Oriental Rugs still desirable, and why are they considered by some to be expensive? The exact origin of rug weaving is unknown, but the oldest pile-woven rug dates back at least 2500 years. “The Pazyryk carpet was excavated in 1949 from the grave of a Scythian nobleman in the Pazyryk Valley of the Altai Mountains in Siberia. Radiocarbon testing indicated that the Pazyryk carpet was woven in the 5th century BC.” Try doing that math!
Antique Pazyryk Carpet Courtesy of Wikipedia
Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, and Iran are among the largest exporters of oriental rugs. Often these rugs feature traditional styles and designs, and chosen carefully, they can enhance or set the stage for an interior design scheme. Before construction begins, let’s look at colors. Weavers use blue or indigo, green, yellow, red, rose, white and ivory as the main colors. These colors also represent various aspects of emotions or society.
For instance, red is for happiness and courage, blue is for honesty or solitude, and brown represents earth and soil. Directional lines create shapes that can repeat symmetrically or asymmetrically, similar to fabrics. Harmony is the key and these weavers know what they are doing. Remember, this artform began in the 5th century BC.
The fibers consist of mostly wool, while some include silk, which adds incredible luster and increases the cost. However, rugs that contain silk, are best placed in low foot traffic areas. If mostly silk, either use it in the bedroom or hang it on a wall. Weavers usually use cotton for the base (foundation), known as the “warp and weft”, and you will find rugs with pure silk or wool foundations, as well. The warp is the vertical and the weft is the horizontal. Antique and vintage rugs produced before 1856 use natural dyes:
- Madder root creates red/orange
- Indigo plants create blue
- Larkspur creates pale yellow/brown
- Oak bark creates brown
- Oak tree galls create black
- Larkspur combined with indigo produces green
- Insect secretions and carapace creates reds and purples
Construction of the knots begins with the warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) as the base and is usually cotton or wool. The knots can be ghiordes, jufti, kilim/flatweave, or Senneh. Next, the detailed weaving begins, using hundreds, sometimes thousands of yarns together to form a pattern or design. The warp threads become the fringe at the top and bottom. In some villages, a cartoon or drawing is what the weaver works from. The over and under the process of weaving is what forms the number of knots per square inch.
In addition, the more knots a rug has, the higher the quality, and the denser the pile. A high-quality woven rug will look exactly the same on the reverse in terms of the pattern. If you are shopping by auction or outside of a reputable establishment, examine the backside. The pattern (not the sheen) should look exactly like it does on the front. If it looks too different from the front, move on to another rug, or maybe another rug gallery. Next, examine the warp threads (horizontal). This forms the rug foundation that terminates with a fringe and should be an extension of the rug ends.
Know the terminology. Hand-knotted is not the same as hand-tufted. Hand-tufted rugs employ someone to (tuft) punch a design into a canvas backing stretched behind a stencil. This process does not require much training, and you have no investment potential. What is the point of that? The lifetime of a hand-tufted rug is about seven years, or less depending on use, while hand-knotted rugs have an average lifespan of 50 years.
Style, Pattern, & Color
Depending on the room design, and the furnishings the rug will make or break the final reslult. I prefer less of a clash in patterns and it all depends on how it all looks together. Differing patterns and motifs can look great together as long as there is some common denominator that ties them all together. I personally like the look of the Kazak. In ancient times, Kazak rugs represented luxury, prestige, warmth, comfort and were highly regarded status symbols in elite class homes.
These rugs were originally woven with gold and silver strands between the warp and weft threads. They were placed in churches, palaces and within homes of the elite class. Rugs were most often used as floor coverings but they also hung from walls and placed on the throne or at the feet of the king. Kazak rugs are well-recognized for their striking aesthetic, durability and highly saturated naturally-dyed color tones, and have long been collected for their rugged authenticity.
Before what was called a resettlement, Afghan weavers only had access to; black, white, gray, and deep red dyes. After the resettlement, additional colors like deep indigo blues, jewel-toned teals, ivories, and the classic rusty reds became popular. Once dyed with pure vegetable dyes, after the year 2000 synthetic dyes became the norm.
In answer to the second question, it takes manpower and skilled craftsmanship, and time to weave a “work-of-art.” There is no push-the-internet button and receive it in three or four days (instant gratification). This is an era that I foresee coming to an end because many people will soon realize that throwing away their money on so many disposal goods and design, not only takes its toll on one’s bank account, it’s not good for the planet either.
The higher the knot count, the more the rug will cost. It is why Persian rugs are expensive. Higher knot counts are what create lasting investment value and durability over its lifetime. Good hand-made rugs also hold their value well, while some greatly appreciate in value. Finally, there is one important factor that you cannot ignore; individuality. These rugs add a layer of art, history, and elegance to a room with fine hardwood flooring that is different from any other method. You certainly won’t walk into your neighbor’s home and see your rug on their floor. Contact me and let’s work together to find the perfect rug for your home.