• Hand woven Oriental Rug on a vertical loom
  • Weaving a hand woven Oriental rug on a horizontal loom
  • Selection of natural dye dye materials used in dyeing wool for Persian and Turkish Oriental rugs and carpets
  • Persian and Turkish Oriental rug weaving tools

Rug Buyers Guide

Materials, Techniques & Structures

INTRODUCTION
MATERIALS
KNOTS
LOOMS
TOOLS
VIDEO

The Foundation – Warp and Weft

Turkish and Persian Carpet Weaving TechniquesThe weaving of pile rugs is a difficult and tedious process which, depending on the quality and size of the rug, may take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete. To begin making a rug, one needs a foundation consisting of warps: strong threads of cotton, wool or silk which run the length of the rug and wefts of similar threads which pass under and over the warps from one side to the other. The warps on either side of the rug are normally combined into one or more cables of varying thickness that are overcast to form the selvedge.

Weaving normally begins by passing a number of wefts through the bottom to form a base to start from. Loosely piled knots of dyed wool or silk are then tied around consecutive sets of adjacent warps to create the intricate patterns in the rug. As more rows of are tied to the foundation, these knots become the pile of the rug. Between each row of knots, one or more shots of weft are passed to tightly pack down and secure the rows.

Depending on the fineness of the weave, the quality of the materials and the expertise of the weavers, in general the knot count of a handmade rug can vary anywhere from 16 to 800 per square inch. And in some cases of the fine silk can go up to 3,300 knots per square inch. When the rug is completed, the warp ends form the fringes that may be weft-faced, braided, tassled or secured in some other manner.

Materials

Natutal Dye Carpet Weaving Materials Wool is the most common material for carpets but cotton is frequently used for the foundation of carpets made in the cities and workshops. A wide variety of types of wool were used for weaving, including Kork wool, Manchester wool, and in some cases even camel hair wool. Silk carpets date back to at least the sixteenth century in Sabzevar Iran and the seventeenth century in Kashan Iran and Yazd. Silk carpets are less common than wool carpets since silk is more expensive and less durable. Therefore silk carpets tend to increase in value with age. Due to their rarity, value and lack of durability, silk carpets are often displayed on the wall like tapestries rather than being used as floor coverings.

Knots

Turkish Knot and Persian Knot Two basic knots are used in most Persian and Turkish rugs: the symmetrical Turkish or Ghiordes knot (used in Turkey, the Caucasus, East Turkmenistan, and some Turkish and Kurdish areas of Iran), and the asymmetrical Persian or Senneh knot (Iran, India, Turkey, Pakistan, China, and Egypt). To make a Turkish knot, the yarn is passed between two adjacent warps, brought back under one, wrapped around both forming a collar, then pulled through the center so that both ends emerge between the warps.

Looms

Horizontal Loom and Vertical LoomLooms do not vary greatly in essential details, but they do vary in size and sophistication. The main technical requirement of the loom is to provide the correct tension and the means of dividing the warps into alternate sets of leaves. A shedding device allows the weaver to pass wefts through crossed and uncrossed warps, instead of laboriously threading the weft in and out of the warps.

Horizontal Looms

The simplest form of loom is a horizontal; one that can be staked to the ground or supported by sidepieces on the ground. The necessary tension can be obtained through the use of wedges. This style of loom is ideal for nomadic people as it can be assembled or dismantled and is easily transportable. Rugs produced on horizontal looms are generally fairly small and the weave quality is inferior to those rugs made on a professional standing loom.

Vertical Looms

Vertical looms are used mostly by weavers living in cities and those living a sedentary lifestyle, because they are hard to dismantle and transport. There is no limit to the length of the carpet that can be woven on a vertical loom and there is no restriction to its width.

There are three broad groups of vertical looms: the fixed village loom, the Tabriz or Bunyan loom, and the roller beam loom.

