If you’re in the market for a beautiful hand knotted Persian or Oriental rug, there is a lot to consider.
Sourcing, pricing, craftsmanship, and design features like size and color all factor into your choice.
Whether you are an experienced collector or dipping your toes in for the first time, this guide will show you how to shop confidently. With so many options available, you will want to make sure you find the one that suits you the best!
Where to Start when Selecting your next Oriental Rug
Persian rugs are a piece of art, so the design is a significant factor and can be the main selling factor. But if you are interested in more than just the design and want to find a rug that really suits your space, this guide will help you through the selection process with some criteria that you may like to consider when shopping.
Before starting, consider a few things you will need to decide on before shopping, your mindset and your budget.
Mindset when buying Oriental Rugs
The first thing to keep in mind is that you are purchasing a piece of art that will go on your floor, providing you with utility and beauty. Because Persian and Oriental rugs are handmade, it is vital to be flexible when looking for a rug.
When choosing a one-of-a-kind piece, it is best to be flexible regarding the size, design, and colors. The selection process can be more straightforward when you go in open-minded, looking to fall in love with a piece of art.
The main things to keep in mind are:
- You are shopping for a piece of art – You want to fall in love with a piece
- Keep an open mind and be flexible with your criteria because these rugs are made by hand and one of a kind
Budget and Price Ranges of Oriental Rugs
Before beginning your shopping, take the time to decide your budget. Purchasing a Persian or Oriental rug is investing in a piece of art that will last for many generations. With good care and depending on the rarity and uniqueness of the rug, the value of the rug will increase over time.
Learn more about how Persian rugs are priced.
Setting a budget can help you know what to look for when selecting a rug and what type will be within your price range.
Once you have developed a good mindset and decided on your budget, you are ready to consider the primary criteria.
The primary criteria include the following:
1. What type of room is your Oriental Rug for
Whether your rug will be placed in your living room, dining room, or any other space can impact what to consider when choosing a rug. This helps you to narrow down some of the other criteria for your rug.
For example, if the rug is to be placed in your living room, you will need to decide if you want to place the rug underneath the couch or if you will place it in front of the furniture.
If the rug is in your dining room, you will need ensure the size is large enough for your table and pull out the dining chairs. You will also want to focus on the border’s color, as this will be the main portion you see.
To learn more about selecting a rug for different rooms, check out our guide to choosing a Persian rug for living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms.
2. Dimensions of Oriental Rugs
Selecting the dimension for your rug is important to be flexible. Measurement conversions, natural variability in handmade rugs, and the fringe length can all impact the size of rugs and may make it difficult to find an exact size.
Persian rugs always have fringes, so even when a rug may say it is 9’x12’, this dimension does not include the length of the fringe. Typically, you can add 1 to 2 inches to get the correct length, including the fringe, because the fringe on both ends can add about ½ inch to an inch to both sides.
It is also essential to consider that hand-knotted rug can vary in size. Since these rugs are made using the metric system, the conversion often doesn’t give exact round numbers in feet. You can expect them to be shorter or longer than the given dimensions.
It’s a good idea to set absolute limits for dimensions that will fit in your room instead of looking for an exact size. Deciding on the largest size that your room can fit and the smallest size that would suit the space is a good idea so that you can work with a range of sizes.
Also, It’s best practice to measure your space and mark it with painter’s tape to see how the different sizes would look.
3. Oriental Rug Pile Height
The pile of a rug can be broken down between low pile, medium pile, and high pile. The pile refers to the thickness of the rug. When choosing the pile, some people have a preference for a specific thickness, or the way you intend to use the room can help determine which thickness would work best.
If your rug is going to be used in a high-traffic area of your home, a high-pile rug is your best choice. The high pile allows it to withstand wear and tear more than a low pile rug. Good options to consider if you are looking for a high-pile rug are Heriz, Bijar, or Mashad rugs.
On the other hand, if the rug you are selecting needs to be able to go under a door, clearance is something you will need to consider. In this case, look at low to low-medium pile rugs. Baluchi, Kazak, or Turkoman rugs are great options for lower-pile rugs.
For more information on selecting the right pile height for your space, check out our article on why rug pile height matters.
4. Oriental Rug Colors
It is a good idea to be flexible with the color of the rug you are choosing. Most rugs will incorporate a variety of tones, giving you a variety to choose from.
The main areas of colors are–
Field color – is the primary background color of the rug
Border Color – the color of the outline of the rug
Highlight Colors – Multiple colors can make up the details and highlights throughout the rug
Depending on the room you are using the Persian rug in, it can help to decide which colors you want your rug to incorporate. Using a few accent colors within the room to complement the rug’s colors can help incorporate them into your design.
