Monthly Archives: January 2015

Shipping Oriental Rugs before the Blizzard

We had quite the storm yesterday in Massachusetts, all of the local post offices were closed but luckily we were able to get all of these Oriental rugs out before it hit.

Oriental rugs

Lineup of rugs to be shipped before the storm

Shipping rugs

Rugs shipped before the blizzard

Shoveling snow

Shoveling our car out to ship some rugs

Today we had some fun cleaning off our cars and getting to the shop to ship this beautiful Jaipur rug:

Indian Jaipur Oriental rug

Shipped this rug after the storm.

shipping a rug

Mike bringing the rug out to be shipped, that snow is deep!

Check back next week for a post on unique Oriental rug motifs. To all of our New England customers; stay warm and dry!


The Value of Persian Rugs

As I mentioned before, some Oriental rugs have price tags comparable to brand new vehicles. You might ask yourself, why would someone spend so much money on something to be walked on? There are several reasons antique Oriental rugs hold their value, and in many cases are worth more as they age.

Antique Persian rug

Antique Persian Kurdistan Bag face with a hand-knotted pile

Persian rugs have long been seen as a symbol of wealth and elite status. This can partly be attributed to older Persian dynasties, such as the Safavid dynasty (1502 – 1736). Many of their courts held some of the best carpets ever made. This period is often referred to as the Golden age of Persian carpets. During this time weavers were trained by the best and utilized the finest materials, such as silk for the pile of the rug accented with silver and gold threads. One of the world’s oldest Oriental carpets from this time is called the Ardabil carpet and is on display at the Victoria and Albert museum. Learn more about the history of this prized piece of art > 

Semi Antique Persian Rug

Semi-Antique Persian Kirman rug with buff-beige field

Older rugs from these palaces and from these looms have long been sought after by dealers and collectors. When one of these rugs goes onto the auction block it is sure to turn into an exciting bidding war. Recently a record was broken at Sotheby’s for the most expensive Oriental carpet which went for $33,765,000. This is obviously not the norm, but occasionally rugs like that do come on the market. Learn more about this stunning rug >

Oriental rug for sale

Close-up of the knots making up the Persian Kurdistan pictured above

When you look at the back of a rug to see each and every knot tied by skillful weavers it is hard not to imagine why they are worth so much money. The time, effort, and skill put into a Persian rug are reasons enough for the price tag. When you buy a Persian rug, you are making an investment. The majority of rugs will last generations, and the rug you buy today could be the rug laid in your granddaughter’s living room. These rugs will last a lifetime. So when faced with the decision of buying a genuine Oriental rug or a machine-made copy, the choice is obvious. A machine-made rug (unless one of the more desirable brands such as Karastan) will not last your lifetime, and they will not become prettier as they wear such as Oriental rugs do.

The last reason I will mention for the desirability of Persian rugs in the United States is the embargo on Iran. At a later date I will delve deeper into it, but the fact that no Persian rugs are being imported to the USA means everyone wants to snatch up the rugs available here now.

Shop authentic Persian rugs >

What types of rugs do you have in your home? How long has a rug been in your family? Share your thoughts below!

The Anatomy of an Oriental Rug

Components of an Oriental Rug

When searching for a rug the vocabulary can get confusing. I have outlined a variety of terms you can expect to come across when researching Oriental rugs for sale.

Persian Hamedan rug

The components of a generic Persian Hamedan Oriental rug

Field: The field is the solid space surrounding the medallion or design. It is usually the main color of the rug. The color of the field in this diagram is red, for example.

Medallion: A medallion is one of the most common designs found in Oriental rugs. It usually takes a diamond shape set in the center of the field. In the diagram it is ivory.

Border: The main border is the thickest, or widest border with the main border design. The main border above is ivory.

Guard Border (Strips): Guard borders are the smaller borders flanking the main border on the inside and the outer edge. As seen in the diagram, the guard borders are partially missing at the ends. These are often missing or fraying in older Oriental rugs that have not been overcasted.

Corner Brackets: These are also known as spandrels. They are often seen in the corners of the field of an Oriental rug.

Motifs: Motifs describe the small patterns within the overall rug design. See our guide to Oriental rug motifs >

Fringe: Fringe describes the tassel-like ends of an Oriental rug.

Indian Oriental rug

Fringe tied off at the end of the Oriental rug

These are actually a part of the foundation of the rug and are called warp threads. When the weaver has completed the rug they will often tie the ends off in knots as seen in the picture to the right.

Edge: The edge of the rug is the selvedge on the sides. There are two edges, one on the left and the other on the right and they are bound with yarn as seen below.

Persian Sarouk Oriental Rug

The edges on this Persian Sarouk are worn, but the binding is still present. The color of the binding is brown.

Selvedge: Selvedge describes a fringe end with no “tassels”, it has been woven into itself to prevent fraying. See the example below.

Persian Hamedan rug

Rather than tassels the fringe has been woven back into itself. It is common to find one selvedge end in vintage and antique Persian rugs.

