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 antique Persian rugs. It can be difficult to discern the fakes from the authentic ones. While abrash in rugs is one indication to determine oriental rug authenticity, it’s not the only indication. So it is important to look for certain features to avoid getting bilked and wasting your money on a Persian rug lookalike.
How to Tell If a Persian Rug is Authentic?
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.
➜ Learn more about Persian Rugs vs Other Oriental Rugs
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.
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 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 by using the right Persian rug cleaning techniques.
- 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.
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.
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 Persian rug valuation of your fine piece of art. 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 professional Sydney Persian rug cleaning services for your Persian and Oriental rugs, to make sure they remain beautiful for decades. Our rug maintenance services include cleaning, rug 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.