Oriental Rugs

How Oriental Rugs are Made

Creating an oriental rug is a process that takes several months to a few years to finish by hand. This ancient rug is one of the most desired in the world, representing over 2,500 years of history and craftsmanship in its intricate design. While machines today can make oriental rugs far faster, they lack the uniqueness of being handmade. In addition, they are considered lower in value and not as desired as those made by hand.

Making the Rug by Hand

Making oriental rugs by hand is still an art form, combining thousands of years of learned techniques with natural materials. It all is based on a design plate or comes from the mind of the weaver depending on their experience and skill level.

All rugs have an underlying structure where the pile is connected through a series of knots consisting of warps and wefts.

Warp: This is the strand running vertically on the rug. They are the threads that have knots tied to them for support.

Wefts: They are placed between the warps to keep the knots in place. The weft strand is passed through the warp and then combed and compacted into place. This creates a tight structure of knots which make for a stronger, more durable rug.

The rug’s fringe is the loose ends of the warp that have been tied to keep it together. So, a person creating an oriental rug would have a series of warps or vertical threads in place and weave the wefts or horizontal threads, batten them down, and connect them with the knots. The more knots, the stronger the rug and more valuable it becomes.

Starting an Oriental Rug

Everything starts with the design. This could be a design requested by a customer or quite often the rugs utilize the designs of the local area or tribes. Sometimes, specific diagrams are requested for the weaver to place in the formation of the rug.

Materials: The three most common materials are wool, cotton, and silk. Depending on the region, the hair from goats or camels are used as well. This is because the rug is meant to represent the village, town, or tribe that creates it. And uses the local resources that are available.

  • Wool: The most common material. Soft, durable, and plentiful in most areas
  • Cotton: The preferred material because it is light and strong
  • Silk: More of a specialty material. Often used in oriental rugs that are meant for tapestries

The wool most commonly used mostly comes from the shoulders and underbelly of sheep as it is the softest. Wool of this nature is often combined with silk to create a unique oriental rug. You’ll find that Kurk or Kork wool is the most prized and used in the creation of many Persian rugs.

For the most part, cotton is used for both the warps and wefts in the creation of Persian rugs. This is because cotton is plentiful in Iran but is sometimes imported as well. Cotton that has been mercerized can be used to create a silk-like appearance that is less expensive compared to using silk itself.

Silk is highly prized, but also quite expensive. Silk originally comes from China, but other countries imported the silkworms which resulted in the materials becoming more easily available. Silk has natural fibers that are thin and quite strong, but they are not nearly as durable as wool. A considerable amount of work goes into the creation of silk material, which is why it is mostly used for rugs that will be placed on display or used as tapestries.

Dyes: Arguably the biggest change in oriental rugs over the past century is the use of chemical dyes as opposed to natural types such as those derived from vegetables. There has been considerable controversy over the use of modern dyes, but there is no doubting their advantages. From being easy to obtain to their greater brightness and color selection, modern dyes are now a vital part of the rug creation process.

Natural dyes: Although it may seem counterintuitive, natural dyes actually last longer compared to their chemical counterparts. While the colors selection is more limited and the brightness more muted, there is little doubt that some of the more beautiful colors come from natural sources. They are used for the warps and wefts to create the colorful patterns seen in each rug.

One interesting aspect about using dyes is that the colors become weaker when all the material is dyed in a single pot. This became a desirable goal as no vegetable-based dye could create the color green unless a faded version of blue was combined with yellow.

Making the Rug

Once the design is decided, the dyes have been used, and the warps set up, the weaver will start the process of creating the rug. While the mechanics of making the rug are fairly straightforward, the time-consuming effort is mostly because of the sheer number of hand knots needed to make a quality product. The weaving of the weft into the warp and packing it down takes relatively little time, but the addition of the knots means that the weaver will spend many hours in creating the rug itself.

When the process begins, it must be seen to its finish. Although changes can be made as long as that part of the rug has yet to be completed. Because the tightening process occurs as the rug is being made, once it is completed the rug should be ready for use.

The creation of an oriental rug by hand is a task that may take years to complete based on the size of the finished rug. The amount of materials used, the painstaking effort at tying knots, and the use of dyes both natural and man-made will determine the overall color, quality, and beauty of the finished product. Oriental rugs are a time-honored tradition that reflects the culture of the people who created it while being loved by those who purchase them for their homes or collections.

Oriental Rugs

Oriental Rug Origins

An oriental rug is a hand knotted carpet that originates in the countries that are part of the Oriental world which is mostly located in Asia. Such countries include Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, and Tibet which are the largest producers of oriental rugs. The term oriental rug is really the family of rugs that make up this part of the world. That is why rugs from Iran, which are known as Persian rugs, are considered oriental rugs, too.

This type of rug consists of unique designs, interesting color combination, and most importantly a distinctive knot that holds the rug together. Most rugs are named for their country, region, or even village that they were created. Sometimes they are named after the tribe that created them. Until the 20th century, the rugs were handmade. Today, you’ll find many oriental rugs that are made by machines.

History

The origins of oriental rugs go back to ancient times. Although the exact origin is not known, in 500 B.C. the Pazyric carpet was first crafted in the Achaemenid period. It is arguably that the rugs pre-dated that time by hundreds of years, but these are the earliest examples that either exist or were mentioned in historical records.

