Rug School: A Brief Introduction to Persian and Oriental Rugs
In order to be classified as an authentic oriental rug, the rug must
be hand woven or hand knotted of natural fibers, usually wool, but
sometimes cotton or even silk. Depending on the size of the
rug it can take several months or even years to complete. An oriental rug's pile
makes it unique.
Weaving is one of the most ancient arts in the world. The
specific origin of rugs are unknown but rug fragments have shown
that weaving existed as early as the 5th century BC. Evidence of this is the Pazyrk carpet.
In the Summer of 1949 a team of Russian archeologists, led by
Sergei Rudenko, opened an ice tomb in a highland valley in the Altai
Mountains in Siberia. There, they discovered what was to become
the worlds most famous pile rug. Today this rug is kept in
the State Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg.
became important in rug trading in 16th century because
of commerce passing though the famous Silk Road; a 7,000 mile trade route that
spanned China, central Asia, North India, and the Parthian and Roman empires.
There are two prevailing theories regarding the origin of
Persian rugs: Nomadic peoples providing a means of protection from the elements;
and craftsmen creating works of art for decoration.
We can categorize weavers into three groups:
Nomadic: Typically these rugs are made of wool with few colors,
patterns are either geometric or simple, stylized floral design.
Horse hair or goat maybe used on these edges, which are
usually irregular in shape.
Village: Those who live in agricultural communities are usually female
weavers who weave a Persian rug as a supplementary income to their
City: Urban rugs are generally woven in large workshop settings with numerous
looms, and more than one weaver work per rug. These rugs are
the most intricately designed rugs. Up to 50 colors may be used
in these rugs.
Designs of a Persian rug are named after the city and the locale in
which they were made. Here are five sections of geographical
Northeastern: Khorasan, Turkaman, Balush, Birjand, Mashhad
Northwestern: Heriz, Tabriz, Serapi
Central: Bakhtiar, Isfahan, Kashan, Lilihan
Western: Bidjar, Kermanshah, Sarouk
Southern: Kerman, Laver, Qashqai, and Khamseh
In a Persian knot, the supplementary weft yarn passes behind one
wrap yarn, and the two ends emerge on either side of a wrap
yarn. The Persian knot is also known as "Senneh"
knot. These knots have an asymmetrical structure.
In a Turkish knot, a weft yarn passes around both wrap threads,
and the loose ends are drawn tightly. The Turkish knot is also
referred to as the "Giordes" knot. These knots have a
There are several factors that contribute to price of a Persian
One way to measure quality of the workmanship on a Persian rug is by
counting the number of knots per square inch. A rug that has
80 knots per square inch and under is to be consider a course type
of rug. Any rug between 80 to 150 is to be considered medium
quality. Any rug above 150 is considered a fine carpet.
Quality of wool and cost of materials
There are approximately 1000 breeds of sheep, but only a few types
provide the wool used for carpet weaving. The shoulder wool is
the longest and most expensive. It provides superior strength,
resilience, softness, and durability. Often the wool from
different breeds of sheep is blended together to
reduce the cost of carpet.
The type of wool used in the rug has a profound effect on durability.
A drier wool (market wool) tends to wear out
faster and absorb stains more readily. On the other hand wool
rich with lanolin, which is oil found naturally in the wool, will
last longer, is more resilient, and absorbs the dye better to produce
a wider variety in color. It also cleans much easier than a
drier wool because the lanolin acts as a repellent; the way oil does
Design has a direct affect on a price of Persian rug. The more
complex the design is, the more time will consume to make it.
It also requires more highly skilled weavers.
Persian rugs tend to have around 18 to 50 colors. A rug with more
color tones will likely cost more than a rug using a few colors.
There are three types of dyes used for dying wool yarns.
Natural dyes are the oldest and derive from animal or vegetable
sources. Natural dyes are very expensive today and are hardly used
anymore. Aniline dyes were very acidic and faded in sunlight,
and are no longer used. Chrome dyes are synthetic and were
developed to give a wider range of color as well as to produce a
colorfast products. These modern dyes are bonded to the wool
with potassium bicarbonate, which makes the wool resist fading and
does not harm the wool.
Cost of Labor
Since Persian rugs are handmade and require several months to
weave, cost of labor is the biggest factor in pricing of the
rug. Village rugs tend to cost less than city rugs due to cost
of living. Similarly, rugs made in different countries
have different prices. For instance, a Persian design carpet
copied in China is considerably cheaper than the original Persian
Another big factor on pricing the Persian rugs is the age. For
example in, 1920's the cost of an 8 X 10 Sarouk rug from Persia was
between $300 - $400. The same carpet kept in a good condition
today has a value of $15,000 - $20,000.
