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.


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.


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.

Antique Rugs, Oriental Rugs

Tips for Buying an Oriental Rug

Given the number of types, the quality of design, and the conditions of Oriental rugs, knowing what to look for can make the difference between finding a bargain or getting far less than you paid. As with any product, you should know the basics in terms of how the rugs are made, what they generally sell for, and whether you should purchase a new rug to brighten up your home or an antique rug as an investment.

When you see rugs for sale, here are a few tips that will help you determine the quality of the Oriental rugs you are seeing and which one to purchase.

Get to Know Oriental Rugs

You do not have to become an expert, but it does pay to find out more about how Oriental rugs are made, which types are the most desired, and how to properly price ones that you find.

Terms: There are a few basic terms you need to know which will help you in talking to a dealer;

  • Central Medallion: This is the circle or diamond-shaped motif in the middle of the rug.
  • Field: The background of the rug
  • Fringe: The edge of the rug
  • Guard Stripes: The rectangle created around the inner and outer border area
  • Main Border: The area just inside the fringe
  • Pile Direction: The direction in which the rug was weaved from top to bottom

Creating the Rug: The rugs are created on a loom using strands of wool or cotton that are stretched from beam to beam. The weaver will make wefts or horizontal rows in-between the warps that bracket the sides of the rug. The warps are then tied together with a simple knot. To create a rug that is 6’ x 9’, it usually takes about six months.

Types: Remember that there are different types of Oriental rugs for sale, so you should be familiar with the types. Generally speaking, each type of rug is denoted by the region or tribe which makes it.

Keep in mind that each type will have a price range that varies about 20% depending on the dealer. So, if you see a rug that is well outside that price range, you should get an explanation as to why first before buying.

Purchase or Investment

Amid the many different types of rugs, there is a strong distinction between new and antique. A new rug is priced by the square foot while an antique is sold by the piece.

New Rugs: New Oriental rugs are quite beautiful thanks and offer a great decorative appeal. They are also long-lasting, so with a little care your purchase should last a long time. However, new rugs are not considered valuable like antiques, so you should not consider them long-term investments. This is because the demand and manufacture of rugs for sale is such that your purchase will not increase much in value over time.

Antiques: These are rugs which are at least several decades, if not centuries old. Most Persian rugs that are sold in the US are antiques because new ones have been forbidden from sale since the late 1970s. A good antique rug is quite valuable and will increase in value considerably over time, making them a strong investment.

However, there are less-than-honest dealers who might try to pass off a new rug for an antique one. There are a few tips to help you identify which is new and which is the real antique;

Dealer: Do you know and trust the dealer? Most dealers are reputable, but some may not be. Telling the difference may be difficult, but you can try to check out their background, especially if they are new to your community.

Repairs: A proper repair on an antique will almost not be noticeable. Look at the back of the rug to see if any repairs have been made. A repair on the back that is barely noticeable will not affect the value of antique rugs. However, obvious repairs and rugs with missing parts such as no border will affect the value considerably.

If something strikes you as being wrong, go ahead and check out the dealer and their track history with selling antique rugs. Be sure to ask questions and feel comfortable before you decide to invest in an antique rug.

Choose the Right Rugs for Sale

If you are looking for Oriental rugs that are new, then you should ask a few questions about those which you find interesting.

Location of the Wool: The best wools from New Zealand and Tibetan carpet wool. The wool is soft, but quite durable and will last a long time with minimal maintenance. Beware of wool that seems too soft and shiny as it may be chemically treated and inferior in most regards.

Knot Density: You’ll want to check out the density of the knots by pressing your fingers into the pile base. You can feel the number and density of the knots to know whether it is durable or not. A dense string of knots means that the rug will be quite durable. But if the knots are loose or give under gentle pressure, then the rug may start falling apart in a short time.

Trial Run: Just like giving a new car a spin before you buy it, many dealers will let you take the rug home for a day or two to see how it looks in your home. Make sure you see the rug in daylight and nighttime to ensure it’s the one for you.

Choosing from the many Oriental rugs for sale is no easy task, but you can avoid purchasing a bad rug if you know a little about how they are made, what to look for, and checking out the source. A dealer who has been doing business in your community for many years is a good place to find the best Oriental rugs. Just remember, when a deal sound too good to be true, it most likely is.