Persian carpets were mentioned in Chinese texts that came from the Sassanid period which goes back to 641 CE. Cyrus the Great, ruler of the Persian Empire had his palace decked in many different oriental rugs which drew the admiration of Alexander II of Macedonia when he saw them around Cyrus’ tomb. It should be noted that these rugs are rather primitive in comparison to today’s versions, but the basic approach is still the same.

How Oriental Rugs are Made

How Oriental Rugs are Made

While there are different methods in terms of the materials, colors, ad design, the basic approach is still the same for handmade oriental rugs. The wool, cotton, or silk material is dyed to the desired color, then the threads are weaved together to create the rug. The knots are what hold the rug together, so the more knots you can find in the rug, the more durable and valuable it should be.

In addition, there tends to be more knots in the silk compared to wool due to the delicacy and thickness of the material. Many rugs with silk are mostly used as tapestries or displayed in areas so they will not experience foot traffic. This is why most rugs that are designed to be placed on the floor are crafted from wool or cotton depending on the material that is available in the region.

Over the next thousand years, oriental rugs became more elaborate when incorporating different designs and colors. They also became larger on average as well. One important addition was silk, a material that augmented the wool fibers and is still quite notable even if delicate. It should be noted that each country that produces this type of rug has its own history as well.

Afghanistan & Pakistan

These two countries are joined together thanks to being next-door neighbors with tribes that share similar designs in oriental rugs. Although not produced in Iran, these are considered Persian rugs as well due to the influence in each country. The opening of the Western market has ironically slowed the production of the rugs which used to be for displaying tribal designs and emblems to celebrate the past. One advantage for those looking at purchasing this type of rug is that they are still mostly handmade.

Iran

The country associated with Persian rugs this may be the most prominent birthplace of weaving carpets. The intricate designs, high-quality materials, and vibrant colors make Persian rugs some of the most popular in the world. However, political and social unrest has slowed down the production of the rugs as they are in less demand. Furthermore, countries like the United States have banned the sale of Persian rugs created after 1979 from the country. Still, the Kerman and Tabriz rugs which are the most prominent Persian rugs still sell in good numbers.

India

It may be somewhat surprising that India and not Iran is the largest producer of oriental rugs. The practice of making such rugs arguably came from the Persians who conquered India long ago. What makes rugs from India unique is the wide diversity of design and colors used to create the rugs. While machines have taken over much of the market in terms of producing the rugs, there are still plenty of artisans who create Indian rugs by hand.

China

For many centuries, China has produced a wide array of oriental rugs. Most notably in the early years for kings and the well-to-do. The emblems that were placed in the rug were usually focused on the current emperor of China. Over time, the design of the rugs became more elaborate, but the basic hand-woven technique was still used until the 20th century when machines took their place.

Turkey

Formally one of the most prominent creators of oriental rugs, the decline of Turkish rugs in recent years is arguably due to the lower quality products produced by machines instead of being handmade. Still, the Turkish silk rug is highly prized and has been in demand for many centuries. The several tribes that still inhabit the country make handmade rugs that reflect their unique culture. The long and storied history of Turkish rugs means that they will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.

The oriental rug continues to be quite popular around the world. Both as a collector’s item to be displayed and as practical rugs for everyday use. Their durability, style, and impressive designs whether hand made or put together by machine are still in demand worldwide. What was once reserved for kings and the rich is now priced so that most people can afford to have such a run in their home.

For collectors, ancient oriental rugs are in high demand and often fetch a considerable price depending on their origin and condition. This is why oriental rugs will continue to be the most sought-after by everyday people.

Information, Oriental Rugs

How to Care for Oriental Rugs

It is amazing how oriental rugs can transform a room or hallway, creating a new look that brings back memories of a time long past. A well-crafted oriental rug will last for many years with the proper care. Knowing how to properly clean and care for your rug means that you, your children, and your children’s children will enjoy it for many years to come.

While there have been some changes to how oriental rugs have been made over the past century, the basic craft is still the same. Using natural materials such as wool, the rugs are handmade and each one is unique in terms of design and appearance. Taking care of the rug means both knowing how to clean it and how to prevent damage from happening.

Prevention

The best way to keep dirt from affecting your rug is to limit how much reaches it. One of the best ways to keep dirt from piling up in your rug is to have everyone remove their shoes when entering your home. This not only works for your rug, but for your home as well. If you decide to keep the shoes on, then watch the rug for any signs of dirt or debris buildup and vacuum accordingly

In addition, you should put padding beneath the rug to keep it in place and to prevent the rug from being overly stressed when furniture or other items are placed up it.

Vacuuming

A good oriental rug can be vacuumed with little to no damage if you use the right setting. This is because the vacuum itself only pulls up the dirt, debris, and other contaminants without harming the fibers themselves. You should vacuum the top of the rug every month if it experiences foot traffic and the bottom or back of the rug once or twice a year.

Beating the Rug

The ancient technique of hanging an oriental rug and beating it to remove the dirt is still quite effective. In fact, vacuuming is a form of beating the rug. If you want to thoroughly clean it without actually using a stick, take the rug outside and vacuum it several times on both sides. Or, you can hand the rug off a clothes ling and use the appropriate instruments to beat out the dirt.

Professional Cleaning

While some may avoid this type of cleaning for fear that it may damage the rug, there are good reasons to take it in every so often for a proper cleaning.

