The color seen through your monitor is usually about 95% accurate and fairly representative of the real color of the rug. To the best of our ability, we try to produce a picture that is as true to the rug as possible.
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The most valuable and exquisite rugs are made by hand, celebrating the unique creations of individual artisans. In practice, the hand weaving process has not changed much over the centuries. It still begins with the warp, a vertical stretching of threads on a loom (the frame on which the carpet is created). Knots are hand-tied horizontally across the warp threads row by row to create the design. Following each row of knotted threads, a second series of threads known as weft are interlaced with the warp at right angles, which form the foundation of the rug. The color and thickness of the hand-knotted wool yarn, the knotting technique and construction determines the appearance of a rug. Each authentic handmade rug possesses its own unique quality through the use of hand-spun wool and hand-dyed yarn that creates a subtle difference.
NATURAL COLORSUntil the late nineteenth century only natural dyes were used for coloring weaving yarns. Natural dyes include plant dyes, animal dyes, and mineral dyes.Plant dyes come from roots, flowers, leaves, fruit, and bark of plants. Below are some examples of plants used as dyes:
- Woad: mustard family
- Indigo: blue family
- Saffron safflower, sumac, turmeric, onionskin, rhubarb, weld, and fustic: yellow family
- Madder, Redwood and Brazilwood: Red Family
- Catechu dye, oak bark, oak galls, acorn husks, tea, and walnut husks: brown and Black family.
SYNTHETIC COLORSDuring the mid-nineteenth century, the demand for handmade rugs increased in the West, therefore increasing Eastern production. To meet the demand an increased color pallet of synthetic dyes were developed in Germany and imported to Iran to reduce costs. The first synthetic dyes was aniline dyes which were made from coal and tar. This dye created brilliant colors but faded rapidly with exposure to light and water. However, the use of these dyes were banned by Nasser-e-Din Shah, the Persian king of Qajar Dynasty, in 1903. Thus causing Persian weavers to discontinue the use of synthetic dyes until the modern synthetic chrome dyes were developed during the first and the second World Wars. Chrome dyes are stable (any dye that retains its intensity despite exposure to light and water) and are produced in an infinite range of attractive hues that are mainly used for coloring weaving yarns. When purchasing a rug we have confidence in both types of natural and synthetic colors as they will both age elegantly over time.
Knotting can be defined as the tying of the colored yarn around the threads of the foundation that creates the pile of a carpet. The most important element in creating a quality rug is its basic construction and the integrity of its principal materials. Additionally, knotting is a precised skill and is crucial to the aesthetics of a finished carpet. Rugs do not need to have a large knot count to be high quality. So be wary if someone tries to sell you a rug solely on the basis of a knot count.
Knots per square inch and determines the number of knots in one square inch of the rug. It represents the overall number of knots used in creation of a handmade rug. Usually, City rugs have higher KPSI since they have more detail and they use finer wool. Tribal rugs have lower KPSI since their design is more simple and geometric.
The diagrams below illustrate two different knotting techniques that are used depending upon the geographical origin and specific use of the carpet.
The cut ends of the yarn emerge between two warp threads around which it is tied.
The knot is used primarily in Turkey, the Caucasus, and in many rural regions in Iran, and by some Turkoman tribes.
This is also known as the Persian knot and encircles only one pair of warps.
Many asymmetrically knotted rugs display more finely patterned motifs.
A rug composition is comprised of three parts; layout, field and border. When we discuss the layout of a rug, we are talking about the overall arrangements of motifs or objects that are woven in to the rug. A motif is any single form or corresponding group of forms that creates a portion of the design. However the term is fairly general and it can be divided into three additional kinds such as one sided, medallion and all-over layouts.
The field of a rug is the area that contains the medallion, motifs and the corners of the rug. Generally, the field’s color is the dominant color of the background with exception to the border. Frequently used background colors are red, blue, beige, and yellow.
Surrounding the field are two borders including internal and external. While the internal border frames the field, the external border encompasses the whole rug, which is secured by Selvedge. Additionally, the border color is not as readily distinguished as the background color. Most border colors consist of red, blue, beige, yellow, and green.
One Sided Layouts
Prayer and pictorial rugs are consider to have one sided layouts
because the design is woven in one direction. As a result, these
designs can only be viewed from one side (similar to a photograph).