Fixed Village Loom: Used mainly in Iran and consists of a fixed upper beam and a moveable lower or cloth beam which slots into two sidepieces. The correct tension is created by driving wedges into the slots. The weavers work on an adjustable plank which is raised as the work progresses.

Tabriz Loom: Named after the city of Tabriz, is used in North Western Iran. The warps are continuous and pass around behind the loom. Tension is obtained with wedges. The weavers sit on a fixed seat and when a portion of the carpet has been completed, the tension is released and the carpet is pulled down and rolled around the back of the loom. This process continues until the rug is completed, when the warps are severed and the carpet is taken off the loom.

Roller Beam Loom: Traditional Turkish village loom, but also found in Persia and India. It consists of two movable beams to which the warps are attached. Both beams are fitted with ratchets or similar locking devices and completed work is rolled on to the lower beam. It is possible to weave very long rugs by these means, and in some areas of Turkey rugs are woven in series.

Tools

Turkish and Persian Carpet Weaving ToolsIn order to operate the loom, the weaver needs a number of essential tools: a knife for cutting the yarn as the knots are tied; a comb-like instrument for packing down the wefts; and a pair of shears for trimming the pile.

In Tabriz the knife is combined with a hook to tie the knots which lets the weavers produce very fine rugs, as their fingers alone are too thick to do the job. A small steel comb is sometimes used to comb out the yarn after each row of knots is completed. This both tightens the weave and clarifies the design.

A variety of instruments are used for packing the weft. Some weaving areas in Iran known for producing very fine pieces use additional tools. In Kerman, a saber like instrument is used horizontally inside the shed, and in Bijar a heavy nail-like tool is used. Bijar is also famous for their wet loom technique, which consists of wetting the warp, weft, and yarn with water throughout the weaving process to make the elements tighter, thinner and finer. When the rug is complete and dried, the wool and cotton expand to make the rug incredibly dense and strong.

A number of different tools may be used to shear the wool depending on how the rug is trimmed as the rug progresses or when it is complete. Often in Chinese rugs, the yarn is trimmed after the rug is completed and the rug trim is slanted where the color changes. This creates an embossed three dimensional effect.

INTRODUCTION

The Foundation – Warp and Weft

Turkish and Persian Carpet Weaving Techniques

The weaving of pile rugs is a difficult and tedious process which, depending on the quality and size of the rug, may take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete. To begin making a rug, one needs a foundation consisting of warps: strong threads of cotton, wool or silk which run the length of the rug and wefts of similar threads which pass under and over the warps from one side to the other. The warps on either side of the rug are normally combined into one or more cables of varying thickness that are overcast to form the selvedge.

Weaving normally begins by passing a number of wefts through the bottom to form a base to start from. Loosely piled knots of dyed wool or silk are then tied around consecutive sets of adjacent warps to create the intricate patterns in the rug. As more rows of are tied to the foundation, these knots become the pile of the rug. Between each row of knots, one or more shots of weft are passed to tightly pack down and secure the rows.

Depending on the fineness of the weave, the quality of the materials and the expertise of the weavers, in general the knot count of a handmade rug can vary anywhere from 16 to 800 per square inch. And in some cases of the fine silk can go up to 3,300 knots per square inch. When the rug is completed, the warp ends form the fringes that may be weft-faced, braided, tassled or secured in some other manner.

MATERIALS

Materials

Natutal Dye Carpet Weaving Materials

Wool is the most common material for carpets but cotton is frequently used for the foundation of carpets made in the cities and workshops. A wide variety of types of wool were used for weaving, including Kork wool, Manchester wool, and in some cases even camel hair wool. Silk carpets date back to at least the sixteenth century in Sabzevar Iran and the seventeenth century in Kashan Iran and Yazd. Silk carpets are less common than wool carpets since silk is more expensive and less durable. Therefore silk carpets tend to increase in value with age. Due to their rarity, value and lack of durability, silk carpets are often displayed on the wall like tapestries rather than being used as floor coverings.