  • Remove dirt and debris too deep for vacuuming
  • Destroy wool moths
  • Remove stains or other discoloration from the rug

Wool moths are small but can do a considerable amount of damage if left unchecked. If you see patches of wool missing, holes, or their white larvae, then you will need the rug professionally cleaned to remove the wool moths.

Light on the Shampoo

A proper shampooing of the rug starts with as little shampoo as needed. This is because the soap in the shampoo can cling to the wool fibers and cause discoloration. So, the goal is to use just enough shampoo to break the surface tension of the water, but not enough to leave behind any residue.

Information, Oriental Rugs

Anatomy of Oriental Rugs

For centuries, oriental rugs were used in tents, homes, and palaces to provide warmth, comfort, and a soft floor. Over time, the inherent value of the oriental rug started to be appreciated throughout the world. The high quality, attention to detail, and fine materials used have made this type of rug one of the most sought-after. The evolution of the oriental rug from its humble origins is based not only on the design, but on the anatomy of the rug itself.

History

It is not known when the first oriental rugs were created, but the oldest surviving rug dates back to the 5th century B.C. The rugs have evolved over time, getting more elaborate in design along with the use of materials. They are handcrafted over time, sometimes years, and create a story with their design that is imbued with the culture and environment from which the rug has been made.

That’s why there are so many different types of oriental rugs because their design and materials are classified by the region from which they were created. Which is the reason why an oriental rug made in North Africa is different than one made in the Middle East which is different than one made in Central Asia.

Authentic oriental rugs date back past the first century A.D. and must come from the North African, Middle Eastern, or Central Asia region to be considered this type of rug. While the simpler rugs created in the early days might have taken weeks to produce, the larger, more elaborate rugs took a year or longer using the hand-woven techniques of the time.

The materials which are used are natural, such as wool, cotton, and silk. In some areas such as China and Russia, you may find rugs that incorporate horsehair or yak hair which denotes what was available in that area. Most rugs have a similar construction in that the fibers are spun and stretched to create strands called a ply. The more ply present, the stronger the rug.

Cotton tends to be the foundation of most rugs consisting of the warp and weft threads as it is stronger than wool. The wool tends to shrink, but is quite common, so it fills out the remainder of the rug. Because silk is so fragile, it is generally used for tapestries and rugs that hang on the wall.

Dyes

Natural dyes that are made from plant roots, such as oak, onion, and the like date back to when the rugs were first created. Artificial dyes started to be included around the 1860s and became more popular as they became less expensive to create. Artificial dyes are now commonplace, although there is now a revival in some parts of the world with using natural dyes.

Elements

From the outside going in, most oriental rugs have a design that consists of the selvedge or outer secondary border. The selvedge is where the warp is tied to prevent the rug from unravelling. A large, main border and then another secondary border that usually surrounds the design element in the middle.

The medallion in the center is usually one of distinctive design which may have a pendant design above, below, or both. The four corners of the inner secondary border are often places for design elements to be included. The main border is the area between the outer and inner secondary boarder and may have design or color patterns in place.

Terms

A better understanding of oriental rugs starts with the history and the terminology used in the creation of the rug itself. What follows are a few of the more common terms that you will find associated with the rug.

Kilim: This is an oriental rug design that is flat and does not reveal any knots. However, you can see the space between the warp threads. Kilim rugs are often used for covering the floor although some designs make them perfect as tapestries. They lack the durability of a pile rug however, which is why they are more used for horse blankets and prayer rugs.

Pile Woven: This is a strong, durable rug that does show off the knots used in its construction. It may be used like a Kilim but is more often found on the floor as a traditional rug.

Pile: Threading a yarn around two or more strings of warp and then tamped down which creates a row. When the threads are severed, they create a surface which is raised. Either a Turkish or Persian knot is used to create the pile. The Turkish one is more common and symmetrical while the Persian is asymmetrical and allows for elaborate design patterns.

What follows are a few other terms that you may run across when looking over oriental rugs.

  • Abrash: A terms that refers to the fading of color inside a rug
  • Jufti Knot: Wrapped around four strings, does not last very long
  • Warp: Horizontal yarn
  • Weft: Vertical strands

It is true that the more knots per square inch (kpsi), the longer lasting the rug will be. That is why you should shop for rugs that have a higher kpsi level.

How to Choose the Right Oriental Rug

Since you should expect to pay upwards of $5000 for an 8’ x 10’ rug, this should be seen as more of an investment. This means you will need to do a little work to get what you need.

The first step starts with the place that you are going to place the rug. Measure it so you know what size you need. You’ll want the rug to end about a foot from the wall depending on your needs, so keep that in mind when measuring. You may want to take a photo to ensure the rug you get matches what you have.

Once you have that, then you should focus on the type of design that catches your eye, the age of the rug, and overall quality to ensure that it will last for a long time to come.

Information, Oriental Rugs

Oriental Rug Cleaning

Oriental rugs are handmade and unique, which is why the art of cleaning them is so important to get right. While most forms of cleaning will age the materials of the rug, wearing them down which in time causes the colors to fade. An oriental rug must be cleaned when needed to prevent the trapped dirt and debris from causing even more damage.

The key is finding the right method that cleans the rug properly while causing a minimal amount of wear and tear. The method that many oriental rug owners use is the handwash process which cleans the rug with a minimum of wear.

