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Among the most striking decorative enhancements, Oriental rugs have always provided elegant ways of softening cold and unyielding floor surfaces, making them warm and luxurious additions to any room.

Construction of Oriental Rugs

The loom on which the weaving and knotting are done is basically a wooden frame across which yarn can be stretched from beam to beam. The threads of yarn that are stretched from the upper beam to the lower beam (vertically) are called warp threads, while the horizontal threads that are woven in and out across the warp from side to side are called weft.

There are two types of looms: the flat or horizontal loom, and the upright or vertical loom. With the flat loom, which was used by nomadic tribes for it's portability, the loom sits flat on the ground in front of the weaver. The warp threads are fastened to upper and lower beams, which are held in place by stakes driven into the ground. With the vertical loom, the weaver sits facing the loom which is standing upright built of a rigid framework. In either case balls of colored yarn are at the ready to be woven into the rug. To do this, the weaver takes a strand of wool from a ball of the desired color, and ties it across a pair of warp threads. The ends of the knots are then trimmed with a small knife. After each row of knots has been completed, one or more weft threads are woven in and out of the warp threads. A heavy metal comb is used to hammer the weft thread down hard on the knots so they are packed tightly. As this process is repeated across the width of the carpet, the pattern of the rug emerges. The weaver repeats this process hundreds upon hundreds of times to complete a rug.

A final trimming is given the pile after the entire rug has been completed. The sides of the rug are secured by taking the last few warp threads and wrapping them tightly with an extra overcasting of the woollen yarn, while the ends of the rug are finished by knotting together pairs of warp thread so that they create the fringe at each end of the rug.

Materials used in Oriental Rugs

The three most important materials in the weaving of Oriental rugs are cotton, silk, and wool. Occasionally flax, goat, and camel hair are utilized. Synthetic materials are used in some of the machine made rugs today.

The warp and weft threads of most rugs woven in China, India, and Pakistan are cotton. Knots can be tied tighter to a cotton warp, resulting in a more closely woven rug. Rugs made with a cotton warp and weft are heavier than those made with wool, therefore they lie flatter on the floor and will not walk or move as much. Silk rugs are woven in Cashmere and China.

The silk pile may be woven on either a cotton or a silk foundation. The most finely knotted carpets are usually woven with silk warp threads.

Wool varies from region to region. Many factors affect the texture, color, quality, and durability of wool. The breads of sheep, the climate, and the time of year in which the wool is shorn are the main factors. Sheep raised in the mountains, for example, have heavier and thicker wool than sheep raised in the desert.

Knots used in Oriental Rugs

There are two types of knots, the Turkish (Ghiordes), and the Persian (Senna) knot. Turkish knots are tied around two warp threads in such a way that the two ends of the knot come out between the warps. The Persian knot is wound in and out around two warp threads so that a single end alternates with a single warp all the way along the row. The Turkish knot is slightly more secure, while the Persian knot is somewhat better adapted for fine knotting, creating a close pile. The Jufti, or false, knot is simply a Turkish or Persian knot tied to four warps of thread instead of two. By using this knot, a carpet may be woven with half the number of knots, in half the time. Therefore pile density is halved and the result is a rug with less resistance to wear.

A skilled workman can tie about ten thousand knots in a day. A carpet of 11x25 feet woven with 800 knots per inch would have approximately 31.6 million knots in it. Four skilled weavers would take about 2 years to tie that many knots. Beating down and adjusting the loom and the end stops would add about another year to complete this rug.

The finer and denser the knotting, the better the quality of the carpet. The ideal luxury carpet should be one that has a high knot count and is clipped very short.

Dyes used in Oriental rugs

Before the weaving and knotting can begin, the yarn has to be prepared in various ways. It must be spun, washed, and dyed. THe art of dyeing is very important. There are three types of dyes that have been used in the dyeing of Oriental rugs. These are: natural vegetable and animal dyes, aniline dye, and chrome dye.

