Oriental Rugs FAQ

In What Way Are Oriental Rugs Unique?

Oriental rugs are different from all others in that their pile is tied to their foundations. Because of this, they are referred to as hand-knotted rugs, and this accounts for both why they last so long and also, their expense.


What Country Makes the Best Rugs?

No one country has established itself as making the best rugs. Many of the best rugs today come from Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nepal and China. A small production of tribal rugs with a lot of character come out of Afghanistan.


Natural vs. Synthetic Dyes

Dyes made from natural substances such as roots- have been used in Oriental rugs for virtually thousands of years, or they were until about World War Two. By that time, synthetic dyes had almost entirely taken the place of natural dyes. Starting in about 1980, natural dyes again began to be used in a few rugs, and today both natural and synthetic dyes are used in Oriental rugs. For all practical purposes, both are excellent.


What is Abrash?

Colours change in horizontal bands throughout rugs. A band of darker blue, for instance, may lie between larger areas of lighter blue. That kind of colour-variation is called abrash. Most often abrash is caused by variation in dye lots and is most often encountered when rugs are woven in relatively primitive conditions where each dye lot may consist of only 20 or 30 gallons- as opposed to dye mixed in cities that may consist of 500 or 1000 gallon batches. But there are other causes of abrash as well. There can be large differences in the kind and the natural colour of wool used in one rug, and each wool absorbs dye a little differently. Also, when wool is spun by hand, the tension of the spin varies and consequently so does the capacity of the wool to absorb dye.


Is abrash a flaw?

The answer lies in the eyes of the beholder. Strong abrash is not appropriate to finely knotted rugs and carpets made in city workshop conditions—rugs like Kashans and Nains that seem to aim for a kind of perfection. On the other hand, in tribal and village rugs, abrash often looks good and is by no means a flaw.


What is Kilim?

A Kilim is a flat-woven Oriental rug, made much like Navajo rugs, without pile. They don’t last as long in floor-use as a knotted carpet—perhaps an average of about 35 years—nor do they cost as much. Many collectors value kilims because often they retain the oldest and most traditional designs and colours.

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