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Oriental Rugs

The floors in your home may be wood, tile, or carpet, but nothing covers them like oriental rugs. Rug making originated in the times of the ancient Greeks (if not before) in the areas of central and southern Asia, and these regions still set the standard for fine workmanship. Here is what to look for when selecting a fine, hand made oriental rug:

Knots or knot density is a count of the knots per square inch and is one of the most common measures of rug quality. Rugs are made of short pieces of thread pushed through a woven backing and tied in a knot around its crossed threads. Generally, knots are either Turkish (Ghiordes) or Persian (Senneh), with some variants. The kind of knot has little to do with the value of a rug. The value of the knot count can be overstated, but it is a rough measure because of its relation to pattern. Quality rugs have 100 knots; premium rugs have 200 and more.

Origin is important to the style, pattern, and material of a rug. Most rugs today come from southern Asia, Turkey, the Caucasus, Iran (modern Persia), Central Asia, China, Pakistan, and India. The countries of origin usually show a strong influence of Islamic art. Perhaps the finest works are from Iran and other areas of the Caucasus. China, and Pakistan produce quality works as well.

Patterns define the appearance of a rug and may dictate its material. Patterns exhibit characteristics of repetition and organization. Generally, patterns are symmetric about the center and may differ for borders and the field in the center of the rug. A rug may also have a center medallion with a unique pattern within its own field. Rugs are often identified solely by their pattern (e.g., Tabriz or Farahan), and patterns can connote both the origin, material, and appearance of a rug because of the tribal traditions of that area. The finest patterns generally require the best materials and the highest knot counts.

Condition is important if you are looking for particular rugs that are no longer produced or in short supply because their production. The value of classic patterns and fine workmanship is offset by visible wear.

Colors of a rug are important not only for its appeal but for what it indicates about the material and the technique of dying the material. Some colors are harder to achieve than others or require particular effects like the sheen of silk. Color affects the price of oriental carpets almost solely because of demand.

Content can strongly influence the value of a rug both because of its cost and its durability. Cotton is generally less costly than wool; silk most expensive of all. However, wool lasts longer than cotton, and silk may only be suitable for display, not heavy foot traffic.

Size can restrict your options. Rugs generally come in the rough sizes of 2' x 3', 4' x 5', 6' x 9', 9' x 12', and 10' x 14'. Runners for stairs or hallways are about 30 inches wide and in varying lengths. Custom rugs can be made in any size, of course, but also come with custom price tags.

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