Is that Persian Rug Authentic?

Persian rug authentic

What to Know Before Buying a Persian Rug

Are you looking for a beautiful Persian rug to add to your décor? Persian rugs are definitely a fine addition to your home, but you should be sure that they are authentic before you purchase them.

Most people aren’t experts in Persian rugs. It can be difficult to discern the fakes from the authentic ones. But it is important to look for certain features to avoid getting bilked and wasting your money on a Persian rug lookalike. Here are some things to consider before buying.

Country Where the Rug Was Made

True, authentic Persian rugs are only manufactured in Iran (the country formerly known as Persia). Rugs from this region are all made by hand, not by a machine. There are fine rugs that are hand-made in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and other countries in the Orient. However, they are not considered Persian rugs unless they are specifically made in Iran. That’s not to say that rugs made outside Iran can’t be comparable in terms of quality, just that Persian rugs are considered the world’s best.

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Machine-Made vs. Hand-Knotted

Authentic Persian rugs are all hand-knotted, whereas the “fake” ones are made using machines. Machine made rugs are made by large machines called power looms. A power loom is electrically automated and controlled by computers. Machine made rugs are made quickly and are manufactured with materials that include synthetic fibres such as polypropylene, nylon, polyester, acrylic, artificial silk and, sometimes, wool.

And don’t confuse “hand tufted” for hand-knotted. Hand-knotting is a meticulous process that takes a great deal of time, training and effort. The hand-tufting technique uses a tufting gun that punches a design into a canvas backing. Rugs made from tufting are not nearly as durable as hand-knotted ones, and will only last a few years because of the glue backing which tends to deteriorate relatively quickly. Genuine hand-knotted Persian rugs can last a lifetime.

Design Pattern and Backing

The design of hand-knotted rugs will often not be perfect throughout. Because they are made using wooden looms, the pattern will be a little off in some places, which can actually add to the value of the rug. Check both the front and back of the rug. and look closely to see if there any small anomalies in the pattern. The imperfections are usually seen in village or tribal rugs and in some city-made rugs as well. Rugs made in the cities of Esfahan, Nain, Tabriz and Qum are usually nearly perfect in design and pattern.

True Persian rugs will have a soft backing and the pattern will be a mirror image on both sides. If there is a plastic mesh covering on the back side of the rug, that means the rug was made with synthetic materials and is not authentic. The mesh holds the synthetic material together.

If you are buying in person from a source that offers a variety of rugs, look through the stock carefully. Authentic Persian rugs will typically have at least some minor variations in design and pattern, whereas machine-made rug patterns can be easily duplicated.

Fringe

If the authentic Persian rug includes a fringe, it will look like an extension of the rug itself because it is part of the core of the rug’s structure. When rugs are made by machines, the fringe is sewn or glued on after the body of the rug is complete. Hand-knotted rugs start with the fringe on the loom, then the knots on the body of the rug are structured around it.

Look closely at the area where the rug is connected to the fringe. If you can see that the fringe flows from the rug weave, it is genuine.

Persian rug authentic

Materials

Persian rugs are made using only one of three materials: wool, cotton or silk – and in extremely rare cases, gold thread. The machine-made, non-authentic Persian rugs are made from synthetic materials like viscose, polypropylene, nylon, acrylic and polyester. Synthetic materials are less expensive than the natural ones, but they last a fraction of the time.

To summarize, here are some pros and cons of synthetic versus natural fibres:

  • Persian rugs made from natural wool, cotton or silk will remain beautiful for decades, even a lifetime. Synthetic rugs may last 5-10 years, even with regular professional cleaning.
  • Persian rugs feel softer and look more luxurious.
  • Hand-knotted rugs can be restored to near new condition with proper cleaning and maintenance.
  • Wool rugs are flame resistant, while synthetic materials can be highly flammable.
  • Synthetic rugs are cheaper, but much lower in quality and require replacing more frequently.
  • Natural fibres are better for the environment.

Colours

Genuine hand-knotted Persian rugs most often use natural, vegetable dyes to colour the fibres. These natural dyes retain their brightness and beauty much longer and are more resistant to staining and fading. The strands of materials used in authentic Persian rugs are individually dyed, are colourfast, and do not bleed.

