I have seen a Persian rug on which one end has a closed fringe and the other end is open fringe (like ordinary fringe). Is that a defect or is it ok to buy the rug?
Hello thanks for writing in,
All else equal, given the rug has no other unseen conditional issues, what you have described would not be considered a "defect" per se.
What you've accurately described as an "open" vs. "closed" fringe is not atypical in certain Persian and Oriental rug weavings. This is most commonly found at the bottom of a rug, the first portion to be woven prior to the weaver starting the actual pile. It may be found at both ends, although a closed fringe at the bottom and open at the top is more typical in larger sizes. Some say this is a technique done more commonly with smaller rugs when one is woven after another on the same loom, in which instances may be found at either top or bottom. From our understanding in Persian they sometimes call this "Pallas" which translates to "no pile."
Here are a few examples from our stock images.
Below: Although a somewhat more unique rug (antique silk heriz), the finishing of the fringe is not atypical of many production pieces from rug weaving countries. We're actually looking at the reverse side of the rug. Notice how several warp threads (running vertical through the rug) have been carefully tied into knots to finish what may accurately be described as "open fringe".
Below: An antique Zuli Sultan rug from around 1900 (from the front of the rug). Note how the end of the rug, or fringe, is "solid" or "closed". This is often referred to as the skirt or kilim (referring to a "flat-woven" portion). It's a sometimes found in select rugs such as Mahals, Lilihans, Hamadans, Qashqai, Qum rugs, etc. This is a flat weave technique somewhat similar to the construction of how the pile of the rug is made, simply excluding knots: Creating a closed fringe is done by weaving a weft between warps to give it this tightly woven band at the end of a rug.
Below: An antique silk kashan looking from the face of the rug at the fringe. Notice how this example has both a "skirt" or closed fringe in conjunction with an open fringe. This particular piece may have had a solid flatwoven, closed fringe at one point, which may have been partially opened.
Whether or not there should be concerns about this is would be require some discretion. While it's not an entirely unusual, some prefer to have fringe in the traditional sense. As seen in the Kashan example above, sometimes these are unravelled by repair specialists or the weaver to form a partial fringe, but this depends on the length of the woven portion and whether or not there is enough material to still be properly secured. What is important to note, is that if the skirt is loosely woven as the Qum Rug to the right, this may create additional problems down the road. As you can see, the Qum rug has a loosely "closed" end with open areas: this potentially could lead to pulls, which may be easily disrupted if something were to catch on it.
To wrap this all up, while not detrimental from a "value" perspective, you may want to carefully inspect both ends. As previously noted, if the closed end is somewhat loose, this may need additional care and preparation prior to use. Alterations and prep pre-use can come at a bit of a price, but the end which is open should be properly secured: Either with carefully fitted knots immediately following the pile of the rug, a short flatwoven area with fringe, or with a technique known as "overcasting". One of the biggest problems with rugs as they age is the loss of knots at either end. This can severely impact the value... So it's important to have the ends given attention needed before it's too late.
Thanks for bringing this question to us. If you have any additional concerns, feel free to comment below.
- Rug Rag
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For all those interested in submitting a question to the Rug Rag Editors: We'd be more than happy to help, please send some photographs of the reverse side of the rug very close up with a quarter placed on the knots, plus a picture of the fringe, the whole face of the rug and detail shot of the pile. If the rug is worn, please include photographs of worn areas. For rugs of any age, please be sure to check for dry areas, moth damage, odor, and whether or not the rug is straight/has right angles where called for. If you have any questions about our assessment request feel free to send us an email. Otherwise, we are looking for something similar to these images posted here.
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