I am wondering if you can help me out. I've recently purchased semi-antique Iranian rugs on ebay that seem too good to be true.
The wool appears of reasonable quality and even has a slight patina. The rug shows all the markings of a hand-woven rug to my eye, but both the price and uniformity of the weaving seem odd. The price seems too cheap - although many of these rugs have mild defects: uneven wear, a patch (not a repair), chemical fading, etc.
I've attached a photo. Overall the most striking thing is the uniformity of the weave. I have many older rugs, tribal and a few "master signed" and they sometimes are "wavy." When they are extremely uniform, I've been able to find pattern defects.
But the rugs I get from this merchant remind me of perfect stencils. The only thing I can surmise is that they were woven on metal looms in a factory consistent way or they are in fact power loomed and they've figured out some way to make them look hand knotted on the ends.
If these are hand made, can you tell me how they achieve such horizontal uniformity and why they sell so cheap?
Based on my limited knowledge, it looks like there are has been significant fading in this rug - I also notice lighter purples. I seem to recall someone saying that lighter purples can be the sign of a dye fading because of a chemical was or aniline dye or something like that.
I didn't see any bleeding so my assumption would be that this is a vegetable dyed rug that was chemically treated and has fading in time because of the original chemical treatment???
It also looked like there might be parallel green weft or am I seeing things?
So assuming it is man-made but had a chemical wash that has caused premature fading, what kind of longevity and value does this rug have? Is that why it was so cheap or did I just luck out?
You have a lot of excellent questions here, we will try and address all!
Yes, this is a hand knotted rug. It is from Iran. While it's not uncommon
for some sellers to be deceptive, intentionally or unintentionally. However, looking at
the weft, and the general arrangement of such, we can easily determine there
is no "faking" that this rug as being is hand knotted. It actually
is a true "Oriental Carpet".
Next, in line is the uniform nature of such a this carpet. How
come this rug is so square, and perhaps even hint to being a
machine made piece? Without judgment, this type of rug or carpet is what
would could be considered a "highly commercialized piece".
Produced perhaps in a city, there very likely was a great volume of such
rugs and similar pieces were probably produced within an informal
workshop. The objective certainly was to create an oriental rug, but
more so were produced with the intention of a lower price point, and destined for
world markets around the world. Perhaps more
specifically tailored for export to America.
The best and easiest ways to work on a large commercial scale would include
several things. As you mentioned, rigid looms would help. Perhaps
metal, but possibly even with secured and well squared wooden looms.
What also would add to the uniformity of an Oriental Rug such as like this would
include experienced weavers, in conjunction with
implementation of technology when and where available. Reducing the labor is also important importing. This brings us to the the refining of materials. Refinement
of wools would be left to machine milling. Spinning of yarn & cotton
in a machine mill yields a uniform, predictable, and evenly gauged
material. With all these factors combined: a rigid loom, experienced
weavers, milled materials, and other, the product rendered will have just
precisely the uniform features we see in your photographs. You are right
to question the "authenticity" of such a rug, but rest assured, this
is a hand knotted piece.
To address the dyes, which will also ties into the price point the rug was
purchased: In creating a rug for commercial appeal, dyes used would mostly be synthetic for the most part.
They are inexpensive, often very colorfast, although there are drawbacks to
some less widely understood dyes from this era.
Just as a side note, and generally speaking, both synthetic and natural dyes both have
potential to run. Color run has to do with two main things: one, poor
quality dyes (which has often been