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Oriental Rug Guide

RUG CONSTRUCTION AND MATERIALS

In order to protect your Oriental rugs,it is important to understand what goes into making an Oriental rug. This general description, of course, is not exhaustive as to the types of looms, knots, and different kinds of wools that are used but it will give you an idea about the construction of Oriental rugs. It will also help you understand why Oriental rugs should be treated with care so that they could last into the next generation while enhancing the beauty of your home, and increasing in value. You can also check our rug care and cleaning tips to keep your rug looking as beautiful as the day you bought it.

CONSTRUCTION OF A RUG
An Oriental rug is made on a frame called a loom. Columns of thread are stretched from the top to the bottom of the loom. Each thread is called a warp. In a finished rug these warps appear as fringes. The knots are later tied on the warp threads to form the pile and design of the rug. Therefore, the warp threads (fringes) are the foundation of a rug and despite what most people think are not sewn to either end of the rug for looks.

It is very important to keep the fringe from wearing and tearing off, since once the fringe is worn the knots start to come out from the ends. If the fringe on your Oriental rug is worn close to the pile an overcast at either end of the rug or perhaps the replacement of some of the fringes is necessary. Consult one of Safavieh’s experts for the proper approach. Never cut the fringe of your Oriental rug because you do not like the looks of it. You can always fold under and tape it to the back.

KILIM WEAVE
Once the warps are arranged up and down the loom, and before the actual knotting process begins, the weavers usually make a kilim weave. This weave is intended to secure the knots from coming out from either end of the rug. In some rugs the entire fringe at the bottom of the rug is in the form of kilim weave. This weave can be easily undone to appear as fringes. If your rug has such a construction it is our advice to leave the kilim weave as is, since that is the best protection for the knots. If you wish to undo the kilim weave, make sure an overcast is sewn on the end of the pile.

KNOTS
After the kilim weave is completed the weaver’s most artistry begins. For the more intricate and sophisticated designs the weaver is usually equipped with a design on a graph paper. Each square on the graph paper is colored according to the designer’s taste. By looking at the design, the weaver takes the corresponding color wool or silk and ties one (single knot) or two (double knot)of the warp threads to the next one or two warps and makes a knot.

The knots are done in sideways rows and each knot is individually tied onto the warp threads. If your Oriental rug has a cigarette burn or a small stain that can in no way be cleaned, or even a hole, our expert weavers can replace those knots with new ones. Consult one of Safavieh’s experts for the proper approach.

LEARN HOW TO TELL A HANDMADE RUG FROM ONE MADE BY MACHINE
You may have an Oriental design rug in the family that you don’t know of its origin. A sure way to tell the difference between a handmade and a machine made rug is by spreading the pile apart and looking down. If you see the knots at the bottom of the pile, the rug was made by hand. There is also a sharpness and clarity to the design of a handmade rug that can never be duplicated by machine.

WEFT THREADS
Because the knots are independent of each other, and every knot in a new row is tied on the same warp threads, it may seem that the rug is noting but columns of knots that are not attached together sideways. Not true. The columns are kept together so tightly because of weft threads.

On top of every row of knots, one, two, or more weft threads, depending on the type of rug, is placed. These threads go back and forth across the width of the rug every time a row of knots is completed. Often, the weft thread ends in the middle of a crossing at which point it is tied to another piece of thread. The ends of these ties come out in the pile. Since the weft threads are usually white cotton, they are referred to as white knots.

Every Oriental rug has white knots. In rugs with a high pile, however, they cannot be seen until the pile wears down. If the white knots appear, do not attempt to cut these threads as an indentation or sometimes a small hole will result. These knots can easily be taken care of by an expert without damage to the rug and should be part of periodic maintenance of the rug.

SIDE EDGES
If you check the side edges of your Oriental rug you will see that the rug is finished with a stiff binding. These bindings do the same job for the sides of the rug as the kilim weave does for the ends. They protect the knots. Check the side edges for signs of wear. The worn parts should be replaced.

THE PROBLEM WITH HUMIDITY
Humid weather is the number one enemy for the warp and weft threads of your Oriental rugs. Most Oriental rugs have a cotton warp and weft and over the years they may absorb humidity and begin to rot. This is a problem that is often seen in the older rugs due to lack of maintenance and is almost never detected by the untrained eye. Before the warp and weft threads rot, they tend to dry out and that portion of the carpet stiffens. A periodic check-up by an expert and replacement of the dry warps can easily stop this problem. Never place a plant directly on top of your Oriental carpet, or leave the carpet wet as in the case of a water spillage.

THE PROBLEM OF MOTHS
Moths love wool. Especially where there is lack of air circulation. Should you be storing your rugs be sure to anticipate moth damage. By including a few commercially available moth balls, you will provide adequate protection.

UNEVEN WEAR
Study your traffic patterns on the rug. If there is constant traffic on one portion of the rug, turn the rug around every year. This will insure equal traffic and wear on all sides of your rug.

UNEVEN FADING
Over many years of exposure to the sun, most Oriental rugs will fade in color and brightness. That is not a problem as long as the fading is even throughout the rug. As new rugs age, the bright colors will fade into beautiful soft tones. This is one reason why older rugs are more desirable.

THE PROBLEM WITH COLOR RUNS
Both vegetable dyes and chemical dyes may run if the rug is improperly washed. Even a water spillage on the carpet may cause color run. Experts in Safavieh’s service department can clean the color run and restore the beauty of your Oriental rug.

We hope that this information has been helpful in establishing a general understanding of Oriental rugs, and protecting them against some of the most common problems. Here’s some more information on How to Choose A Rug, which you may also find helpful in selecting the right rug for your home or office.

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