An Introduction to Rugs
"Rugs by Region" provides you with a way to learn about rugs from different areas of the world. Click above on the region of interest to obtain a list of terms associated with that region. Click on the term to read more about it.
Here you will find our rug evaluation form. This tool will be useful when comparing multiple rugs for purchase. Read below for more helpful information about handmade rugs.
Handmade rugs are constructed from wool, silk, cotton, goat hair or a combination of these fibers. In modern rugs, cotton is often the foundation of the rug. Cotton threads are strung vertically on the loom, which is typically made of wood or, in modern weaving centers, of wood or steel. These vertical threads are the warp threads, and they are the foundation upon which another fiber, such as wool, is knotted to create the design of the rug.
Between the rows of knots, a cotton thread called a weft is woven to hold the knots in place. Knots may be large or small, depending on how many plies of wool are used and how tightly the knots are tied. To a certain extent, the design itself dictates the size and tightness of the knots – a more geometric design requires larger and fewer knots while a finer, curvilinear design requires smaller knots and more of them.
Hand-knotted rugs are made in Iran, India, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Turkey, and Tibet. Persian rugs are also referred to as “Oriental Rugs,” and today all hand-knotted rugs influenced by traditional Persian designs are referred to as “Oriental Rugs.” Rugs woven in the style of the traditional Persians are currently being made in China, India, Pakistan, and Romania.
When a rug is described on our site as an “Indo Tabriz,” this is a rug woven in India after the style of Persian rugs made in the city of Tabriz. There will be an overall style or a design element in common between the Indo Tabriz rug and the Persian Tabriz rug. However, this same rug might resemble Persian rugs woven in Kashan, so another dealer could refer to the rug as an “Indo Kashan.” In this specific example, either name would be considered acceptable.
Rugs are named in the following ways:
- After the cities or regions where they were made.
- After the places where their designs originated. (Such is the case with the Indo Tabriz described above.)
- After the tribes that made them.
- With trade names.
An example of a rug that is named after a tribe is Bakhtiari. An example of a rug named after a region is Kazak. An example of a rug named after a city is Isfahan. An example of a trade name is Serapi Heriz.
Traditional European styles like the Aubusson, a flatweave rug originating in France, have also been recently made in countries like China, where the quality of the rug can be just as good and the price is not prohibitive for the European and American Markets. Other types of flatweave rugs, like dhurries, are still being made in the countries where they originated - in this case, India – and remain very affordable.
When determining the value of a rug for purchase, consider the following five criteria:
- Material Quality
Years of experience may be required to achieve comfort with the ability to identify rugs at a glance or to determine the value of a rug independently – do not feel discouraged. A knowledgeable, forthright rug dealer will be glad to share with you what years of experience have taught him or her about rugs and the rug trade. Our rug evaluation form provides a place to record information about rugs that you are considering for purchase. Using the form will facilitate a side-by-side comparison of the various aspects of each rug.