Facts About Oriental Rugs
What many people do not realize is that not all expensive area rugs can truly be called Oriental rugs. "Oriental" defines the rug as being hand-knotted or hand-tied of wool from the Near, Middle, or Far East. Wool and sometimes silk are the natural fiber used in tying thousands of knots on an upright or horizontal loom to bring the rugs to completion. An Oriental rug's beauty is based on its color harmony and balance, design intricacy, clarity of design, texture, and the yarn patina. These are what give an Oriental rug an inviting, soft appeal.
There are presently two other ways of manufacturing and producing rugs:
Looming machines are the quickest production tool, producing Axminister or Wilton weaves. Face fiber is either a synthetic type or wool. Machine-made rug design styles are Traditional, Modern, Tropical, Arts & Craft, Tribal, and Southwestern.
Hand- or gun-tufting is the second-quickest way to produce rugs and is presently being done in China and India. Favorite designs center around Modern and Transitional. Frequently, tufted rugs are carved around their designs. Pile content is of wool and sometimes cotton.
Prices for rugs vary according to:
- Production Time
- Technical Design
- Weaving Difficulty
- Material Costs
If a rug is machine-made or of hand-tufted quality the terminology used should be "Oriental style" or "Oriental design," or it is misleading to the consumer.
Another way consumers are sometimes misled is when they are told that a rug design has artistic significance and meaning. We recommend you immediately respond by asking, "Is this a genuine hand-knotted Oriental rug where this is an important aspect?" If the rug is actually a reproduction rug (meaning an Oriental-style or an Oriental-design-type rug), this "design significance" discussion is strictly academic and very misleading -- certainly not adding to the monetary value of the rug.
As a consumer, it pays to educate yourself before buying an expensive rug. If a rug salesperson cannot or will not answer your questions, make it clear there will be no sale until you get answers to base your decision on.
Beware of buying so-called Oriental rugs at auctions, government seizures, and going-out-of-business sales. If a rug sale sounds too good to be true it usually is, so let the buyer beware! Don't be taken in by Oriental-rug hype.
Here are some interesting facts about rugs that not many people know.
It's purely a myth that an Oriental rug knotted finely by hand is better than a coarsely knotted one. In many rugs, such as tribal rugs, the larger, coarser hand-knotted Oriental rug complements their bold designs. These loosely hand-knotted woven rugs may also contain wonderfully pure colors and they can actually be of far greater value than rugs with a much finer knot count.
Also, we would like to debunk the myth that "the heavier the rug, the more durable it is." There are many variables: Wool pile lengths, yarn diameters, and number of plies are what determine the weight of the rug.
Do not believe anyone who tells you not to purchase a rug with synthetic or vegetable dyes because both could fade or run when wet. For many decades now, both synthetic and vegetable dyes have improved to the point where they are reliable, safe, and colorfast.
Should designs always be symmetrical and the borders perfectly straight and rectangular? No. This applies to traditional "city" woven rugs more than to nomadic and tribal rugs, because the knots of the latter were tied on portable looms that were often moved from place to place before the rug was finished.
All hand-knotted rugs have irregularities. You will need to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the particular irregularities are within reason and acceptable.
Well-made Oriental rugs nearly always increase in value. Historically rare, perfect, antique specimens hold their value and appreciate as time passes. But please — don't buy a rug as an investment — buy your Oriental rug because you fell in love with its beauty!