Choosing a Rug Merchant

Dealing with a reputable merchant is paramount to getting the beautiful, long-lasting rug you want. They should offer at least a 24-hour trial period, allowing you to see how the rug looks in your home. (If you’re doubtful as to the rug’s authenticity, this will also provide an opportunity for you to look closely yourself.)

The rug dealer should be knowledgeable about Persian rugs and able to answer all your questions. Ideally, they should provide guidance on choosing the rug that’s right for you and your home. There are many Persian rug sizes, colours and designs available and finding the right piece requires care and patience. A reputable dealer will always be transparent about a rug’s origin and never pressure you to make a quick decision. 

Check the Descriptions and Labels

Read the seller’s descriptions thoroughly. If you’re looking for an authentic Persian rug, make sure the description says “handwoven” or “hand-knotted”.

Read the labels on the rugs. They should include the materials used in the rug. If the label indicates it was made from wool, it should be soft. If it is dull or rough to the touch, the wool may be of a lower quality or recycled. If the label indicates the rug is made of silk, it could be manufactured silk or natural silk.

The labels should include the origin of the rug. Only rugs made in Iran are genuine Persian rugs.

Purchase Price

As with any investment or work of art, you pay for what you get. Producing a genuine hand-made Persian rug demands an enormous amount of time and skills. Authentic Persian rugs will cost more but will outlast machine-made or synthetic rugs by decades!

Just like any other retailor, a rug merchant calculates a sale price based on a number of factors – including the origin, quality, availability and overall cost. Sometimes there be room for a discounted final price but it’s best to approach the topic politely. A good rug dealer would never want you feel uncomfortable when discussing price.

Get an Appraisal

Since a genuine Persian rug is an investment that you expect to last for decades, you may want to include it in your homeowner’s insurance policy. In the unfortunate event that it is damaged or stolen, having it insured can offer peace of mind that your investment will be lost.

Have a reputable source provide an accurate appraisal of your fine Persian rugs. They will inspect and evaluate the rug and provide a written valuation to present to your insurance company.

If the rug is particularly valuable (for instance, over $2000), you should consider insuring it independently of your home contents policy. The value of a rug needs to be documented with professional appraisal to ensure proper coverage in case of accident. An experienced rug dealer should be able to offer this service.

Bijan Exclusive Rugs in Sydney Is Your Local Expert and Source for Authentic Persian Rugs.

Bijan is your trusted source for Persian rugs. We have the extensive knowledge and expertise on all factors to determine between authentic Persian rugs and all others. We have over 6500 rugs available for you to choose from, including hand-made and machine-made varieties.

In business since 1990, Bijan knows rugs. We are happy to answer any questions when deciding on your purchase. We offer a free home trial service so you can try out your purchase in your home to make sure it’s what you want.

Bijan offers cleaning services for your Persian and Oriental rugs, to make sure they remain beautiful for decades. Our rug maintenance services include cleaning, repair, spot treatment, stain removal (pets, wine, etc.), fringe repair, reweaving, moth damage repair, and more.

We also offer rug rentals for special events and occasions. If you need a specific carpet to enhance your photo shoots, awards ceremonies, weddings, property staging, corporate events or any other situation, we can provide short- or long-term rug rental.

Bijan Exclusive Rugs in Sydney is your source for all your traditional and modern rug needs.

Why Persian Rugs Are Superior to other Oriental Rugs

When it comes to Persian rugs, there are many variations. They can have different styles, colours, weaves, materials and the like. They can be made by hand or can be machine-made. So how do you choose which one is best for you, your family and your lifestyle? This article will hopefully help educate you on what is available so you can be more comfortable when you purchase.

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Persian Versus Oriental Rugs

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an Oriental rug is defined as: “a handwoven or hand-knotted one-piece rug or carpet made in a country in central or southern Asia”.  In more modern times, these rugs can also be made using machines, as well. Oriental rugs can originate from various countries in Asia or the Middle East, including Turkey, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran (formerly known as Persia), China, Egypt, India and Pakistan, among others.