Why Handwash Instead of Machine Wash?

Oriental Rug Cleaning

There are good reasons why handwashing is generally considered the best method. This is not only because it has been performed for hundreds of years, but there are other considerations as well.

Handwashing allows for the rug to be cleaned in terms of how much dirt and debris have built up in the fibers. This means that each rug is individually treated, so that it can be cleaned with a minimal amount of wear or damage. Some of the factors that go into hand cleaning a rug include the following;

  • Rug Type
  • Age of Rug
  • Overall Condition

A rug is assessed to determine how the handwashing will proceed. With professional rug cleaning companies, they will treat such rugs in the following manner;

  • Wash One at a Time: Prevents mixing with other rugs
  • Perform Dye Test: To ensure the colors do not run
  • Water Temperature & pH Levels Checked: A formula for each rug is created

Handwashing includes fully immersing the rug in the water and cleaning solution for maximum effect. Because the rug is not mixed with other rugs, there is no transfer or dyes or colors which otherwise might affect your rug. Plus, the handwashing process allows for the rug to be fully cleaned and gently rinsed.

Afterwards, the rug is air dried which protects the fibers. While using fans to circulate the air does little harm to the rug, blowers that press against the rug may cause some damage, especially if heat is used as well.

Why Machine Washing is Not Good

You may find in your community rug cleaners who primarily use machines to wash rugs. This is understandable for many types of common rugs because machines can clean several at a time. However, for the cleaning of oriental rugs, you’ll want to avoid such methods.

Harsh Conditions: The inside of a typical machine that washes rugs can be quite brutal. A combination of contact with the machine parts and the chemicals that are used may do significant damage to the components of your rug. Even when no chemicals are used, the processes of the machine itself may be more than enough to damage the rug.

No Individual Care: Handwashing means that areas of the rug which may have greater wear will get a more delicate treatment compared to other, stronger parts of the rug. A machine cannot make the distinction between such areas, so it washes the rug the same from top to bottom. The result is a rug with greater wear and tear, especially in vulnerable places.

Dye Transfer: If one of the several rugs being cleaned at the same time bleeds out its colors, then it will be transferred to your rug. Since it is often difficult to impossible to know which rugs are vulnerable to losing their dyes, your rug may be stained because it is being washed together with other rugs.

It’s not surprising that even modern oriental rugs can be damaged with just one machine washing. An ancient rug might fall apart depending on its condition. That is why a handwashing approach is recommended.

You might ask why so many professional cleaning companies forego handwashing and use machines even though they may damage oriental rugs. The answer is one of economics, both in terms of time and expense. It is simply easier to toss a rug in with other rugs into a machine and press the start button. Washing just one rug at a time as opposed to ten means far fewer rugs are going to be cleaned.

Handwashing not only takes more time, it takes people who understand how to properly clean a rug which both protects the fibers while removing the dirt, stains, and debris. A good professional rug cleaning company will have both machine and handwashing areas available to separate the run-of-the-mill inexpensive rugs from oriental rugs that need special care.

Finding the Right Professional Cleaner for Your Oriental Rug

If you do not want to wash the rug yourself, then finding a good rug cleaner is the answer. When checking out professional cleaners in your community, you will need to use the following guidelines.

  • Cleaning of Rugs by Hand
  • Top Rated by Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Has National Certification

These are the minimum standards you should hold any professional cleaning company to when it comes to the care of your rug. Cleaning rugs by hand means that it does not come into contact with the metal parts of a machine and receives far less wear. An A+ rating from BBB means that they maintain high standards and offer excellent customer service. Plus, a national certification demonstrates that their cleaning services are recognized.

If you want your oriental rug cleaned properly using handwashing methods, then you should find the right professional company that does the job. It may be somewhat expensive, but a typical oriental rug only needs occasional cleaning if you take care of it properly.

It is true that handwashing is a more time-consuming and arguably more expensive process, but the results are well worth the efforts. Not only does the handwashing remove the dirt and debris, it also protects the rug fibers, so that it stays as strong and durable as before it was cleaned. For protecting oriental rugs during the cleaning process, you’ll want to use the handwash method which a proper professional company provides.

Oriental Rugs, Persian, Turkish

Rug Myths

If every rug tells a story, some are more truthful than others. When shopping for Turkish rugs or Persian rugs, you may hear the dealer tells a little tale about the history of the rug itself. Perhaps it’s true or perhaps it’s just interesting, but whatever the case stories about rugs tend to grow over time until they take on a life of their own.

What follows are a few myths that have been spread about Oriental rugs which need to be straightened out before you go shopping for one on your own.

Use Rug Pads
One weird myth is that rug pads somehow damage the rug. Actually, rug pads keep the rug from slipping which increases their life and protects their value. The rug will also feel thicker, smooth out any bumps or dips in the floor, and perhaps most importantly absorb the noise of foot traffic. Of course, you should only choose the right pads for your rug to get the most out of them. Poor rug pads may indeed do damage to the rug, so only purchase the quality ones.

Design Does Not Identify an Oriental Rug
The design of the rug is just one of several components that identify it, such as Persian rugs or Turkish rugs.

  • Construction
  • Type of Knots
  • Type of Signature
  • Age or Textile
  • Origin

All these factors go towards identifying a rug.

