give the wool a shiny appearance. The rug is then rinsed with an acid solution to prevent yellowing. This procedure is repeated several time until the desired effect is achieved. This process does some limited damage to the wool pile but has a harsher effect on the fringe, actually weakening the fiber.
This pre-existing fringe damage is often not noticed until after the rug has been cleaned and pieces of fringe are noticeably absent. Prior to cleaning, a build-up of soils can act as an adhesive to hold broken pieces of the fringe in place until the cleaning process removes the sticky soil residue. The small, broken fibers are then free to slide apart and the fringe sheds rapidly.
If you gently tug on the fringes of your rug before cleaning, you may find the fiber comes apart easily. At this point, the only remedy is to replace the weakened fringe fiber by weaving in new, untreated and undamaged fringe yarn. When you have a rug repair concern, call us for a free repair evaluation.
Almost every interior textile will lighten in color or “fade” over a period of time. The extent of damage depends on the item’s location, exposure to light and elements, color, intensity, type of dyes and the dyeing method used. The sun (and other sources of light and fumes) may fade the colors of your specialty rug, especially if the rug is placed in an intensely bright location. To minimize this problem, prevent prolonged exposure to intense sunlight by keeping the windows covered or treating them with a protective coating that filters out the ultra-violet (UV) rays of sunlight. You may also wish to simply rotate your rug every three months.
The names of Oriental rugs are often difficult to pronounce and confusing to many. They conjure up images of faraway lands and exotic locales such as Sarouk, Kashan, Kerman, Bokhara, Peking, Samarkand, Heriz, and Tabriz. The names originally referred to the cities, villages or nomadic tribe which specialized in a specific rug weave, pattern or quality. But using the cities to identify specific rug styles is no longer a rule of thumb since many patterns are now woven in cities – and countries – other than their origin. The names are now more useful in describing a pattern than discovering the area where the rug was made.
Today, many rug names include a prefix that identifies their country of origin. For example, the rug name “Indo-Kashan” describes a rug with a Kashan design made in India, whereas a “Sino-Tabriz” is a Tabriz design made in China. This is not always the case, however, as new designs are sometimes given their own names by the wholesale rug companies that have them produced.
Each rug has a “light” side and a “dark” side, depending on whether one looks into the nap or with the nap. The color intensity you see from one end of the rug may be vastly different from what you see on the opposite end.
This results from the weaving process as each knot is hand-tied and pulled down. This creates the nap of the rug with all of the fibers laying in the same direction. Once you have your rug in your home, examine it closely from both ends, since you may wish to turn it 180-degrees to ensure the best possible effect.