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Distinguishing between Oriental Rugs and Other
Know Your Rug
There are ten basic rug types. Hand knotted rugs, dhurrie, kilim, soumac, chainstitch, needlepoint, hand tufted, rag rugs, machine made and wall-to-wall (cut-pile and berber).
As the consumer, you need to be informed. It is not unusual to walk into a Oriental Rug store to find that machine made and hand made rugs are both mixed within the piles. Beware of the online sellers who give little information regarding construction and origin of a rug both in store and online. Unfortunately, in recent years, we have observed too much misrepresentation of construction online, which is why we are here to inform you! The more familiar you are with determining quality, the more comfortable you will be in the rug selection process. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the types of rugs is to see as many as possible. Pay particularly close attention to the edge of the rug, as well as the reverse side.
IN GENERAL: Although newer hand knotted rugs have incorporated highlights of synthetic materials such as artificial silk, and machine made rugs can also be made of wool, if the seller states the PILE of the rug is made of: rayon, viscose, nylon, polypropylene, mercerized cotton or any other material, it probably is a machine made rug with exception to certain genres of carpets such as coarser quality Turkish pieces, and various Chinese carpets. For additional information, read on.
FOR IN HOME ASSESSMENT:
If your carpet features each of the four bold points below, it probably is a hand knotted "Oriental Rug." For further explanations, read and view all content at the bottom of the page.
- The design is the same on the front of the rug as it is on the back. Some "hand tufted" rugs have a canvas backing, although tufted rugs are hand made they are not hand knotted. A machine made carpet can have the same design on the front as the back... It may be an Oriental Rug.
- If the rug has fringe, the knots created to pull tassels together have minor inconsistencies in the manner they were created, it may be an Oriental Rug...
- The fringe goes into the rug, and is not affixed with precise [machined] stitches. A hand knotted carpet never has a machine fixed fringe. It may be an Oriental Rug.
- If the bound edging on either side of the rug (perpendicular to the fringe side) goes through the rug rather than "tacked" on with a precise [machined] stitch. In hand knotted rugs inconsistencies may be observable. It may be an Oriental Rug.
- If the rug has inconsistencies in knot height, and knot thickness which in turn show the lines horizontally or vertically are imperfect. Although some machine made manufacturers have perfected the art of imperfection, your rug may be an Oriental if it has minor imperfections.
- The rug is very malleable. This is one of the tougher tests to check, but accurate in 75% of cases (exception to rugs such as karastan and MasterCraft)... For rugs wider than 3 ft. wide, if you fold the rug from in half [from one corner] width wise and length wise, and it responds to your movement with a flop rather than as a rigid sheet, it may be an Oriental Rug.
If you passed the tests above in bold, check for these sometimes seen additional characteristics for further confirmation...
- Determine if the design is slightly off center: fold rug in half vertically to see if absolute center of medallion (or any other centered design element) lands on the fold, try the same horizontally. While the majority of oriental rugs will not have off-center medallions, if the medallion is slightly off-center, it's probably an Oriental Rug.
- Determine if the rug has imperfect squared angles in each corner: Either measure each side of the length and then each side of the width to check for discrepancies (only works if the rug is not a perfect trapezoid). For a better test, simply fold the rug again according to one line of the rug to follow such as the sides perpendicular to fringe and check for overlap or shortcomings anywhere around the rug. If the shape is slightly imperfect, it's probably an Oriental Rug.
- If the pile of the carpet is comprised of more than one type of fiber (e.g. wool and artificial silk), it is probably hand made. Although not all Oriental Rugs are made with multiple fibers in pile, usually the ones which are will either be hand knotted or hand tufted. These two are fairly easy to distinguish between, as a tufted rug will more often than not have a canvas backing. A machine made rug would use a blend rather than two different fibers in different locations of the carpet.
FOR INTERNET SHOPPERS:
Checking for Oriental rug authenticity over the Internet is not an easy thing to do as you must rely on the information presented to you. Always evaluate the reputation of the seller. Watch out for key terms with nondescript locations of origin. If a seller does not state where the carpet is from, proceed with caution! The advertising of a rug is not entirely unlike that of "Organic vs. Natural" at the food store.
TERMS USED IN SELLING
A true Oriental rug will almost always be referred to as: "hand knotted" or "hand woven".
A hand tufted rug (also made by hand) is often referred to as: "hand made" "tufted" "hand tufted" "hooked" or "hand hooked".
A machine made carpet is often referred to as: "man made" "power-loomed" sometimes stating composition is of "synthetic" fibers and of a "Persian design." Machine made rugs can also be made from wool!
Below is a list of many places imported hand knotted rugs have been / are being produced today...
Armenia, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, China, Egypt (also Machine made), Turkey, Iran, pakistan, India, Japan (until ~1970's), Nepal, Tibet, Romania, USSR, Morocco, Iraq, Portugal (Needle points)
All photographs in the following page are of the reverse side of the rugs with the length of the rug going from the top of the picture to the bottom, and the width of the rug going left to right.
Hand Knotted Rugs