Age Does Not Mean a Rug is More Expensive
Being an old rug helps, but it’s the condition that is the determining factor in how much it is worth. An old rug that is in poor condition will not be worth much at all. Even an old rug in good condition does not make it valuable if it does not have any artistic qualities. It may seem counterintuitive, but an old rug that can be restored will have its value increase.

Rugs Do Not Always Appreciate in Value
Most rugs that were created after World War II have not appreciated in value higher than the inflation rate. In fact, due to the sheer number of new rugs being produced, most people paid more in the 1960s and 1970s compared to today. Plus, the rugs will vary in price depending on demand, so what was once scarce and expensive yesterday may be unpopular and cheap today.

The Number of Knots is Not the Best Indication of Value
This is one of the more popular stories in that the more knots that are in a rug, the greater its value. The truth is that while the number of knots may be important, there are several other determining factors. The overall quality, design, and demand will play larger roles in determining the value of the rug. But it is generally true that the more knots, the better the quality assuming that the rug itself is still in good condition.

Put a Protector on the Rug
There is one persistent myth about not putting a protector on the rug because it will damage the pile and threads. This is not true as rug protectors are quite good at repelling dirt, dust, and possible stains while not damaging the rug itself. A proper rug protector will not stop all stains from occurring, but it will help protect the value of the rug and make it easier to clean.

Don’t Put Silk Rugs on the Floor
Silk is not only delicate, but expensive which is why they should be displayed on the wall or kept in proper storage. Silk is also not very durable and will not last as long compared to wool. Worse, once a silk rug is soiled, it can be quite difficult to fully clean and restore them to their original appearance. There is little doubt that a silk rug is beautiful and make the perfect display for your wall, so keep them off the floor.

You Should Vacuum Oriental Rugs
Because most of the dirt and debris that gets embedded in rugs can damage the pile and threads, vacuuming will help lower the threat. You can combine vacuuming with occasional professional cleaning depending on how much soil gets embedded in the rug. Just remember not to vacuum the fringe as it might become damaged by the brushes.

Wet-Cleaning is Okay, too
If the rug is well-constructed, the proper wet cleaning should be fine. There should be a colorfast test before you wet clean to ensure the colors do not run. You should also bring the rug to a professional cleaner and not have it done at home. Unless you store your rug or hang it from the wall, expect to wet clean it every three to four years depending on the amount of dirt and stains that it builds up over that time.

Use Professional Cleaning Services
Unless you have been cleaning rugs for years with good results, it is best to leave such services to the professionals. You’ll want to hire a company that has experience in cleaning Oriental rugs both new and not so new. You’ll want to take the rug to their location, so their equipment can be used for proper cleaning. The good companies will use products that are safe not only for the rug, but for your home as well. This means that they will take care of your rug to ensure its value.

Persian Rugs are Not Necessarily the Best Rugs
There is little doubt that Persian rugs are popular, but that is in part due to the embargo that took place from 1979 to 1999. While Persian rugs might have been the best before 1979, their overall quality has not improved while rugs from other areas, such as Turkish rugs, have risen in quality. While there are still high-quality Persian rugs being made, they are not necessarily the best.

If you own Turkish rugs, Persian rugs, or other varieties of Oriental rugs, you’ll want to know the facts about how to judge their value, how to keep them clean, and how to protect them so that you can maintain their value over time.

Antique Rugs, Oriental Rugs

Antique Oriental Rugs

There is little doubt that oriental rugs are quite popular around the world. This is especially true of antique oriental rugs, some of which fetch a high price on the auction block. Every so often, stories of people finding antique rugs in second-hand stores for a low price only to sell for ten or more times on the auction block has helped to fuel the demand for this type of rug.

Created from hand-spun wool and augmented by the metals and minerals from the tribe and location from which they are made, antique oriental rugs are long-lasting and quite beautiful in their design. It is a labor-intensive task to create a full-size rug, often taking one person years to complete. Most were made to line the floor of tents, keeping out the dust and dirt while providing a comfortable space to walk and lay down. Their intricate designs representing the tribe and location from which they were crafted.

Definition

Area rugs that were created in Asia are considered oriental rugs. This covers a wide range of new and antique rugs that are on the market today. In addition, the term oriental may describe particular types of patterns found on the rug which are common among those produced in Asia. For over two thousand years, Oriental rugs have been produced which means that the market contains many antique rugs as well.

Rugs of this nature are defined by the area in which they were created. In this case it would be Asia which includes the Middle East, Persia, India, China, and surrounding areas. The rugs made from this area are often called “Eastern” and flourished in the golden age of Islamic culture. Because they are hand-woven, no two carpets are identical even if they were made to be so. Machine-made rugs are too precise and lack the charm and patina of the original versions.

While many see antique oriental rugs as collectors items, they have many other uses as well. For those of durable construction, they are used to cover an unsightly-looking floor, to set boundaries in a room, or define a space. To paraphrase a famous quote, oriental rugs can really tie the room together. Because they are in such demand, this type of rug has been evolving over the past century to meet the needs of homeowners along with collectors.

New technology, dyes, and manufacturing techniques have changed the way many rugs are constructed, but the antique rugs retain their roots as hand-crafted items. The modern era began around the turn of the 20th century when the demand for oriental rugs rose sharply in the Western world. By the 1930s, the new materials, weaving techniques, and overall design of new rugs made it easy to tell them apart from the antique rugs.

