Part 3: Understanding Differences in Oriental Rugs

Understanding Differences in Oriental Rugs – Hand-Knotted, KPSI, and Price

Oriental rugs come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and designs with an even wider range of quality and prices. Why does one type cost so much more than the other? What is the difference between the various types of Oriental rugs? What is ‘knots per square inch’ and why does it matter so much? These are just some of the questions that most novice rug buyers have on their minds. To help you navigate the great Oriental rug maze, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

The difference between ‘hand-knotted’, ‘hand-made’, ‘machine-made’ and ‘tufted’ rugs

For a rug to be categorized as hand knotted rugs, it has to meet two requirements. One – it has to be knotted and second- the knotting has to be done by hand. Hand-knotted rugs, hand-made rugs and machine-made rugs meet one or the other of these two requirements but not both.

While hand-made implies the rug is made by hand, it is used as a broader term and includes ALL handmade rugs including needlepoint and hooked rugs. Tufted rugs on the other hand, can be made either by hand or machine and they are not necessarily knotted. In machine made rugs, the knots are made by a machine.

Persian rug hand knotted on a loom Differences in Oriental Rugs - Hand-Knotted, KPSI, and Price
Hand Knotted Rug
machine made rug during manufacturing Differences in Oriental Rugs - Hand-Knotted, KPSI, and Price
Machine Made Rug
hand tufted rug during manufacturing
Hand Tufted Rug

Knots per square inch explained

How to count knots per square inch
How knots per inch is counted

This term refers to the number of knots that are packed into an area of 1 sq. inch of the rug. Different varieties of Oriental rugs use different types of knotting techniques as well as different knots per square inch, which ultimately determine the quality of the finished product. Rugs that use fine wool and tight knots usually have the highest knots per square inch ratio and they are typically more expensive. Some of the tribal rugs that use coarser wool and a lower knot per square inch value have a more rugged look and are less expensive. Both types have their own charm.

Comparing knots per square inch is much like comparing the pixels on telivision screens. The more pixels there are, the more detailed the picture will appear. Before comparing knot count, it is also important to consider the level of detail in the design of the rug. Some Oriental rugs have bold designs such as large geometric shapes or large flowers, so it is not neccessary to weave them with high knot count due to the lack of detail. Simply put, it would be a waste of time to use high knot count for these type of rugs. This is the case for many village Persian rugs such as Heriz rugs. On the other hand, rugs that do have fine detail require more knots per square inch to showcase each motif down to its finest flowers or shapes. Many traditional hand-knotted Persian rugs use high knots per square inch.

Time it takes to make one rug

This would depend on the type of rug as well as its size. Again a rug with a lower KPSI value would take less time to make as compared to a rug with a higher KPSI. To get a better perspective on the time taken to create a rug, a Persian rug measuring 9′ by 12′ and with a 500 KPSI ratio would take about 14 months to complete if worked on by 4 to 5 weavers working an approximate 6 hours a day 6 days a week. When you consider the time taken, it does justify the higher price of a high quality hand knotted Persian rug.

The Price Factor

One of the concerns that the most rug buyers have on their minds is trying to figure out the price differences between the various types of rugs. It may seem confusing as to why two rugs that seem to be so similar should vary so much in price. While two rugs may look similar from afar, it is important to take a closer look to determine the differences between the two. The price of each rug is based on the size of the rug and the raw materials used as well as the labor involved. Persian rugs are usually more expensive because they are labor intensive and each rug is one of a kind.