5. Brightness or Darkness
The brightness or darkness of a rug is related to the colors. So this can be a preference in your selection or serve as part of its utility.
If you are selecting a rug for your dining room, choose a darker rug to help hide any stains or spills.
The brightness or darkness helps narrow down which kind of rugs you want to consider because some rugs are brighter and others are darker.
6. Oriental Rug Designs
One of the most extraordinary things about Persian and Oriental rugs is that there are so many different options when it comes to designs. This depends on your preference and the room design you would like to incorporate the rug.
Some of the most popular design styles are –
Herati Designs (fish design)
These designs can either come in an all-over pattern or with a medallion in the center. Besides these three popular designs, there are others, such as garden design, pictorial, prayer and hunting rugs.
Once you have settled on these primary items, you are ready to consider the secondary criteria.
The decisions you made in the primary criteria will begin to dictate these secondary criteria, such as the type of rug, the knot density, the material, and the age.
1. Type of Oriental Rug
Now that you have already decided on your primary criteria, it will help narrow down the type of rug you are interested in. But, if you have an affinity for a particular type, you can focus on those. And if certain characteristics are offered in certain types of rugs, then you can focus on those because each type of Oriental rug has its own distinct set of characteristics.
Generally, the more popular the type of rug is, the more expensive it will be. So, for example, Tabriz, Kashan, or Mashad usually come at higher prices because they have higher demand.
There are three main categories that the types of rugs can be broken down into
2. Oriental Rug Knot Density
The knot density you are looking for can be impacted by the design you are looking for. Knot density is sometimes an overrated criterion. Just because a rug has a higher knot density does not necessarily mean it is superior, depending on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for a geometric rug that doesn’t have a lot of detail, the knot density is not as crucial as some of the other primary criteria.
3. What Oriental Rugs Made of?
The material is generally broken down into what the pile and foundation are made of. Typically, the foundation is made of cotton, and the pile is made of wool. While there can be variations with silk foundations or piles, the type of material you will get depends on your design.
Age is not that important as long as the rug is in excellent condition. The prices of brand-new Persian rugs will be higher because the labor and materials cost increases yearly. Vintage and Antique rug prices also increase if they are in excellent condition because they are rare.
We hope this helpful article will guide you through making the perfect choice for your home!
Hand-Knotted Oriental Rugs
Oriental rugs come in the most breathtakingly diverse array of styles, colors and designs, with each type of rug having its own distinct characteristics, origins and weaving technique. So what is the one common thread that runs through them all? Interestingly, it’s the fact they are all hand-knotted. All Oriental rugs, whether they originate from Iran, India, Pakistan or Afghanistan, are always woven and knotted by hand. If you see a rug that is obviously machine made, no matter how strikingly similar it may be to a Gabbeh, a Bokhara or a Kashan rug, it is simply a replica. It is not the original.
Oriental Rugs Warps, Wefts And Knots
Most people walk into a carpet shop and are impressed with the wealth of choices that lay displayed everywhere but how many of us really think about the labor of love that goes into creating each rug?
In an oriental rug, every knot is made by hand. Weavers sit at the loom for hours on end, deftly weaving and knotting wool in various hues, creating a finished rug that has exotic patterns in deep, rich colors. A hand woven rug measuring 12 feet x 9 feet takes a minimum of 3000 hours just for the weaving. That’s more than 4 months and it does not even take into consideration the time spent on spinning and dyeing the wool or setting up the loom.
Let’s not forget those knots: A coarse Oriental rug has on average about 30 to 40 knots per square inch and a high quality Oriental rug can have a density of 300 or more knots per square inch. It’s difficult to even imagine the weavers’ patience and persistence.
Origin of Oriental Rugs
Most rugs are woven by nomadic tribes in remote hilly areas. The weavers use the knotting technique passed down by their ancestors and in the process of creating the pattern, they give free reign to their creativity, which adds to the variations. It’s absolutely amazing. Every Oriental rug tells a different story. If you look closely, you will notice that all the little design elements that may appear to be randomly chosen are actually depictions of the weaver’s narrative.
Types Of Oriental Rugs
Persian rugs are the oldest type of rugs that you see and most other types of rugs are in some way or the other imitations of this original rug making style. Persian variations run the gamut from roughly woven tribal rugs such as Herez, Kurd and Hamadan to lush, high quality rugs such as Qum, Nain and Tabriz.
Traditional rug making in Indian was initiated during the reign of Mogul Emperor Akbar during the 1500s. The techniques and styles used were mostly adopted from the Esfahan style, which originated in Esfahan, a city located south of Tehran in Persia.
Rug production in Pakistan can be traced back to the 1500s when skilled Persian weavers were brought into the country to create masterpieces for Akbar Shah. All Pakistani rugs still reflect their Persian heritage.