Natural dyes are derived from a number of different sources. Some examples of which are:

Madder red: root of madder plant
Cochineal red: cochineal insect
Yellow: weld, vine leaves, pomegranate peel
Brown: walnut shells, oak bark
Orange: henna leaves
Blue: indigo plant
Green: combination of weld and indigo

The finer the knotting, the more colors are needed to achieve a well graded design free from monotony.

Designs of Oriental Rugs

Designs fall into two different categories: curvilinear and rectilinear. Curvilinear designs have floral motifs and patterns, with curved outlines while rectilinear designs have geometric or angular motifs and patterns.

The Medallion rug has a field dominated by either a single central medallion or by several medallions. The field surrounding the medallion may be open, filled or semi-filled.

The Garden or Hunting pattern represents a nature scene; combinations of trees, flowers, animals, birds, and human figures fill the field. A design with branches of flowers, leaves, or pomegranate fruits to fill the field is called a tree or vase design.

A series of borders or frames surrounds and sets off the interior of the rug. The number of borders vary, usually from 3 to 7, with some Chinese rugs having no border at all.

Some Popular Designs

Tabriz: These rugs have very short pile, which makes the drawing stand out with great clarity. Warp and weft are cotton, and the favorite motif is the medallion.

Kashan: The pile in these rugs is short, the field is either designed around a large medallion or is an all-over design with the border consisting of delicate scrolling stems.

Kerman: Kerman rugs originated in the southern Persian city of that name. This rug-making region has been considered as the primary source of the world's most beautiful and inventive rug designs. Kermans are worked in harmonious colors, with naturalistic flowers and chiefly roses.Warp and weft in these rugs are cotton. Kermans are worked in harmonious colors, with naturalistic flowers, chiefly roses.

Esfahan: Esfahan is located in western central Iran. Esfahan rugs have been and still remain very famous worldwide. The Turkish knot is used in these rugs and the warp and weft are cotton.

Heriz: Patterns in these rugs are of the floral type but translated into near geometric pattern by the exclusive use of straight lines. It could be an all-over design or have a medallion. It most commonly has a rich red ground.

Farahan: The pile is short and firm. Persian knots ar used in these rugs and the warp and weft are cotton. All-over designs are used and the border consists of large scrolling stems.

Soruk: These rugs come in either all-over design or in a medallion design. A classic scrolling design forms the border of these rugs.

Hamadan: The weft and warp may be cotton, wool, or camel hair. The field is usually narrow and contains one or several pole medallions. The medallions are filled with an angular floral design, or the entire field may be covered with an all-over pattern of angular rosettes.

Bijar: Medallion and corner pieces are filled with floral motifs and the rest of the field can either be bare or filled with more floral.

Mir: The field is an all-over design filled with a small diamond shape pattern.

Baluchi:large octagons, hooked lozenges both large and small.

Bokhara: Bokhara rugs was first woven by Persian nomads and was named for the city that served as their central point of trade.
Bokhara is one of the numerous designs woven in Pakistan too and is the most popular and widely known design. The field is filled with lozenges, octagons, or similar forms which is repeated throughout the central field and is symbolizes the footprint of an elephant.
Bokharas are less formal than other Persian designs, and can be used in dens, and family rooms as well as living and dining areas.

Chinese Rugs: The Chinese are masters at the art of using color, even tho the total number of colors in a given rug may be quite limited. Their use of graduated shades of the same color is unique among weaving centers. As many as ten different shades of the same color may be found in a single rug. The designs of Chinese rugs are not nearly as elaborate as those of other regions. Their designs are crisp and well defined with the patterns well proportioned.

Klims: Klims are made in many parts of Turkey and Iran. Since they have no knots, Klims are relatively inexpensive. A Kilm is reversible, comparatively fine and rather thin.

Buying an Oriental Rug

The purchase of an oriental rug should be done after considerable research and comparrative shopping. These rugs will last a lifetime and their purchase should be an informed choice on your part. Talk to owners, retailers, and e-mail us!

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