Introducing you to
the exciting world of handmade Oriental area rugs - a world of
timeless beauty and cultural mystique that has remained
virtually unchanged for centuries. The information offered here
provides the reader with both a general understanding of the
origin and the creation of an Oriental rug, as well as some of
the advantages of including these handcrafted rugs in your
decorating plans for your home, office, or wherever a floor
covering is needed.
While a variety of
weavings are mentioned in ancient writings, the origin of
handwoven Oriental rugs is uncertain. The earliest surviving
piece, known as the Pazyryk carpet, dates back to about 400-500
B.C. Discovered in a burial site excavated in southern Siberia
in 1947-49, it is now part of the Hermitage Museum Collection in
have occurred in today's handmade Oriental carpet industry.
Although weaving techniques and traditions have remained
virtually unchanged, the weavers have found it more advantageous
to adapt designs and colors to better satisfy Western decorative
is an Oriental rug?
An Oriental rug is:
. . . handmade of natural fibers (most commonly wool or
silk), with a pile woven on a warp and weft, with individual
character and design made in the Near East, Middle East, Far
East, or the Balkans.
An Oriental rug is
handwoven and varies in quality. Quality is generally determined
by the wool, intricacy of design, and knot density. Wool quality
is defined by the length of its fibers, springiness, and luster.
Today, the wool used in handknotted Oriental rugs either
originates exclusively from the country of origin or is a blend
of indigenous and imported wool. Intricacy of design refers to
the degree of detail a design possesses as well as to the number
of different colors needed to execute the pattern. The more
complex the design, the more experienced the craftsman must be
to weave the pattern. Finally, knot density and fineness of
weave are synonymous. The more knots tied per square inch, the
finer the detail in the design and the more labor-intensive the
carpets are manufactured to machine-like tolerances, handmade
rugs reflect the human element the individual's own
interpretation of color and design which is the essence of
their beauty and singularity. Nomad Art invites you to discover
the fascinating, exotic world of Oriental rugs and to see for
yourself how their use enriches your living environment.
Fundamentals of Rug Making
Although some of
the special techniques involved in weaving an Oriental rug may
vary from country to country and even from one region to another,
the principles of rug-making from dyeing the yarn to shearing
the finished piece are virtually the same throughout the world
and have changed very little over the centuries. Still, a basic
understanding of an Oriental rug's construction will be
invaluable to you when selecting an Oriental rug.
By and large, most
Oriental rugs feature a wool pile, mainly derived from sheep,
whose quality depends on factors such as the animal's breed and
diet, local climate, and shearing season. After shearing, the
wool is washed, carded (i.e., a teasing process that straightens
the fibers), and then hand - or machine - spun into yarn. Next,
the yarn is dyed in an attractive range of colors and then dried
slowly in the sun.
After the wool has been spun into yarn it is dyed.
After being dyed, the yarn is dried slowly in the
illustration of the carpet design, most commonly called a
cartoon, guides the weavers throughout the entire rug-making
process. The design is rendered on graph paper to scale.
A detailed drawing of the carpet's design, which has
been rendered to scale on
graph paper, is the weaver's guide throughout the
entire weaving process.
Through the ages,
looms have remained relatively unchanged. While the most
primitive is the nomadic or horizontal loom, the type most
generally used today consists of two vertical beams of either
wood or metal and two similarly made horizontal beams. The
distance between the vertical beams determines the rug's width.
Warp threads, usually cotton, are strung between the horizontal
beams at a consistent tension. The thickness of the warp threads
and the closeness at which they are strung are two of the
elements that will determine the fineness of the weave (i.e.,
knot density) of the carpet that is ultimately woven.
There are two types
of knots used in rug-weaving: the Turkish knot (also called
Ghiordes or symmetrical knot) and the Persian knot (also known
as Senneh or asymmetrical knot). With the average weaver able to
tie 10,000 to 14,000 Turkish or Persian knots a day, several
weavers working together can only complete one or two inches of
the carpet a day.
The weaver ties a knot around two adjacent warps,
slides it down to the base of the weft and cuts the
yarn with a knife.
This procedure of tying and cutting creates the pile
of the rug.
Before the actual
knotting of the pile begins, the rug is secured at the bottom of
the loom by a short kilim, a flat pileless fabric, which is
woven by passing several rows of horizontal cotton threads, or
wefts, through alternate warp threads. After rolling the
different-colored yarns to be used into balls, the weaver,
reading the design from the cartoon begins weaving the rug. With
the appropriate color yarn, the weaver ties a knot around two
adjacent warps, slides the knot down to the base of the weft,
and then cuts the yarn with a knife, thereby producing the pile.
After each row of knots is completed, one or more weft threads
are inserted to secure the knots and are beaten down tightly
with a comb. At this stage, the pile ends are often cut level
with a pair of shears. The alternation of wefts with rows of
tied knots is repeated until the carpet is finished. Before
removing the rug from the loom, another kilim is woven at the
top. The fringe is formed by the cutting of the warps at both
ends of the rug.
After the rug has
been cut off the loom, the final finishing steps take place.
First, the selvedge edges (i.e., side edges of the rug formed by
the continuous weft) are bound or overcast with yarn to
reinforce the side edges of the rug. Next, the warp ends, which
secured the rug to the loom, are knotted or braided to form the
rug's fringe. The rug is then washed either by hand or by
machine to eliminate dust and dirt that accumulated during
weaving. In addition to cleaning the rug, the type of wash given
the rug can also impart an exquisite sheen and luster to the
wool as well as soften or antique the rug's colors.
After the side edges of the rug are overcast and the
fringe has been knotted the rug is washed.
On certain carpets motifs are accented by carving or
Once the rug is
washed and dried, a carpet cutter shears the tops of the knots
to create a uniform pile height. In addition to the surface
shearing certain carpets feature carved or incised designs which
highlight various motifs. Today, this type of accenting is often
done to Turkish and Persian carpets. The Oriental rug is now
completed and ready for shipment.
the weaving has been completed the rug is cut from the
loom and the surface
is sheared to create a uniform pile height.