Whether as a floor covering, a wall hanging, or a decorative item, antique oriental rugs are considered works of art which means that they are in demand by collectors.

Popularity

Oriental rugs have been a part of Asian culture for thousands of years thanks to their beautiful designs that are quite durable. They became popular in Europe thanks to the Silk Road which spread the culture of the East into the West. Many kings, dukes, and the wealthy collected oriental rugs for their palaces and estates.

How to Shop Online for Ancient Oriental Rugs

It’s not just about the selection, it’s about finding the right rugs from areas in the world that are in high demand. Most notably antique rugs from the Far East, including China, Tibet, Mongolia, East Turkestan, and even India. Finding the right location and having access to the selection available is crucial for making the right investment.

The diversity of oriental rugs means that you can find those that compliment your home. Whether hung on the wall to display their abstract patterns or baroque designs that are more commonly found in Europe, the right selection makes all the difference. From Chinese art deco to Ningxia rugs and more, there are many intricate and beautiful designs waiting for you.

The demand for this type of rug has only increased over the past century with so many desiring to have it in their homes. This is in large part because of the inherent beauty of the oriental rugs that make them the perfect addition. Of course, the collectable and reselling aspect of antique rugs should not be overlooked as in a recent auction at Sotheby’s in New York City fetched almost $34 million for one rug.

Identifying Antique Oriental Rugs

For the rug to be considered an antique, it must be over 80 years ago and use hand-crafted techniques in their construction. This can be difficult to determine at times because some modern oriental rugs are constructed to appear to be old but are still made by machines. The true difference lies in the quality of hand-crafted processes that will last for a long time.

While the term oriental rugs covers a wide area of Asia, the antique versions usually refer to those produced in the Far East. These are rugs that have less of the western influence and sport medallions, intricate patterns that repeat, botanical motifs that are often stylized, and spandrels that create a style which is distinctly from the Far East.

You may also find depictions of animals, natural motifs, and flowers on the rugs that are usually tied together with a single concept. A Chinese dragon rug for example explores the myths of the culture while remaining firmly grounded in reality. The distinctions between the rugs come from the fact that they are produced by different tribes.

Thanks to the mass-production of new rugs. The antique oriental rugs are in higher demand that ever. Using ancient techniques, materials, and dyes, the construction of the antique rugs make them highly desired for collectors and for those who want a beautiful rug to decorate their home. It’s also true that antique oriental rugs are pieces of history that define the culture of the tribe and location in which they were made.

Oriental Rugs

Oriental Rugs as an Investment

It’s not surprising with so many collectables on the market that oriental rugs is considered by some to be a worthwhile investment. After all, there are stories about how an oriental rug sat in a shop for months, if not years at a low price, only to be discovered that it was worth far more. While there are still oriental rugs available that are undervalued, the chances of striking it rich with a single purchase is about as slim as winning the lottery.

However, just because big payoffs are rare does not mean that oriental rugs are a poor investment. As with most collectable items, their value builds gradually over time as the supply becomes scarce and the demand grows. Just keep in mind that for the most part the profits will be far smaller.

Dealers

Most oriental rugs are sold by knowledgeable dealers who understand the basic value of the rugs they are selling. This mean that finding a rug which is considerably undervalued is quite rare. Dealers generally buy wholesale and then set the price at double what they paid for retail. When you think about it, that’s not much of a profit to make double what is paid. Particularly when you consider the other costs involved.

Furthermore, for those who want to sell their rugs, they will have to do so at wholesale prices to dealers or private buyers. Since dealers and private buyers make up most of the rug market, a person wanting to buy a rug for a discount.

Auction Houses

Here, you will bid against private buyers and dealers to purchase oriental rugs. The good news is that major auction houses provide the opportunity to purchase a real bargain. Some rugs will sell for far below their value while others will go for well above what is considered a good retail price.

It’s possible to hit big with a purchase depending on the value of the rug and others overlooking its potential. However, it’s also quite possible that you may be stuck with an overvalued rug. This is because those who are in charge of rugs at major auction houses will place estimates on their value. However, because so many rugs pass through their auction house, they only put estimates on so many rugs. They do find out based on sales how accurate their appraisals came to be.

This is because the rugs are appraised at different values, but generally do not sell out. This is because dealers and private buyers are only willing to spend so much, so roughly 30% of all the rugs do not sell at all. Add to this the fact that some rugs will sell below the minimum estimated amount. Keep in mind that there is a bottom line or reserve price which means that the rugs will not sell for lower than its purchase price.

So, it can be expected that around half the rugs put up for auction will not sell in their estimated range or not sell at all. While a 50% average may sound low, it would be difficult to those who are not experts in appraisals to do any better.

Downside of Auction Houses

In addition to possibly overpaying for a rug, there is the issue of losing up to 10% with your purchase which does not include the commission that the auction house receives. Many auctions will have competitors who will bid with you for the rug. This means that you might pay a little higher than planned because the other bidder, sometimes called an underbidder, also wants the rug at the price you desire.

This means that you wind up paying a little more than expected which cuts into your potential profits. While the loss may seem negligible at first, it does start to add up with the number of rugs that you eventually win at the auction. Unless no one else wants the rug, you should expect to pay a little more than your desired price.