There are Oriental rugs and there are Persian rugs. Technically, Persian rugs fall into the Oriental rug category, but they are very specific type. So – what’s the difference? The most obvious answer is that they are made in different locations, but Persian rugs are only made in Iran.

The more subtle, but important difference between Oriental and Persian rugs is the craftsmanship used in making them. While Oriental rugs can certainly be a beautiful addition to any room, Persian rugs are often considered higher in quality. Oriental rugs are tied with a symmetrical Ghiordes knot. Persian rugs are most often hand knotted using an asymmetrical or Senneh knot.

Persian rugs are usually considered the highest quality Oriental rugs in the world and feature high knot counts. The painstaking craftsmanship that goes into making a Persian rug is unique. Another distinction of Persian rugs is that they often have more intricate designs.

Although they are called Persian rugs because of the original location in which they were made, the modern differentiation lies with its style, technique, and design, not the country it was crafted in. However, even if the knot styles are alike, a rug cannot be called Persian unless it was actually made in the country of Iran.

Persian Rugs

There are many different types of Persian rugs. Most of their designs are named after the village, tribe or city where they were traditionally made. Areas include Isfahan, Nain, Tabriz, Mashhad, Kerman and Kashan. Each region makes its rugs using their own unique styles and patterns.

Some of the finer Persian rugs can have up to 160 knots per square inch, like rugs from the cities of Qum, Isfahan and Tabriz. They often have extremely rich colour combinations and unique designs like husks, pomegranates, jugs, crosses and combs.

City, Village and Tribal Rugs

City rugs are usually made in a formal and systematic way – coordinating the work of a designer, colour master, dye master, master weaver and junior weaver. During production, the team works closely together to create as perfect a finished product as is possible. Non-City rugs are categorized into two subgroups – village rugs and tribal rugs.

One of the main differences in the production methods between village and tribal rugs is the loom used. In villages, they use vertical stationary looms which enable the creation of larger pieces. Tribal rugs are made by nomadic artisans in a much less systematic way–often by mothers and daughters–and require a loom that can be transported from place to place. Tribal rugs are limited in size as a result. The most famous tribes are Ghashghai, Bakhtiari and Turkoman.

The “Persian knot” is used in constructing Persian rugs. (It can also be used in other Oriental rugs as well.) This type of knot is different in that it is less bulky and doesn’t leave gaps between knots. Using the Persian knot allows the craftsman to create more intricate designs. Think pixels on a TV screen – the more pixels, the sharper the picture.

An authentic Persian rug will always be hand knotted. The higher the knot count, the more valuable the rug is. The way to make sure the rug you’re considering purchasing is an authentic Persian hand-knotted one is to inspect the rug. It should have the following features:

  • The underside of the rug is an exact image of the top.
  • The bottom is soft and made of the same material as the top.
  • If the rug has a fringe, it will be part of the structure of the rug, not sewn on separately.
Materials

Persian rugs are made using only one of three materials: wool, cotton or silk. They are never made using synthetic fibres like polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, viscose, jute or any other artificial materials.

Wool is the more commonly-used material for Persian rugs. Historically, the Persian tribes raised sheep as a source of food, but also used the wool for the rugs. Wool also contains lanolin, which is naturally found in domestic sheep wool. This preserves the fibres, which is why Persian rugs can last hundreds of years, provided that they are properly cleaned and washed every 3-4 years.

Design

Traditional Persian rugs are created using one of four design patterns:

  1. All over – a geometric or floral pattern that repeats across the entire area of the rug.
  2. Central medallion – a circular, oval, or contrasting design in the center of the carpet. The central feature can be a geometric design, animal, contrasting blank space, even text.
  3. Compartment – similar to the all-over design, it’s a repeating pattern of discrete geometric or floral designs, much like a patchwork quilt. Each compartment can be square, diamond, or an interlocking design.
  4. One-sided – an asymmetrical pattern, where the design differs on each half of the rug, lengthwise. Each half, however, is symmetrical.

Persian rugs are usually made using warm-toned colours, like deep indigo, red, golden yellow, sage green and ivory.