KNOTS

Turkish Knot and Persian Knot

Two basic knots are used in most Persian and Turkish rugs: the symmetrical Turkish or Ghiordes knot (used in Turkey, the Caucasus, East Turkmenistan, and some Turkish and Kurdish areas of Iran), and the asymmetrical Persian or Senneh knot (Iran, India, Turkey, Pakistan, China, and Egypt). To make a Turkish knot, the yarn is passed between two adjacent warps, brought back under one, wrapped around both forming a collar, then pulled through the center so that both ends emerge between the warps.

LOOMS

Looms

Horizontal Loom and Vertical Loom

Looms do not vary greatly in essential details, but they do vary in size and sophistication. The main technical requirement of the loom is to provide the correct tension and the means of dividing the warps into alternate sets of leaves. A shedding device allows the weaver to pass wefts through crossed and uncrossed warps, instead of laboriously threading the weft in and out of the warps.

Horizontal Looms

The simplest form of loom is a horizontal; one that can be staked to the ground or supported by sidepieces on the ground. The necessary tension can be obtained through the use of wedges. This style of loom is ideal for nomadic people as it can be assembled or dismantled and is easily transportable. Rugs produced on horizontal looms are generally fairly small and the weave quality is inferior to those rugs made on a professional standing loom.

Vertical Looms

Vertical looms are used mostly by weavers living in cities and those living a sedentary lifestyle, because they are hard to dismantle and transport. There is no limit to the length of the carpet that can be woven on a vertical loom and there is no restriction to its width.

There are three broad groups of vertical looms: the fixed village loom, the Tabriz or Bunyan loom, and the roller beam loom.

Fixed Village Loom: Used mainly in Iran and consists of a fixed upper beam and a moveable lower or cloth beam which slots into two sidepieces. The correct tension is created by driving wedges into the slots. The weavers work on an adjustable plank which is raised as the work progresses.

Tabriz Loom: Named after the city of Tabriz, is used in North Western Iran. The warps are continuous and pass around behind the loom. Tension is obtained with wedges. The weavers sit on a fixed seat and when a portion of the carpet has been completed, the tension is released and the carpet is pulled down and rolled around the back of the loom. This process continues until the rug is completed, when the warps are severed and the carpet is taken off the loom.

Roller Beam Loom: Traditional Turkish village loom, but also found in Persia and India. It consists of two movable beams to which the warps are attached. Both beams are fitted with ratchets or similar locking devices and completed work is rolled on to the lower beam. It is possible to weave very long rugs by these means, and in some areas of Turkey rugs are woven in series.

TOOLS

Turkish and Persian Carpet Weaving Tools

In order to operate the loom, the weaver needs a number of essential tools: a knife for cutting the yarn as the knots are tied; a comb-like instrument for packing down the wefts; and a pair of shears for trimming the pile.

In Tabriz the knife is combined with a hook to tie the knots which lets the weavers produce very fine rugs, as their fingers alone are too thick to do the job. A small steel comb is sometimes used to comb out the yarn after each row of knots is completed. This both tightens the weave and clarifies the design.

A variety of instruments are used for packing the weft. Some weaving areas in Iran known for producing very fine pieces use additional tools. In Kerman, a saber like instrument is used horizontally inside the shed, and in Bijar a heavy nail-like tool is used. Bijar is also famous for their wet loom technique, which consists of wetting the warp, weft, and yarn with water throughout the weaving process to make the elements tighter, thinner and finer. When the rug is complete and dried, the wool and cotton expand to make the rug incredibly dense and strong.

A number of different tools may be used to shear the wool depending on how the rug is trimmed as the rug progresses or when it is complete. Often in Chinese rugs, the yarn is trimmed after the rug is completed and the rug trim is slanted where the color changes. This creates an embossed three dimensional effect.