Changing Trends

As with most collectables, the different types of oriental rugs fall in and out of favor over time. Generally speaking, while good rugs will increase in value over time, some types of rugs will enjoy a boost of interest which increases their value even further. This means that if you buy a particular type of oriental rug that is out of favor, you can sell it for a higher than expected price if it comes back into favor.

Of course, the ability the predict the different types that will be in demand is a trait that few, if any possess. But it is something to keep in mind if you are purchasing a wide array of rugs for potential future sale.

Are Oriental Rugs Worth the Effort to Invest?

Despite all the issues and risk associated with oriental rugs, they do make for good investing opportunities. While you wouldn’t want to plan your retirement on them, they do have the potential to return a tidy sum if you do your homework. This means looking at trends in the prices of oriental rugs depending on their origin.

Keep in mind that even if you become quite good at appraising value, that auctions are still quite risky in terms of what you can make. You are better off finding a good, knowledgeable, and honest dealer that can provide expert advice and help guide your purchases. This is especially true if they let you use your purchase as credit for buying an additional rug in the future.

Remember that there are some parts of the world where this type of rug is being made, but not discovered by the outside world such as southeast Asia. Buying up a few rugs from areas of the world that are not front and center in terms of trends may pay off at a future date. Unfortunately, you never know when that date might arrive, so be sure to mix your purchases between solid sellers which make less money and more risky purchases at lower prices that might pay off well.

Kilim Rugs

Kilim Rugs

While the term Oriental rugs covers many different types, Kilim rugs can be considered in a class by themselves. This is because of their popularity, style, and unique construction which makes a Kilim rug one that many will desire to own.

What are Kilim Rugs?

The term Kilim comes from the Turks. It describes a rug of unique construction, made from a pileless textile that is created by using many flatweaving techniques that emanate from Africa across the Middle East to Asia. The specific countries where such rugs originate include the following;

  • North Africa
  • Balkans
  • Turkey: Including Thrace and Anatolia
  • Caucasus
  • Central Asia: Including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China

A Kilim rug might be considered an Oriental rug and it certainly falls with the geographic family. However, most people who are familiar with this type of rug will usually put the Kilim in a separate classification.

Materials & Tools

While seemingly complicated in design, this type of rug is made from simple materials and a straightforward weaving process. The basics needed to weave the rug are a loom, knife or scissors for cutting, a beating comb, and a shuttle although the latter is not required.

Wool is the primary material since it is quite strong, durable, and can be easily weaved. You may also find silk, animal hair, such as camel, horse, or goat, and cotton as part of the mixture of materials with the wool. In addition, some of the decorative items includes beads, baubles, and gold or silver thread to help set a particular rug apart. However, for the most part wool is used which is colored to create the many different patterns that are seen on the rug.

Wool: Probably the most popular reason that wool is used is because the material is plentiful in the region. The strength and durability are the major reasons why wool is so appropriate for this type of rug. However, it can also be easily dyed to create a wide variety of colors. Both for warps and wefts, wool is the primary material. However, there are Kilim rugs that use cotton for the warps.

Cotton: Cotton is also plentiful in the region which combined with its durability makes it perfect for the warps that help create Kilim rugs. It also helps that cotton can be threaded into fine strands for more intricate designs that make each rug unique. It can interweave with wool easily and it holds up over time with minimal maintenance and cleaning.

Silk: While highly desired, silk is not that commonly used in the rug design and only in certain parts of the world. For the most part, silk is used in the Anatolia region of Turkey, most notably int eh Kayseri district where silk is regarded as a status symbol that was woven into the rugs they created.

Animal Hair: Although strong, the use of horse, goat, or camel hair is limited in the creation of Kilim rugs. Goat hair may be the most common thanks to its plentiful supply, but that was mostly used to weave tents and floors rather than create rugs. Camel hair is sometimes used in Kilim rugs because of its strength, which allows for more creativity in the design.

The tail or mane of horses provide for decorative tassels or fringes which makes for a unique design. However, for the most part you will find little to no animal hair in the majority of Kilim rugs.

Baubles and Beads: These are the final touches for some rugs, adding a unique design element that offers a particular appeal. However, many beads and baubles are included simply to demonstrate the authenticity of the rug itself. While extraneous to the purpose of the rug, they are nevertheless an important inclusion for many who weave the Kilim rugs.

How It Is Made

What makes a Kilim rug different than a standard pile rug or carpet is the way it is put together. While pile rugs are usually mad with short strands of wool or cotton in various colors being knotted onto warps and put together with tight wefts. A Kilim rug are created by interweaving different colors of warps and wefts which is known as a flatweave.

The weaving is called the slitweave technique which is created by returning the weft around the last warp located in an area of color. There is a gap that is created between the first color and the next when the weft of the latter is returned around the warp that is adjacent. The weaving will pack the wefts tightly, which covers the warp. The result is that many Kilim rugs feature diagonal patterns which help to hold up the vertical slits.

Compared to a plainweave, the slitweave process offers more freedom of expression with bolder, sharper patterns being created. You will see many different designs within a typical Kilim rug that are both geometric and floral in nature.

How Kilim Rugs are Used

There are many uses for Kilim rugs, starting with covering the floor which is their most common use. However, thanks to the weaving and material, the rugs themselves are quite strong and durable which means that they can be hung on the wall, used as coverings for benches and divans, and made into mule saddles or bags.

