If you have arrived at this page, it is dual purpose information intended for education and the use of our Rug Estimator Pro.
For White Knots, please see "Purchasing Decisions"
What is a "painted carpet"?
A "painted" carpet is one in which at least one color has been manipulated post-production. While all carpets have dyed fibers, "painted rugs" have been woven and then manipulated afterwards to enhance colors. Antique/tea washed carpets to not fall into this category. The aim of painting a carpet's pile is to make the carpet more desirable by accommodating for changes in the demand for particular shades. The practice of painting carpets was particularly prevalent in the case of American Sarouk carpets designed for the Western markets of the 1920's - 1950's (Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 below).
How is the rug painted?
While the carpet is laid out flat, the "painter" applies a concentrated liquid pigment through the face of the rug. In most cases the goal is to augment or enhance one specific color, however there may be two or three colors altered. In some cases the painted area is as large of a canvas as the entire field of a rug. In other cases the targeted areas are fine details.
What to look for...
To avoid color run or bleeding common with liquids applied to absorbent fibers, the painter usually avoids areas with lighter outlines while he may venture into the safer dark areas. Although the obvious intention is to evenly distribute the pigment, it is not uncommon to find that dye is concentrated heavily in "safe" areas and used sparingly in areas where it can potentially affect detailed outlines. This is to say, you may notice more of a halo effect around the finer details where the field may show "blotchy" or darker areas where there was higher concentration of color (see Figures 1 and 2). By peeking through the pile to the knot head you should be able to see both the dyed color as well as the original color with the latter being closer to the knot-head. You should also be able to see an obvious color difference from the back to the front of the carpet (with the original color on the back and the dyed color on the front). These types of inconsistencies are telltale signs of painting.
Figure 1: Persian "American" Sarouk (~mid-1940's)
In the photo above, the green arrow shows an area which has been avoided by the painter, leaving a double outline of the intended lighter beige outline and then the unintentional, inconsistent pink border (original field color exposed). The blue arrow points to an area in which the dye has run into the detail work (undesirable effect). If you look closely you can see several other areas with these types of charming "mistakes." This carpet is a full-pile Sarouk which exhibits typical and acceptable painting. For purposes of the appraisal tool, select "Subtle Painted Sarouk." If this carpet were worn, evidence of poor painting or more obvious flaws would appear however for this example, it is not the case.
Figure 2: close up of Figure 1
Here we see a close-up of the avoided area and "double outline" or "halo" effect. This will be more obvious on a carpet with worn pile.
The photo below (Figure 3) shows the exact same area on the back of the carpet. Notice that the "mistakes" are not seen at all. This is because the dye has not seeped past the knot-heads.
Figure 3: back of carpet seen in Figure 1 & 2
Subtle Painted American Sarouk (Iran)
If your carpet is a full-piled Sarouk such as the one photographed above, it may not exhibit obvious inconsistencies in the dye. For purposes of the Estimator Tool, use this selection. See above Photographs
Obvious Painted American Sarouk (Iran)
Unless the carpet is a very poorly dyed full-piled rug, post-production painting may not be obvious. For purposes of the Estimator Tool, you may find a heavily worn painted rug will expose a stronger "halo" effect around details in the field. The reason for this being that as the carpet is progressively worn, the "halo" will become thicker as dyes typically are less concentrated around details.
The carpet photographed below is an example of a poorly painted sarouk. Notice the yellow arrows pointing at "blotchy" coloring in the field. The green arrow is pointing at the "halo" effect, which dominates too far into the field. It is possible that if this rug had a full pile, it could be considered a well painted rug, however, showing as it is, and for purposes of the Estimator Tool, call this a "Obvious Painted Sarouk."
Figure 4: Persian Sarouk "Mohajeran" (~late 1920's)
The carpet photographed above is an example of a poorly painted Sarouk. Notice the yellow arrows pointing at "blotchy" coloring in the field. The green arrow is pointing at the "halo" effect, which dominates too far into the field. It is possible that if this rug had a full pile, it could be considered a well painted rug, however, showing as it is, and for purposes of the Estimator Tool, call this a "Obvious Painted Sarouk."
The photograph below (Figure 5) is the same as the one pictured above. The green arrows demonstrate the heavy halo around the detail in the carpet's field.
Figure 5: close up of Figure 4
Other Painted Rugs
See descriptions above from "Subtle Painted American Sarouk (Iran)" for similar application.
Other Obvious Painted Rugs