Hand-knotted rugs are more expensive than any other type
of rugs due to the time and skill required to produce them.
It is always good to use padding between the rug and the floor. A
good quality pad reduces the wear and tear on the underside of the
rug, makes it almost impossible for the rug to slip and slide
beneath your feet, and makes the rug much softer to walk on.
When choosing a pad, one must consider several factors such as if
furniture will be placed on top of the rug.
Use a high-quality, non-skid, underlay pad if your rug rests on hardwood, tile, or hard-surfaced flooring. This will
keep your rug in place and allow the rug to breath. When using rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting your Oriental rug
starts wrinkling or bunching up, a special pad can be placed between your rug and the carpeting. This will correct
Vacuuming the rug once a week will restore life to the rug fibers.
When vacuuming the rugs, one must be careful not to vacuum
against the nap of the rug because this presses dirt back into the
foundation. Avoid vacuuming the fringe unless you are using the
floor attachment, not the beater bar; continued catching of the
fringe in the suction of a vacuum causes it to break or tear.
For best results, always vacuum with low-level suction and use a
Sweeping and Blotting
Sweeping oriental rugs with a broom is the best way to remove
loose dirt. It should be swept at least once a week to help
bring out the natural patina in the fiber. To care for rugs
that are displayed on walls, simply brush them lightly once or twice
a month. Blotting is the best way to prevent a spill from
turning into the stain. Always attack spills immediately,
using clean towels to blot as much moisture as possible. Begin
at the outer edge of the spill and work inward. Never rub the
spill because that will make it spread. Solid spills should be
scooped up before blotting the area. Whenever you clean a
spill, it is essential that you finish the process by brushing the
nap back in the direction of the other pile, otherwise, that area
will always be noticeable.
Spills of virtually any kind may be removed without permanent stain
if they are treated immediately. Particularly in the case of
pet urine, be sure to dilute the spill by saturating the area with
water. Then, use towels to blot the area. After cleaning is complete,
be sure to use a fan to dry the underside of the rug as well as the pile.
Has your rug been cleaned in the past three years? Wool rugs vary due to the amount of traffic received and the
location that they are used in. Some need cleaning sooner than others. Remember, lack of
proper maintenance will contribute to a potential loss in the value
of your investment.
After five years of use, all Oriental wool rugs are ready for professional, thorough deep washing. For special
cleaning of a wool rug, send your rug to us. We will clean it on both sides including the fringe. We will
moisturize, rejuvenate, and revive the wool. We also inspect your rug for needed repairs and notify you of any
damage or problems that you may not have noticed.
Learn more about our cleaning services...
Never use standard carpet cleaning companies to clean fine
oriental rugs! Commercial methods of cleaning use steam and
chemicals that may damage or destroy rugs. Steam will melt and
strip essential lanolin from the wool fibers, and dry chemicals will
burn the wool and damage the colors. In addition, most of the
damaging dirt remains deep in dense wool piles because commercial
cleaning companies do not vacuum effectively. The remaining
dirt, combined with foot traffic, will causes the rug to wear out
from the bottom up.
To insure even wear; the oriental rug should be rotated about once a
year. Depending on the traffic, the rotation may vary from six
months to two years. You should rotate your rug from sunny
areas of the room to the other side of the room to equalize the
effect of the sun. Continual exposure to direct or even
indirect sunlight can cause fading of the dyes used in your rug.
Moths can cause permanent damage to the rugs. Not only do
moths eat the pile, but they also eat the knots on the back of the
rug. Moth problems are usually caused when rugs are in damp
areas with limited air circulation. Adequate air circulation,
elimination of excess moisture, and proper storage are the best
safeguards against moth damage.
Before storing an oriental rug be sure that it is moth-free,
otherwise, permanent damage can occur to the stored rug. Then select
a dry, cool place where you can store the rug, either rolled or
flat. If you opt to store the rug rolled, don't leave it
rolled for more than a couple of weeks because deep creases may
result. If your rug will be stored flat, place it on a piece
of plastic large enough to encase the entire rug. Sprinkle the
rug with camphor powder and then seal the edges once the plastic is
wrapped around the rug.
From time to time, one may wish to move a rugs to another room.
If furniture has left indentations on your rug, all you need to
do is spray the area with water and lift the crushed pile by
brushing it upward. Be sure to end the brushing process in the
nap direction of the rug. Use a brush with coarse bristle
instead of a fine, sharp-bristled brush so the ends of the pile will
be less likely to fray.