One of the first entries we ever made was carpets which were markered on the front to disguise wear and 'revitalize' designs. In this post, we look at when markers are used on the back of a rug.
An old rule of thumb for purchasing an oriental rug is to look at the
reverse side: Is the back of the rug as crisp and clear as the front?
Not a horrible indicator in some instances (such as looking for starch and blocking), but in no way should it be considered among the top ways to judge a hand made
rug. Especially when it comes to Hamadan carpets and other single
wefted examples. Just because a carpet has wefts showing does not mean it should be written off. However, inconsistenty in distance between rows of knots in a newer rug found for a too-good-to-be-true price may be indicative of low oversight from exacting importers.
Outside of having markered wefts, the reason why we chose this carpet for demonstration was it exhibited two main factors which would make us deem it as a "seconds good": 1. Looser pile on the front as a result of loose weaving. 2. The pile was cut closer to the knot heads where the rug was looser.
What's seen below is an indo chobi carpet. A newer import from around
2000-2002. Looking at the back of the rug closer to the fringe, you
can see the green arrows identifying the natural color of the cotton
weft running horizontal. The red arrows are showing where the weft is
as well, however they're not white as they should naturally be. The
weft has been markered in these areas to match the color of adjacent
rows knots. For this particular piece, the wefts are most likely are visible for two main reasons: 1. handspun wool - by nature, handspun wool has varying gauge thickness whereby the row above or below may have varying thickness and height, making the rug somewhat inconsistent. 2. The manner in which the carpet was 'packed' post weaving while still on the loom - The rows of knots are sometimes poked into with a pointed tool, then packed up or down to shift the rows and reconstruct the shape tighter or looser in an attempt to compensate for any discrepancies in shape when it had been made.
In general, the most common reason to color the wefts on the back of a rug is to make the rug appear more consistent and presentable. In newer days of program
carpets (rugs available in the same design and
multiple sizes) vigilant mporters with stringent quality standards will
often turn down merchandise which cannot meet a consistent level of
expectation. Certain types of weaves where wefting appears in
scattered areas may have other implications: In extreme instances,
those of irregular shape, those which may not lay flat, or the need to have the carpet blocked and starched.
Bottom line, there's really no need to cover the wefting up. Although,
generally, more attentively made carpets made to more exacting
specifications should show even rows of knots with little variation.
Bottom line: Check to see if the rug has irregularity in shape, areas with seemingly more exposed warps on the back do not feel 'loose' on the front. Ensure the carpet has not been heavily starched. Hand made rugs are imperfect by nature, in regards to inconsistent weaves, the main objective is to get a rug where the inconsistencies have not compromised the integrity of the carpet, nor have any post production techniques applied.