The earliest form of weave is the dimensional flat weave, where horizontal threads are passed over and under vertical threads. This kind of weaving can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times, before pile weaving began. There are four types of flat weave rugs: Kilim, Dhurry, Sumakh and Aubusson.
The Kilim uses the same type of dye and the same patterns in certain areas. The peculiar characteristic of kilims is due to the primitive form of weaving. The weft wool threads are twisted very firm to give the look of linen. The weft threads do not go beyond the particular figure in the pattern and once it is finished perfectly the rug is exactly the same on both sides. Do to the method of weaving, the design is geometric. The meaning of the word Kilim is “double faced”, they are reversible. Persian Kilim is called Gileem and comes in a few different types but the finest of these are the Sehna.
The Dhurry is a flat weave rug made in India and in Afghanistan. Old Dhurries are made of cotton and are tightly woven. These rugs were used in wedding ceremonies and other important occasions. Flat weave was essentially the art. At some point there were rules and regulations concerning the quality of the products were established. The best rugs were made by a limited group which included members of the local authority and other influential people.New Durries are made from both cotton and wool. The best ones have five or six ply wool yarn twisted together to make the weft threads. The tighter the weave is, the longer the rug lasts. The lowest quality Dhurries are used as bed covers and underlay for fine rugs. These types of weaves have also been seen in American Indian rugs from Peru.
Sumakhs are flat weaves with design on one side, with loose ends at the back. Sumakhs are hand make pileless carpets from the Caucasus, around the Caspian Sea. The design of the Sumakh is like any other rug from the Caucasus, geometric and ornate. The ground is covered with geometric shapes running lengthwese with the occasional star or diamond which is the knot of destiny. There are many beautiful finished weaves made for tents, bags and saddle bags in this area. The women of the tribes placed a high value on design improvement by filling the spaces with small designs without loosing the overall stability of the main design.
The closest technique of weaving is found in the Kashmir shawls where the two dimensional fabric is made with the design on one side, leaving the loose threads inside. Because of its similarity in technique and fineness, Sumakhs were also called Kashmir. A long needle with a hook is used to insert the different threads between the warp and weft.
Aubusson is woven in France using the Kilim or slit-tapestry technique. The term is also used to refer to the familiar design of these rugs, which generally feature a floral medallion worked in pastel shades. First flat-weave Aubussons appeared in about 1768. In making the Aubusson, the weaver pulls the colored yarns of weft through neutral-colored warp threads that will make a smooth-surfaced fabric that runs the width of the finished rug. The resulting weave is like the weave employed for tapestries, but heavier and thicker.
There are three types of dye used:
- Vegetable dye
- Analine dye in 1856
- Chrome dye in 1930
The manuscript painters were a great source for carpet designs. The tulip design which originated in Turkey evolved from the calligraphers’s brush to ceramic forms, into carpets. The collaboration between the Islamic architects and designers and weavers is quite evident. Variety as well as, repetition is the theme in this art form. Compared to the modern artists, the ancient art of rug weaving was mostly anonymous by artists who left the rugs unsigned. Sometimes pieces are signed like the Ardebil Mosque rug signed by Maqsood of Kashan, as a prayer of art dedicated to god and to the Mosque.
Oushak rugs of 15th century Turkey are used in paintings of Lorenzo Lotto and Hans Holbein. From several documentary sources we know that Turkish and Persian rugs were used as table covers, wall hangings, trappings for horses and carriages, alters, pulpit and communion table decorations. They also were used in marriages and funeral rituals. Hungary and Transylvania were influenced by the Ottoman.
From the antiques of Isfahan, Ardebil, and Mongol carpets, down to the pieces that are manufactured today in India, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Romania, the same imagination persists – a flower garden, the open air, life. In antique rugs the field is closely covered and stems, leaves, and tendrils pave the winding paths of multicolored flowers and vines on which the design is formed. The arabesques, panels, corner pieces and figures are all balanced. There is a perfection in detail and composition which adds a special charm to the old rugs. In later years, a medallion was added to the design bringing a centerpiece therefore the repeat pattern became more unusual. Though, centuries have come and gone, many of the classic patterns are still used. The cone, which has become paisley, the rosette and serrated leaves of the Herati pattern, the growing vine, the rose, carnation, lily, peony, the star like Henna blossoms, the palmette, the pomegranate, the shah abbas and the Minakhani patterns, the turtle, the Chinese knot of destiny with birds, trees and animals are all still used.