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An informative guide from Gallery of Oriental Rugs
If you’re in the market for a handmade Oriental rug, you should know as much as possible about what you’re planning to buy. The more sophisticated you are about the subject of Oriental rugs, the more you’ll get for your money. And the greater will be your appreciation of the time, effort and workmanship that went into your purchase. And the romance and history behind your own personal work of art.
So here, courtesy of Safavieh Carpets is a guide to help you get the best value and most pleasure out of the beautiful Oriental rug that will soon grace a floor or wall in your home.
Learn the basics of construction.
An Oriental rug is made on a frame called a loom. Columns of thread are stretched from the top to the bottom of the loom. Each column is called a warp. Once the warps are arranged up and down the loom, the weaver makes sideways rows. To do this, he merely takes a thread and passes it over the next until he comes to the end of the loom.
After making about 10 rows across he warps and pressing the rows close down to each other, the weaver is ready to do his main job. Using a piece of wool, he ties one or two warps together to the next one or two warps in the same row, and makes a knot.
The weaver works meticulously, knot by knot, row by row until he completes a magnificent, hand crafted Oriental rug-one that may very well find its way into a showroom like Safavieh Carpets.
Learn what happens before weaving begins.
A weaver can only start his job after a design has been created. He needs to know the color of the wool (or silk) he must use for each individual knot.
So first a design is conceived by a master designer. Then the design is plotted out in color on graph paper, with one square on the paper equal to one knot on the rug. This serves as the weaver’s guide.
Learn how to tell a handmade rug from one made by machine.
If you’re planning on spending thousands or even tens of thousands on your purchase, you’re obviously going to buy a rug made by hand, not one that’s been made by machine. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile knowing how to distinguish between the two.
A surefire way to tell the difference is by looking at the pile. Pile is the name for the strands of material that stand above the base of the rug. Spread the pile apart and look down. If you see knots at the bottom of the pile, the rug was made by hand. It’s that simple.
Just for the record, there’s also a sharpness and clarity to the design of a handmade product that can never be duplicated in a machine made rug. Also, the fringes are sewn on to either end of a machine-made rug.
Learn about the various names given to Persian and Oriental rugs and what they signify.
Tabriz, Kashan, Mashed, Heriz, Bokhara, Qum, Isfahan, Sarouk, Kerman. These names tell you where a rug was made. And a lot more besides. Because different areas are noted for different kinds of designs-florals, medallions, scenes or geometric patterns. Weavers in those various locations use different kinds of knots and differing numbers of knots per square inch. And use different kinds of wool or combinations of wool and silk. And of course, one of the highly knowledgeable people at the Safavieh showrooms will be delighted to show and tell.
Test the knotting.
Make sure it is strong, tight and absolutely impossible to pull out.
Count the number of knots per square inch. Bring along a ruler, measure off an inch on the back of the rug, and start counting. The square of the number of knots you count will give you the number of knots per square inch.
The more knots per square inch, the more exact, defined and intricate the picture or pattern. Exquisite museum-quality pieces may have as many as 1,000 knots per square inch and take ten years to make. Additionally, the more knots per square inch, the better and more durable the rug. For the knots help reinforce each other and reduce overall wear.
However, you must remember that a variety of other factors beside the number of knots per square inch determine what makes one rug worth more than another.
Study your décor. Know the size of your room or wall.
It will help you know what to look for.
Expect your rug to last more than one hundred years.
Fine Oriental rugs can take an incredible amount of wear. With proper vacuuming and maintenance, your rug will last into the twenty-first century. Your great-grandchildren will enjoy it as much as you do.
Buy on a trial basis only.
Seeing a rug in a showroom is not the same as seeing a rug in your home. The rug may not match your décor as well as you thought. Or may simply not please you. In any event, make sure you can get your money back. Safavieh Carpets sells all its Persian and Oriental rugs on a trial basis.
Deal with a reputable, long established firm.
Safavieh has been in business since 1914.
Buy from a company that is able to maintain your rug.
Your Oriental rug should be checked periodically for moth damage, fringe damage, stains and could become permanent, etc.
Expect to pay more for an Oriental or Persian rug than for broadloom.
Fine Oriental or Persian rugs are not cheap. But they offer exceptional value because of their durability.
Buy a book on the lore of Persian rugs. Or get one from the library. Or listen to some tales in person.
Persian rugs have been made for about 3,000 years. There are many fascinating stories about them. The Donnell Library, right across from the Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street, has several reference texts on the subject. If you want to purchase a book, we suggest "The Splendor of Persian Rugs" by E. Grans-Ruedin. Or if you’d like to hear some legends word-of-mouth, ask any one of our knowledgeable sales people who will be helping you.
Buy for pleasure, as well as investment.
Yes, Oriental and Persian rugs have increased substantially in value. Yes, we live in inflationary times. Yes, you probably will sell your rugs for a profit in the future. But the first reason for buying a fine rug is for enjoyment…the increase in value should not be your motivation.
Suppose you want more help or information.
If you’d like to know more about anything that pertains to Oriental rugs, we will be happy to be of service. We are open seven days a week, so you can come into any of our conveniently located showroom.