VIDEO

Types Of Weaves

FLAT WOVEN CARPETS
TURKISH & PERSIAN CARPETS
AFGHAN CARPETS
FLYING CARPETS
VIDEO

Flat Woven Carpets

Turkish and Persian Carpet Weaving TechniquesFlat woven carpets are given their color and pattern from the weft which is tightly intertwined with the warp. Rather than an actual pile, the foundation of these rugs gives them their design. The weft is woven between the warp until a new color is needed, it is then looped back and knotted before a new color is implemented.

The most popular of flat-weaves is called the Kilim. Kilim rugs (along with jewelry, clothing and animals) are important for the identity and wealth of nomadic tribes-people. In their traditional setting Kilim are used as floor and wall coverings, horse-saddles, storage bags, bedding and cushion covers.

Various forms of flat-weaves exist including: Gelim (Kilim), Sirjan, Ikat, Verna, Soumak (Soumakh) and Suzani.


Silk Road Collections has fine examples of hand woven Suzani and Ikat textiles.

Turkish & Persian Carpets

Turkish and Persian Carpets The difference between Anatolian (Turkish) and Persian carpets is today largely one of tradition. Typically, a traditional Persian carpet is tied with a single looping knot (Persian or Senneh Knot), while the traditional Anatolian carpet is tied with a double looping knot (Turkish or Ghiordes Knot). This means that for every 'vertical strand' of thread in a carpet, an Anatolian carpet has two loops as opposed to the one loop for the various Persian carpets that use a Persian 'single' knot. Ultimately, this process of 'double knotting' in traditional Anatolian carpets results in a slightly more block like image compared to the traditional 'single knotted' Persian carpet. The traditional Anatolian style also reduces the number of Knots per sq. cm.

Today, it is common to see carpets woven in both Turkey and Iran using either of the two knot styles. When comparing carpets the only way to definitively identify the knot used is to splay open the pile by bending the rug against itself and looking at the base of the knot.

The most expensive carpet of the world is a 17th-century Persian carpet which was sold in June 2013 in a London auction for $33.8m.


Silk Road Collections has fine examples of hand knotted, 100% organic natural dye Persian Turkish Rugs and carpets.

Afghan Carpets

Afghan Carpets The increasing demand all over the world for Afghan carpets, rugs, as well as killims has stimulated a lively interest in this time-honored craft.

Turkoman Carpet

All Turkoman carpets are woven in the north of the country between Maimanah to the west and Kunduz to the east, apart from Syruk carpets which are made in Maruchak and Mauris which are made in and around Herat in the west of Afghanistan.

Most Turkomans in Afghanistan belong to the Ersari tribe, a large ethnic group sub-divided into clans, many of which have their own individual carpet motifs and designs. Perhaps the two best-known designs are the "fil-poi" or elephant's foot, a large octagonal gul and the smaller Tekke gul, or "Bukhara pattern" as it is now called in the trade, and within these motifs there is a wide variety. Other Turkomans who weave carpets in Afghanistan are the Tekkes, Yamouds and Syruk, who all have their distinctive weaves and designs.

The wool used in Turkoman weaving is renowned in the trade for its lustrous and hard-wearing properties. It comes from the famous indigenous breed of Karakul sheep in Ghazny province, which is equally renowned in the fur trade for its Karakul lambskins. Carding and spinning is carried out by hand, by both men and women. The balls of wool are made into skeins which are then dyed, either by the weaver's family in its own compound or by professional dyers in the bazaar. Though aniline dyes have been used since their invention at the turn of the century, there is now a growing tendency among the Turkomans to revert to the use of natural dyestuffs.

The Beloutch and Beloutch-Type Carpet

Herat, in the west of Afghanistan, is the major marketing centre for a wide region where a large and varied production of carpets, rugs and flat-woven pieces, including killims, is woven; goods from this area are traditionally known as Beloutches. Some of the these goods are made by nomads and seminomads, many by people now sedentary who, though not strictly of the Beloutch tribe, have acquired some their techniques while imparting to their work their own tribal charm and rustic character which is so much sough-after today.