Once the Kilim rug is made, it can be used for a variety of different products thanks to its tight weave, strong material, and colorful patterns which makes each product unique. Because of their popularity, it’s common to see various bags and coverings that are made from this unique design.

In the end, Kilim rugs of good quality are well-worth the investment. A good Kilim rug is strong, beautiful, durable, and quite popular. With minimal maintenance and cleaning, they will last for a long time depending on the foot traffic or their use in terms of bags or bench coverings. Their unique construction and excellent design makes them a must-have for those who want a high-quality rug for their home.

Kazak Rugs

Kazak Rugs

Easily one of the most striking of all Oriental rugs, the Kazak rugs have been desired since their modernization during the 19th century. Thanks to their bold, powerful design, durable materials, and the prestige of owning such a beautiful rug, they have been highly prized. For much of this time, the Kazak rug could be found in palaces, churches, and in the homes of the elite. While some were placed on the floor, many were displayed on the walls thanks to their striking design.

Kazak rugs originated in a tribal region which is now modern Afghanistan. As with the history of many rug designs, it came from nomadic tribes that used the rugs for both practical and decorative purposes. For many years, the rugs were limited in availability to that part of the world.

Modern History of Kazak Rugs

The rug originates in the 11th century in Armenia and Afghanistan in an area that lies just south of the Caucasus. They were created by Turkish nomads who learned their craft from the Armenians who had been creating various types of rugs since at least the fifth century A.D. The Kazak rug is not associated with a particular tribe, but rather from the region in which it was created.

Crafted from high quality wool, these rugs became more sophisticated in the use of hand-knots which allowed for greater detail in terms of the design features and patterns. The rugs themselves have enjoyed considerably popularity as they spread across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe during the 1800s. By the 20th century, the rugs became categorized as Oriental rugs and had plenty of competition in the marketplace which led to them becoming somewhat obscure for a while.

During the 1980s, the rise of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan caused many refugees to flee into Pakistan. The result was that many of the weavers who resettled in the country brought their skills in creating Kazak rugs which started a revival of interest. That was augmented by the addition of new designs, materials, and colors that became available.

Creating a Kazak Rug

As with most Oriental rugs, the Kazak versions are hand-knotted. In fact, Kazak rugs have a high density of hand-knots compared to most Oriental rug designs. Basically, the more hand-knots in a rug, the sharper the design will be. This makes the motifs and decorations even sharper and more distinctive compared to many other rug designs.

A typical 8’ x 10’ rug requires almost 12,300 hours of labor which translates to over four years of work if you divide the labor into 8-hour days. You’ll find around 9,216,000 knots in a rug of that size. While this seems like an enormous amount of effort, the result is a rug that is highly decorative and durable, landing for many years with minimal maintenance and cleaning depending on how it is used. It’s also why Kazak rugs are so valuable and treasured.

The Kazak Motifs

What distinguishes this type of rug from its Oriental counterparts is the distinctive motifs. Consisting of characteristics noted for the tribe of the region along with compositions that are geometric in nature, the Kazak rugs offer many common patters along with animal representations. It’s quite common to see the following on a typical Kazak rug;

  • Medallions, Hooked Polygons, and Diamonds
  • Crosses and Rosettes
  • Various Birds, Animals, Trees, and People

To create the patterns, only straight lines are used because of the unique hand-knotted techniques that create the rugs themselves.

Addition of Colors

Until the resettlement of the weavers, the basic colors that were used included white, gray, and black along with a few red dyes. For the most part, the dyes came from natural, vegetable sources and remained the main source of colors until the turn of the 21st century when synthetic dyes became more available.

Afterward the resettlement, there was an explosion of colors that came from the Pakistan region which included rusty red, teals, ivories, and deep indigo blues. While it might be argued that the Afghan weavers were heavily influenced by their Pakistani counterparts, it’s also true that having access to new colors promoted changes in the appearance of the Kazak rugs.

You can see the difference in the types of dyes used in terms of natural and synthetic which have created a new wave of interested in the Kazak rug.

Care and Maintenance

Since the pile contained within the rug is relatively short when compared to most other Oriental rugs, the washing process tends to use ancient techniques. This means that the rug piles are cut short and the rug itself is stone washed, just like with jeans. The result is that the rug maintains its beauty and color while not being damaged as with a modern washing process.

Rugs that are used for decorative purposes and hanged from walls require little maintenance apart from the occasional dusting and washing. However, rugs that are on the floor and subject to foot traffic will require more dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning.

Popularity of Kazak Rugs Today

There is little doubt that Kazak rugs, which are made in Armenia, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan have become quite popular around the world. There are many reasons why they stand out, but arguably the most important is the unique design thanks to the numerous hand-knots involved. Add to this the color patterns and features which make them quite beautiful.

The rugs are noted for their durable, colorful design along with their pleasing aesthetic qualities. Kazak rugs offer a variety of styles, the most noted are Hamadan, Nahavand, and Shirvan. You can find them in abundance at the local marketplace that offers Oriental rugs and particularly those that specialize in the rugs from the aforementioned regions.

For those who are looking to purchase Kazak rugs, either to collect or use in their homes or offices, they are as tough as they are beautiful which makes them a good investment. Having a Kazak rug in the home demonstrates your taste in the right way.