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1. How an Oriental Rug is Made

An Oriental Rug is predominantly made of natural fibres, mainly wool but sometimes silk (as in the case of wall hangings) and cotton. The following simple diagram illustrates the steps from the beginning to the end of the entire process:

How an Oriental Rug is Made

2. The Parts of a Rug

The diagram below shows the different parts of a rug, and how they combine to create the finished item.

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

WEFT  The threads running across the width of the rug inserted between 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 rug.

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

SELVEDGE  A simple wrapping of dyed yarn along the length of both sides of the rug. Sometimes known as overcasting.

FRINGE  The visible continuation of the warp threads at both ends of the rug which can be tied in different ways. Some very good rugs may not have a fringe, such as Qum. This is the style of the rug.

KELIM  This can refer to the pileless web of weft and warp between the rug's pile and knotted fringe. This is also the name for a rug without pile.

3. Types of Oriental Rug Construction

There are three main methods of construction:
Flat Woven, Knotted and Tufted.



Construction of a flat-woven rug

Rugs are usually known as Kilims or Kelims in Turkey, Gelims in Persia, or Dhurries in India. Kilim is a general name for any non-pile rug of the Middle East. However, more precisely kilim means a tapestry or flat-woven rug as distinguished from rugs of different construction such as knotted pile rugs. There are also different methods of weaving kilims, the best known being slit-weave and Soumaks.


Different types of knot

There are two major kinds of knots found in oriental rugs. One is the Turkish knot or Ghiordes knot, and the other is the Persian knot or Senneh knot. A third, less used and less desired knot is the Jufti knot. This knot is considered inferior, as half the number of knots are used, therefore the rug is produced in half the amount of time using half the amount of wool.

Knots detail

It is important to understand how to count knots correctly. Knots per square inch is a term frequently used, often as a guage of a rug's quality. The number of knots per square inch determines the density of weave and intensifies the definition of the design. In very fine woven rugs the design is as clear on the back as on the front. Finely woven rugs are generally speaking more expensive. Counting knots on an oriental rug is easy to learn. On the back of a handknotted rug you will see thousands of tiny squarish "bumps". These are the visible part of the knots that loop around the warp threads.

The map below demonstrates the type of knot used by each region:

Who uses which knot?