The Beloutch production, like that of the Turkoman, is entirely hand made, from shearing and spinning into dyeing and knotting. The Herat Beloutches are all wool as opposed to the Meshed Beloutches from Iran which have cotton warps. A wide variety of both chemical and natural dyestuffs are used.

Weaving, always on a horizontal loom, frequently takes place in the open under a shelter just outside the weaver's tent, and is always done by women and girls who learn this craft when very young.


Silk Road Collections works with the Turkmen tribe in Afghanistan and we purchase our silk rugs in Uzbekestan. These rugs are so much stronger than machine made rugs. The more you walk on them, the better it gets. See our collection of New World Rugs.

Flying Carpets

Flying CarpetA magic carpet, also called a flying carpet, is a legendary carpet that can be used to transport persons who are on it instantaneously or quickly to their destination.

One of the stories in the One Thousand and One Nights relates how Prince Husain, the eldest son of Sultan of the Indies, travels to Bisnagar (Vijayanagara) in India and buys a magic carpet. This carpet is described as follows: "Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day's journey and difficult to reach." The literary traditions of several other cultures also feature magical carpets, in most cases literally flying rather than instantly transporting their passengers from place to place.


Woven into each beautiful, hand-woven Persian and Turkish carpet is a unique special story. Silk Road Collections invites you on an exhilarating journey to the exotic, faraway lands of bygone eras. Begin your adventure by reading our Featured Persian and Turkish carpet stories.

FLAT WOVEN CARPETS

Flat Woven Carpets

Turkish and Persian Carpet Weaving Techniques

Flat woven carpets are given their color and pattern from the weft which is tightly intertwined with the warp. Rather than an actual pile, the foundation of these rugs gives them their design. The weft is woven between the warp until a new color is needed, it is then looped back and knotted before a new color is implemented.

The most popular of flat-weaves is called the Kilim. Kilim rugs (along with jewelry, clothing and animals) are important for the identity and wealth of nomadic tribes-people. In their traditional setting Kilim are used as floor and wall coverings, horse-saddles, storage bags, bedding and cushion covers.

Various forms of flat-weaves exist including: Gelim (Kilim), Sirjan, Ikat, Verna, Soumak (Soumakh) and Suzani.


Silk Road Collections has fine examples of hand woven Suzani and Ikat textiles.

TURKISH AND PERSIAN CARPETS

Turkish & Persian Carpets

Turkish and Persian Carpets

The difference between Anatolian (Turkish) and Persian carpets is today largely one of tradition. Typically, a traditional Persian carpet is tied with a single looping knot (Persian or Senneh Knot), while the traditional Anatolian carpet is tied with a double looping knot (Turkish or Ghiordes Knot). This means that for every 'vertical strand' of thread in a carpet, an Anatolian carpet has two loops as opposed to the one loop for the various Persian carpets that use a Persian 'single' knot. Ultimately, this process of 'double knotting' in traditional Anatolian carpets results in a slightly more block like image compared to the traditional 'single knotted' Persian carpet. The traditional Anatolian style also reduces the number of Knots per sq. cm.

Today, it is common to see carpets woven in both Turkey and Iran using either of the two knot styles. When comparing carpets the only way to definitively identify the knot used is to splay open the pile by bending the rug against itself and looking at the base of the knot.

The most expensive carpet of the world is a 17th-century Persian carpet which was sold in June 2013 in a London auction for $33.8m.


Silk Road Collections has fine examples of hand knotted, 100% organic natural dye Persian and Turkish rugs and carpets.

AFGHAN CARPETS

Afghan Carpets

Afghan Carpets

The increasing demand all over the world for Afghan carpets, rugs, as well as killims has stimulated a lively interest in this time-honored craft.

Turkoman Carpet

All Turkoman carpets are woven in the north of the country between Maimanah to the west and Kunduz to the east, apart from Syruk carpets which are made in Maruchak and Mauris which are made in and around Herat in the west of Afghanistan.

