A more formal, finer handmade rug with a complicated design. Made on a vertical loom in a city, town or nearby village but under the supervision of a foreman. The materials, which will be either wool, silk, cotton and metal thread , for these rugs are dyed at the same time to guarantee uniformity of colour and quality. The design will be written on a paper , called a talim, with the sequence of knots and this will either be chanted out to the weavers knot by knot or will be in front of them to refer to as they weave. The designs of these rugs are almost always floral,pictorial and curvilinear as the greater fineness ( more knots per square metre ) of them allows for more detail than Village Rugs.
Kashan is a city in Iran 240 kms/150 miles south of the capital Tehran on the edge of the great central Salt desert. The rugs are hand woven on vertical looms with a short wool pile ( some silk and part silk are also made ) on a cotton base ( warp and weft ) and are of a generally good to excellent quality. The designs are elegant and fluid and are almost always curvilinear and floral with a central medallion. The main ground colour is either red or blue but some washed cream rugs are made too for the modern furnishing market. They generally have a central medallion , medium width border and four corner spandrels and some very fine pictorial rugs are made. The best Kashan rugs are highly desirable, especially the older examples in good condition, but there are enough inferior ones on the market to be wary when buying.
Handmade rugs from India copying the Persian Kashan rugs from Iran. A very different feel but generally still an acceptable rug, but they should be cheaper than the equivalent originals. The wool used is often too soft for hard usage but it makes them thicker and softer than the Persian ones.
Also given trade names such as Garous and Chobi. Possibly the most popular ‘furnishing’ rug in the world for the past 20 years! These rugs are handmade in northern Afghanistan with a hand spun wool pile on a cotton base ( warp and weft ). They are not particularly fine rugs, varying between 80 and 100 knots per square inch which is enough to render the designs without ruining their ‘ Village Rug ’ feel. The dyes are debatably a mix of vegetal ( vegetable and mineral – i.e natural ) and synthetic but are generally done in very sympathetic tones which make them easy to use in most rooms. The designs are borrowed from the antique Persian rugs of the Tabriz area in NW Iran , which were commissioned by the Anglo-Swiss company of Ziegler & Co between about 1883 and 1905. These original rugs are now highly prized and, much restored, to sell through interior designers in the major capitals. The USA is the largest buyer of them. They have the advantage of having either no central medallion or a very minor motif, which makes them easy to place off centre in a room. There are many grades of these rugs so only buy from a trusted source. See also Pakistan Zieglers and Indian Zieglers.
Also given trade names such as Frontier Ziegler, Garous and Chobi. These are the same rugs as the Afghan Ziegler and are woven in northern Pakistan by Afghan refugees who settled in the Peshawar to Attock areas after the Soviet invasion of 1980. Although many have returned to their homes there is still a significant production which is often made to very pale colour palettes to satisfy the western liking for bland tone on tone interiors.
Based upon the Afghan Ziegler Rugs and Pakistan Ziegler rugs, they are of a much heavier construction with a deeper pile. The wool is machine spun and is generally a New Zealand blend which gives them a very different feel and look. The dyes are synthetic but modern man made dyes are so good that this is no longer an issue. They are slightly less money than the others but could well turn out to be a better product in the long term!
A finer and very uniform strand of wool is achieved by machine as it always uses the same amount of wool and revolutions of twist. It is cheaper to make but also produces the finest wool for weaving City/Workshop Rugs.
These are the foundations of a rug. A handmade rug is started by the longitudinal threads, the warp threads, being strung between two rollers or beams. These are the threads the weaver is tying the knots around to form the design. Once a complete row of knots has been tied across the width of the rug the weft , or locking thread, is woven in and out of the warp threads and tamped down to form a stable line. The warp and weft threads are almost always cotton, which forms the most stable rug foundation, but can also be wool or silk.
This is the foundation or back of a handmade rug and is formed from the warp and weft threads. A hand tufted rug has a pre-made mesh backing into which the knots are fired with a tufting gun.
Also called Vegetable or Vegetal ( VEGETable and minerAL ) dyes. The dyestuffs made from vegetable, mineral, plant, fruit and tree matter. These colours can be derived from bugs, such as the cochineal which makes a red colour, along with the root of the madder plant; plants like the indigo produces a lovely blue. Leaves such as vine and weld gives a yellow colour whilst oak bark and iron ore gives a black tone. Many rug dealers will always tell you their rugs have natural dyes as this is deemed to be a value adding selling point- much as Organic is used to sell many products today. However, the process of making natural dyes is long and expensive and so most rug materials are dyed with synthetic colourants and are not the worse for it. Bear in mind that natural dyes start life as being quite strong and jewel toned, so if your rug is muted and washed out when new then it is not. It takes time for natural dyes to fade with use and light and when they do nothing can equal them- so if you are patient, have relatively deep pockets and like to buy good quality you need to absolutely certain you are not being lied to.
Basically any dye that is not Natural . The first synthetic dyes were available from about 1858 and many of the tones were pretty virulent, in particular a vile orange and pink which never fades. Many antique rugs can be accurately aged because of these colours, which were much loved by rug makers across Asia for their fantastic hues, ease of use and cost effectiveness. In reality most rugs were made using a mix of natural and synthetic dyes. It is a large and complicated subject and can be studied through many of the oriental rug books listed here
The modern name for Persia . Bordered by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia and Turkmenistan. Historically the major handmade rug producing country in Asia- most laypersons call any oriental rug a Persian rug. Renowned for the sheer depth and scale of the production which became a vital part of their economy, along with nuts and fruits, before the discovery of oil eclipsed them both my a massive factor. Iran is a vast and complex country, riven with religious, tribal and social divisions but, since the overthrow of the last Shah in 1979 , is held together by a deep reverence for Islam in all its forms and is admired for its family values and hospitality.
Handmade rugs from Kurdistan in NW Iran. The Rug Expert’s favourite rug! The wool is almost always of the highest quality and has a beautiful lustre, which combined with the sublime colours and the incredibly heavy construction gives us the ‘Iron Rugs of Iran’. They are the best constructed rugs in existence due to the many interlocking weft threads of both wool and cotton which are beaten down with great force to make a highly dense and hard wearing pile. The designs are florally primitive but are not so complicated as to appear refined and they are made with overall herati designs or with floral central medallion layouts. The borders are distinctive with a main band surrounded by four narrower guard ones containing rosettes, border botehs and stylized flower motifs. The colours are incredibly lovely- in particular the green and pale blue. For all these reasons they are rare and the older ones are expensive- but worth every penny.
They have the appearance of the Persian Bidjar and,whilst being good rugs compared with many new ones, are nowhere as good. The wool is a New Zealand blend and the dyes are duller. The weft threads are not hammered down to build up a massively strong, dense pile. However at half the price they are still a good furnishing rug option with the look of a great rug.