Machine-made and Hybrid Persian Rugs

Yes, we stated that “authentic” Persian rugs were hand-made, which is technically true. However, there are rugs that are still made in Persia (modern-day Iran) by machines, or power looms, run by computers. These are made from wool or synthetic fibres.

Machine-made Persian rugs can be produced much more quickly and cost less than the hand-made ones. The downside is that they are not of the same quality and only have a fraction of the lifespan as their hand-made counterparts. In fact, the machine-made version may last less than 20 years, so they are not considered investments like the authentic ones are.

Hybrid Persian rugs, also called “hand-crafted” or “hand-tufted” rugs use a hand-held drill gun that loops the pile into the cloth foundation. They are finished with a latex coating and canvas fabric backing. The hybrids are a step above the machine-made rugs in appearance and quality, but they still won’t improve with ages as the hand-made rugs do, so are not sought by collectors as investments. They are usually made in India and China.

Oriental Rugs

Basically, any rug made in many Asian countries using similar designs and a variety of materials. They can all be handmade, machine-made or a hybrid of both methods. As Wikipedia states, “An oriental rug is a heavy textile, made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes, produced in ‘Oriental countries’ for home use, local sale, and export. Oriental carpets can be pile woven or flat woven without pile, using various materials such as silk, wool, and cotton.”

Country of origin and location can be two of the major differences between Persian and Oriental  rugs. Rugs crafted in Oriental countries like China, Turkey, Tibet, India, Pakistan and Egypt are referred to as Oriental rugs, even though they could be crafted in the same way as Persian rugs. But in modern history, Oriental rugs may be named more for their style, design and technique.

There are many different types of Oriental rugs and not all are included here.

Ziegler Rugs

Ziegler rugs are a traditional style of Oriental rug named after the design created by the Ziegler German company in the 1880s. They are also called “Chobi Ziegler” rugs. Chobi is a Persian word for “wood” that describes the rustic colours in the rugs. These rugs use more muted colours and classic designs.

Chobi Ziegler Oriental rugs are high quality but are more reasonably priced than Persian or other high-end Oriental rugs. This is because they are usually made with lower knot counts.

Ikat Rugs

The Ikat Oriental rug is named after their unique design pattern that is created by dying and over-dying the material. This process produces more colour variation and depth than some other types of Oriental rugs. Some of the Ikat designs may have historical significance, while others are simply aesthetic. Ikat rugs are lower in knot count than some other high-end Oriental rugs, so can be less expensive to purchase.

Bokhara Rugs

The Bokhara Oriental rug originated in historic Bukhara, which is in modern-day Uzbekistan. Although these rugs are still made in Bukhara, they are also being made in many other countries.

Bokhara rugs feature asymmetrical knot counts and are priced according to how many knots are used. The design features classic colours with oval-shaped motifs and a cleaner background than other Oriental rugs. They are traditionally designed with tones of rich red but also feature green, rose, ivory and grey hues.

Kilims

Kilims are named after their design. “Kilim” refers to the Persian word “gelim”, meaning “spreading roughly” These rugs have a unique linear design with bold colours and are made using a flat weave.

Because of their flat weave design, Kilims rugs are not as plush as many other Oriental rugs. They feature straight lines, squares and rectangles in colours like red, navy, deep gold and forest green.

There are many other types of Oriental rugs, all having their own style, patterns, design technique, and value. Some include Baluchi, Gabbeh, Heriz, Kazak, Khan Mamdi, Shairwan, Qashqai and more.

What Oriental Rug Is Right for YOU?

All Oriental rugs are unique and beautiful. Authentic, hand-crafted rugs will increase in value over time and will actually become more beautiful as they age.

If you’re looking for an Oriental rug, you need to decide what you like in terms of style, how much you want to pay and the reason you’re buying it. If you want an investment, it’s better to spend more on the finely handcrafted Persian rugs.

Bijan Exclusive Rugs in Sydney Is Your Local Expert and Source for Fine Persian Rugs

If you have any questions about Persian or Oriental rugs, please give us a call or visit our showrooms. We love, and know, rugs and are always happy to help you with your decision.