Oriental rugs are a beautiful addition to any home and come with the added attribute of being completely handmade over a period of weeks or even months, depending on their size. Because the craft of oriental rug making is an art form in many countries, the rugs can be quite valuable, especially if you happen to find an antique.
If you want to find a valuable rug that also has plenty of character, it’s essential that you learn to identify the key components of an oriental rug so you can confirm its authenticity.
Traditional oriental rugs copy the original Persian style rugs, which are renowned as the most durable and beautiful across the globe. When the tradition of rug making in Persia (now Iran) first began, sheep’s wool was readily available and thus became the main material for Persian rugs.
Rarer rugs may be made of fine silk or cotton, which was imported and only available to the highest members of society due to the expense. Traditional rugs may also have been made from goat or camel hair, although these aren’t often found today, as the fibers were prone to breakage and were not very soft to walk on.
If you come across a rug with synthetic fibers which is factory-made, then this rug is not an authentic oriental rug. You’re most likely to notice this on the warps and wefts of the rug (the patchwork of fibers which the colored threads are woven around) as a synthetic-made rug will have a more solid or robust framework.
Part of the charm of genuine oriental rugs is that they’re 100% unique. This is because they’re hand-woven, and no rug maker could possibly make every rug completely identical. Often, rug makers will create their own signature designs which are unable to be copied, making the rug a one-of-a-kind work of art.
If you’re presented with multiple sizes of the exact same rug design, then you should be careful, as it’s obvious that these rugs have been created using a machine.
Fringes are also a great way to tell if a rug is authentic. Machine-made rugs may have sewn on fringes that mimic the genuine ones, but they are simply attached at the end of the weave and are prone to coming loose later. A genuine oriental or Persian rug will have fringes which are an integral part of the rug because they’re part of the warp and weft fibers. These fringes can’t possibly come away from the rug, which contributes to durability and overall high quality.
3. Hand Woven
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to identify an oriental rug is the difference between a genuine hand-woven rug and a machine-made rug that is made to mimic a traditional oriental pattern.
A quality hand-woven rug consists of very specific knot patterns and weaving and can take weeks or months to create, depending on its size. However, a machine-made rug may only take 2-3 hours to create – therefore making it much less valuable.
You should also look out for symmetry. A genuine oriental or Persian rug cannot possibly be completely symmetrical just because of the way they’re made. The hand-woven techniques can cause lines and patterns to be a little uneven. This only adds to the charm.
With a non-authentic rug, you may find that the pattern is entirely symmetrical, meaning it was probably made by a machine. However, the machine technology is more prone to unraveling and may only last a few years without showing wear and tear.
The color of Persian or oriental rugs is also massively important when spotting a fake. Traditional weavers would make their own dye from natural materials such as plant or animal extracts, mastering techniques to ensure that the dye stays in the wool, silk or cotton for long periods of time and don’t bleed into each other.
If the rug is not a genuine Persian or oriental rug, then the dyes will also be synthetic, along with the material. This often means that the dye will fade much quicker and is likely to run if the rug gets wet. Synthetic dyes or inks tend to run if they come into contact with oil or water, but natural plant dyes don’t.
To test this, you should place a damp cloth over one corner of the rug. If the cloth comes away with coloring, then the rug probably isn’t real.
5. Country Of Origin
Iran, formerly Persia, was where the tradition of hand-woven rug-making first began. China and India also have a long tradition of rug making which has been passed down through the ages, though these designs were copied from the original Persian designs.
Although the Indian and Chinese versions of Persian rugs are still very beautiful and may have been made by hand from sheep’s wool, they are generally much cheaper than Persian rugs, just because of the imitation factor.
Oriental and traditional Persian rugs are a great asset to add to your home, and they can be quite valuable too. However, because of their popularity, there are lots of people keen to imitate the look to make money.
Fake rugs can wear more easily, the color can run or fade quickly, and they won’t be as valuable if you attempt to sell them. Following this buying guide or consulting a professional will help you to secure a genuine Persian or oriental rug made in the traditional way, giving you more value and a better showpiece for guests.