Most Turkomans in Afghanistan belong to the Ersari tribe, a large ethnic group sub-divided into clans, many of which have their own individual carpet motifs and designs. Perhaps the two best-known designs are the "fil-poi" or elephant's foot, a large octagonal gul and the smaller Tekke gul, or "Bukhara pattern" as it is now called in the trade, and within these motifs there is a wide variety. Other Turkomans who weave carpets in Afghanistan are the Tekkes, Yamouds and Syruk, who all have their distinctive weaves and designs.

The wool used in Turkoman weaving is renowned in the trade for its lustrous and hard-wearing properties. It comes from the famous indigenous breed of Karakul sheep in Ghazny province, which is equally renowned in the fur trade for its Karakul lambskins. Carding and spinning is carried out by hand, by both men and women. The balls of wool are made into skeins which are then dyed, either by the weaver's family in its own compound or by professional dyers in the bazaar. Though aniline dyes have been used since their invention at the turn of the century, there is now a growing tendency among the Turkomans to revert to the use of natural dyestuffs.

The Beloutch and Beloutch-Type Carpet

Herat, in the west of Afghanistan, is the major marketing centre for a wide region where a large and varied production of carpets, rugs and flat-woven pieces, including killims, is woven; goods from this area are traditionally known as Beloutches. Some of the these goods are made by nomads and seminomads, many by people now sedentary who, though not strictly of the Beloutch tribe, have acquired some their techniques while imparting to their work their own tribal charm and rustic character which is so much sough-after today.

The Beloutch production, like that of the Turkoman, is entirely hand made, from shearing and spinning into dyeing and knotting. The Herat Beloutches are all wool as opposed to the Meshed Beloutches from Iran which have cotton warps. A wide variety of both chemical and natural dyestuffs are used.

Weaving, always on a horizontal loom, frequently takes place in the open under a shelter just outside the weaver's tent, and is always done by women and girls who learn this craft when very young.


Silk Road Collections works with the Turkmen tribe in Afghanistan and we purchase our silk rugs in Uzbekestan. These rugs are so much stronger than machine made rugs. The more you walk on them, the better it gets. See our collection of New World Rugs.

FLYING CARPETS

Flying Carpets

Flying Carpet

A magic carpet, also called a flying carpet, is a legendary carpet that can be used to transport persons who are on it instantaneously or quickly to their destination.

One of the stories in the One Thousand and One Nights relates how Prince Husain, the eldest son of Sultan of the Indies, travels to Bisnagar (Vijayanagara) in India and buys a magic carpet. This carpet is described as follows: "Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day's journey and difficult to reach." The literary traditions of several other cultures also feature magical carpets, in most cases literally flying rather than instantly transporting their passengers from place to place.


Woven into each beautiful, hand-woven Persian and Turkish carpet is a unique special story. Silk Road Collections invites you on an exhilarating journey to the exotic, faraway lands of bygone eras. Begin your adventure by reading our Featured Persian and Turkish carpet stories.

VIDEO

Just a note to say "thanks" for the great rug that I purchased from you during the holidays. I found some clips that have plastic inserts so they do not damage the rug and I hung it in my office. I've also started reading about Persian rugs and I'm having a lot of fun going to estate sales in L.A. and checking out the bargains. Thanks again for making our trip so much fun.

Mark Dawson

While visiting Santa Fe, my wife and I bought a small Turkman rug in your gallery. It arrived today. The new fringe looks great, and the mat makes a big difference. Thank you. It's beautiful.

Peter H. Pawlowicz

Thank you so much for the runner. It goes with the hassock you so extremely kindly gave me last year. It also perfectly fits a traffic pattern in my house. It's lovely.

Sheila

We wish to thank you for the two beautiful rugs we now have hanging in our house. Also we very much appreciate the prompt response to my request to see more rugs made in Persia. The copy of your rug book and the appraisal arrived also.

Smitty Hoegstett

Many thanks for the rugs. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.I'm sure we will be associated in the future.

Ernesto & Amanda

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