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About Oriental Rug Construction

About Oriental Rug Construction

Oriental rugs are renowned for their intricate designs and exceptional craftsmanship. These rugs come in various types, including knotted, tufted, and flat-woven rugs, each with unique construction methods and knot types. In this guide, we will explore the anatomy of a hand-knotted rug, the different types of knots and their usage, and how to properly count knots to determine rug quality.

Anatomy of A Hand Knotted Rug

A. WARP: The parallel threads running through the entire length of the rug onto which the knots are tied.

B. WEFT: The threads running across the width of the rug inserted between all the rows of knots. These threads pass through alternate warp threads. Their job is to secure the knots in parallel lines and to strengthen the fabric.

C. KNOT: The term used for a strand of wool yarn which is looped around two adjacent warp threads and then cut to form the pile (surface of carpet).

D. OVERCASTING: A simple wrapping of dyed yarn along the entire length of both sides of a handmade rug.

E. FRINGE: The visible continuation of the warp threads at both ends of the carpet.

F. KILIM: The pileless web of warp and weft between the rug's pile and the knotted fringe. This is also the name for a rug without pile.

Types of Oriental Rug Construction

Oriental rugs are crafted using various construction techniques. The most common types include knotted, tufted, and flat-woven rugs. Each type has distinct characteristics and methods of creation:

  • Knotted Rugs: Created by hand-knotting wool or silk around the warp threads. The density and type of knot used (Persian or Turkish) can affect the rug's durability and design intricacy.
  • Tufted Rugs: Made using a tufting gun to insert yarn into a base fabric. These rugs are quicker to produce and often more affordable than knotted rugs.
  • Flat-Woven Rugs: These rugs have no pile and are made by weaving the warp and weft threads together. They are lightweight, reversible, and typically less expensive.

Who Uses Which Knot?

The type of knot used in a rug can often indicate its origin. Persian knots (asymmetrical) and Turkish knots (symmetrical) are the most common:

  • Persian Knot: Commonly used in Iran, India, Pakistan, and China. Known for its ability to create detailed patterns due to its asymmetric structure.
  • Turkish Knot: Predominantly used in Turkey and the Caucasus region. Its symmetrical structure provides a durable and even pile.
Anatomy of a Hand Knotted Rug
Anatomy of a Hand Knotted Rug: This diagram shows the different components of a hand-knotted rug, including the warp, weft, knots, overcasting, fringe, and kilim. Understanding these components helps in appreciating the complexity and craftsmanship involved in creating these beautiful rugs.
Persian Knot
Persian Knot: The Persian knot, also known as the Senneh knot, is a type of knot used in rug making. This knot is asymmetric, allowing for more detailed and intricate patterns. It is commonly used in Persian rugs, which are known for their fine details and high knot density.
Turkish Knot
Turkish Knot: The Turkish knot, also known as the Ghiordes knot, is another type of knot used in rug making. This knot is symmetric and is often used in Turkish and Caucasian rugs. The Turkish knot creates a more durable and even pile, making it ideal for rugs that are subject to heavy use.

Counting Knots Correctly

Counting knots on an oriental rug is essential to determine its quality and value. The process involves counting the number of knots per square inch (KPSI). Here's how to do it correctly:

  • Identify the "bumps" on the back of the rug, which are the visible parts of the knots.
  • Ensure you count each knot only once, especially if the rug shows both loops of the knot.
  • Count the number of knots vertically and horizontally in one square inch, then multiply the two numbers to get the KPSI.

Hand Tufted Rugs

Hand-tufted rugs are made using a tufting gun to insert yarn into a base fabric. This method is faster than hand-knotting and results in a rug that looks and feels similar to a hand-knotted rug but at a lower cost. The construction steps are as follows:

  1. Stretch foundation cloth onto a loom.
  2. Ink the design onto the cloth.
  3. Use a tufting gun to insert the wool yarn from the back.
  4. Complete the design by changing yarn colors as needed.
  5. Remove the rug from the loom and place it face down.
  6. Apply a layer of latex to the back and attach a scrim for stability.
  7. After the latex dries, shear the face of the rug, wash, and emboss it.
  8. Sew on a back cloth to protect the floor surface.
  9. Add fringe to the ends of the rug.

Flat-Woven Rugs

Flat-woven rugs have no pile and are made by weaving the warp and weft threads together. They are lightweight, reversible, and typically less expensive than knotted rugs. Common methods for changing colors in flat-woven rugs include:

  • Slit Weave
  • Warp Sharing (Dovetailing)
  • Interlocking Wefts
  • Soumak Weave
  • Flat-Weave Circle Formation

Quality Grading Systems

Quality grading systems for handmade rugs vary by country. The most common measure is Knots Per Square Inch (KPSI), which indicates the density and quality of the rug. Here are the general KPSI ranges:

  • 30 KPSI: Very Coarse
  • 30-60 KPSI: Coarse
  • 60-130 KPSI: Medium Fine
  • 130-160 KPSI: Fine
  • 160-290 KPSI: Very Fine
  • 290+ KPSI: Extremely Fine

Higher knot counts typically result in greater intricacy and clarity of design, as well as higher value and durability.

By now, you should be ready to apply these systems to real rugs. While learning to count knots correctly can be challenging, it is crucial for assessing a rug's quality. Remember that Indian, Chinese, and Persian design Pakistani rugs show each knot only once, while Pakistan Bokhara rugs show each knot twice.