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Indian Rugs: Dating by Corner, Design Execution & Translation of Weaving to the Face of the Rug


In the early 1970's, importation from Iran became difficult as did quality control.  While India had a great deal of history weaving carpets, many importers saw potential in revitalizing what had been a slow product of India: Carpet weaving.  Designs which were conducive to Indian weavers (and in demand from the Western Markets) were often similar to Art Deco designs, Chinese Peking designs and several others.  These carpets were highly characterised by the very few number of colors implemented in weaving, simple designs, thick & coarse knots (often fewer than 36 kpsi), medium grade wool, and very thick, shaggy piles.  Many of these rugs were carved to accentuate design elements, however perhaps most notable on the subject of carpets circa 1970's vintage were the era specific colors.  While timeless colors such as blues and reds are a safe investment as they are not era specific, they tend to sell less as compared to popular in-style trends.  Many of the rugs imported from India were fairly inexpensive in comparison to authentic art deco and Peking rugs.  Due to the low cost and purchasing power of top importers, these carpets would have appealing retail prices allowing for high volume.  In the oriental rug business, with high turnover and designs/colors to meet demand, carpet designers could afford to be somewhat more advantageous with the colors being used in rugs.  A great deal of coarse quality Indian rugs from the early 1970's may be found to have predominant colors of baby blue, mint green, rust, ivory, gold, pink, and many other colors which would be considered borderline garish by today's standards.

Chindia Rug, Golds and Blues

As production continued, so did the slow evolution into more commercially available Persian Designs as seen below.  While this carpet has a much higher color count than the carpet shown above, what is worth noting is the lack of precise outlines and consideration for proper shearing height.  While shearing height may contribute to more pile clarity, it's worth noting that the designs used often were more advantageous than what would be considered appropriate for the knot count.  Note how many of the outlines below going vertically on the carpet (running up and down) show marked lack of straight arrangement. 

Indian Rug from the late 1970's


Early to Mid 1980's 

In the early 1980's, more refined weaving techniques were seen imported to the American Market.  Weavers and rug cartoonists (those who map designs prior to production) began to hone into their trade with much more attention to detail.  Many of the brightly colored rust, gold and bright pink rugs of the 70's seemed to disappear with the decade itself.  The previous mindset of "thicker is better" vanished as well, for carpets coming from India, while still fairly thick-piled, hardly ever exceeeded 5/8" in pile height as opposed to the 3/4+" pile height of the 70's.  design execution was becoming much more widely understood by weavers, and carpets began to take on a more "authentic Persian look."  A great deal of this had to do with the shutting down of imports from Iran, which in turn gave India a fighting chance to rise to the markets.  Colors used in Indian weavings in the early to mid 1980's were often a deep tone of pastel coloring with offset from many other colors with a jewel-tone. Also worth noting is the length of the fringe as shown below, which is almost double the length of most any other weaving country.

Indian Rug 1980's Joshegan Design 

Quality of wool also improved.  Earlier weavings in the 1970's often meant Indian weavers would need to use native sheep.  As time progressed, and knot density became a more important element to final appearance, finer quality wool also needed to be implemented in order to match specifications for finer weavings. 

80's Indian Rug with Tribal Pattern

Kerman Design Peach Indian Rug

Indian Rug with Holbein Design

Photo Above: Similar to the image two photographs up, the length of the fringe in this weaving is ulmost unmatched from any other country.  


Mid to Late 1980's 
The understanding of Curvelinear designs really started to show in the later part of the 1980's.  Proper knot count, design execution and the balance of proper shearing height was very good by this time.  Colors of which were used in carpets trended more toward the safer, timeless colors of reds, blues and ivory.  Many pastels which had previously dominated fields and borders started to mingle into "topical" or outlining / small fill-ins of design elements.  

Indian Rug with Kashan Design

Indian Rug with Persian design

If you take a look at the kilim on the rug as photographed below, there are two very small bands of yarn which have been woven into the kilim just above the actual fringe.  This is a technique which is most common to Indian rugs, however is seen in rugs from other origins as well. 

Indian Rug with old Persian Tabriz design

Some weavers even started venturing into somewhat uncharted territory of different loom orientation.  As seen below, this is a bokhara design carpet with a symmetrical knot with no offset.  The same type of knot is used in other Indian rugs at this time, however the way in which the knot looks on the back is much different, as you see both sides of the symmetrical knot, whereas in other weavings you would simply see one side (the other would behind the visible side). 

Indian Bokhara design

Indian Rug with American Sarouk Persian design


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Inexpensive: Take a look at Kilim Rugs up for bid on eBay!
Inexpensive: Take a look at Kelim Rugs up for bid on eBay!
Moderately priced: Take a look at Kelim Rugs up for bid on eBay!
Moderately priced: Take a look at Kilim Rugs up for bid on eBay!


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