With their magnificent intricate patterns, stunning colors and superior finish, you would imagine that Persian and Oriental rugs would be made by highly trained professionals using very advanced, complex machinery, high end materials and custom manufactured dyes.
Surprisingly, none of that is true. Hard to believe but Oriental rugs are hand woven on some of the most basic types of looms imaginable.
The material used is usually home spun wool and occasionally cotton or silk and the dyes are extracted from indigenous flora.
Admittedly the weavers are trained but their training does not entail sitting in a classroom learning the theories of weaving.
The art of weaving is passed down from one generation to the next within the same tribe or village, thus preserving the integrity of their art.
Sneak Peak Into The Traditional Art Of Rug Weaving
All you need for a loom are 2 tree trunks and a couple of poles!
That’s true – For nomadic weavers who lived in the mountainous regions in Iran and who were constantly moving in search of greener pastures for their sheep, dismantling the loom and setting it up at every new destination means they have to keep it simple. These nomadic weavers actually weave their magnificent creations using a few poles stretched horizontally between two tree trunks.
The village loom also consists of two vertical posts with 2 horizontal beans stretched between them. The only difference is that these looms are permanent as they do not need to be moved from place to place. This permanent nature of the look allows the village weavers to weave rugs that are of a slightly better quality than the tribal rugs. Some weavers even use vertical looms.
Understanding Warp And Weft Threads
A true Persian and Oriental rug is always hand woven using two types of threads – the warp and the weft. The warp threads run vertically in the north-south direction and the weft threads are the ones that are used in the weaving and they run horizontally or west to east. The weft threads separate the different rows of knots.
To begin with, the warp threads are first passed around the lower beam. Then all the free ends are gathered up together and fixed onto the upper beam. Basically what a loom does is it separates the warp into two sets. This allows the weaver to reverse them after they’ve inserted each weft thread. Once this is done, the intended rug areas are knotted, forming the basis for the pile of the Oriental rugs.
Materials And Dyes Used For Creating Persian and Oriental Rugs
Sheep wool is the most commonly used material in the making of Oriental rugs. The grazing conditions determined the type of wool that was used and ultimately the quality of the rug. In some regions where the sheep wool was not easily available, weavers used camel wool or goat’s wool.
Somewhere down the rug-making centuries, weavers started using cotton because so give the rugs additional stability and durability. Although cotton rugs do not have the finesse that wool rugs do, they last longer making them more cost effective too.
You can also find Oriental rugs made of silk. These look lush and luxuriant not only because of the glossy thread itself but also because the thread is easy to work with and so weavers can make more knots per square inch, enhancing the quality of the rug even more. Silk rugs can be very expensive but they have a beauty and feel that is incomparable.