Foundation: The foundation of the rug is made up of warp and weft threads. These alone produce a criss-cross pattern and do not include the knots.

Warp: Warp threads are the vertical threads of the foundation of an Oriental rug which run parallel to the edges of the rug.

Weft: Weft threads are the horizontal threads of the foundation of an Oriental rug. I remember these because weft rhymes with “left” and they run from right to left.

Knots: Knots make the pile of the rug, yarn is knotted onto the foundation. See the two basic Oriental rug knots below.

Persian Knot

Persian Knot

Turkish Knot

Turkish Knot


Pile: Pile is the soft material on the top of the rug which results from the knots.

KPSI: KPSI is the abbreviation for Knots per Square Inch. It is often used as a measure of the rugs quality. See our guide on counting rug knots >


Oriental rug drawing

A simplified drawing of an Oriental rug with the components labeled


Describing an Oriental Rug

Abrash: When someone refers to abrash in an Oriental rug they are talking about the change in tone of a specific color. During the weaving process, the weaver will change wool lots as they run out of wool. The next wool lot may have been dyed for a slightly longer or shorter time frame than the last causing a color tone change in the rug as seen below. To people who are new in the market they may recognize this as a mistake or something which detracts from the rugs value. In fact, many seasoned collectors appreciate abrash and recognize it as a characteristic of a true rug.

Antique Caucasian rug

An antique Caucasian rug with beautiful blue abrash. Note the variation from light blue to dark blue in the field.

Moth Damage/Moth Nicks: Recently, I posted an article about the webbing clothes moth AKA the moth that eats the wool in rugs. A moth nick is a term used to describe a small area on an Oriental rug (about the size of a quarter or smaller) that is missing wool pile due to moth. The moth will eat the wool that makes up the pile of a rug, leaving the cotton foundation threads exposed as seen in the photo below. Moth damage is used to describe more severe cases in which there may be a large area missing wool due to moths.

afghan baluch rug

The white threads you are seeing in this moth nick are the foundation threads.


Overcasting: Overcasting is an important repair process in older rugs or rugs which are exposed to high traffic areas. Overcasting the ends of an oriental rug prevents fraying.

Antique Caucasian Shirvan

A photo of the weave of the antique Oriental rug with the abrash mentioned previously.

Weave: One of the most common questions asked by a rug dealer buying a rug is, can I see the weave? This means they want to see the back of the rug. The weave can tell a lot about an Oriental rug, such as where it was made, how old it is, and how much it may be worth.

More Resources:

Check these sites for more info on how Oriental rugs are made


How to Buy an Oriental Rug Like a Pro

Your first or even your third Oriental rug purchase can be overwhelming. With some Oriental rugs priced similar to cars it is important to know what your plan is before opening your checkbook.

1. Measure Your Space

If you are not sure how to fit a rug into your space, check out our area rug size guide. Figure out what size rug you are looking for. An important question when buying a rug online is whether the listed measurement includes the fringe. I have seen some pretty long fringe, but on average fringe adds about 2 inches at each end.

Turkish Kilim rug

Very long fringe on a Turkish Kilim rug

The last thing you want to do is find the perfect rug, only to have it be delivered and see the fringe climbing up your walls because someone forgot to add it to the measurement. Some rug dealers round to the nearest foot, for example if a rug measures 3′ x 4′ 9 they may refer to it as 3′ x 5′. You don’t want to pay for a 3′ x 5′ rug and be disappointed when you find out it’s 3 inches shorter so make sure you ask the dealer if the measurement is accurate and includes the fringe. If you forget to ask about the fringe you can always trim it shorter to fit in your space.

3. Make sure it is real

Reputable rug dealers will not try to trick you into buying a machine made rug labeled as an authentic Oriental rug. But, if you are looking on eBay or Craigslist and dealing with inexperienced dealers you should be prepared to identify whether the rug is hand woven or machine made. Our guide to identifying authentic Oriental rugs can help you with that.

4. Be Ready to Haggle

Bickering with someone over a price is not everyone’s forte. First, you want to ask yourself if the marked price is fair; is it a price you would pay? If not, would you pay 75%? When you are ready to haggle, make sure you have a price in mind of what you are willing to pay, but do not offer that price immediately. The likelihood the dealer will take your first offer is slim; he or she will most likely counter your offer.

A great place to build your confidence with haggling is behind a computer screen using eBay. Start out with a small item that has the Make an Offer option.

5. Try it out

Pink Persian Hamadan rug

Pink Persian Hamadan rug

If you are buying a rug online, you will obviously not have the opportunity to take it home and “try it before you buy it”. For that reason it is important to be clear on the company’s return policy. Make sure you are aware of the time frame you will have to put the rug down and see that it fits in your space.

If you are buying your antique or semi-antique rug in person, ask if you can leave a deposit to try it for several days in your space. The majority of rug dealers allow their customers to try rugs in their home before making the purchase. Obviously this won’t work if you are buying the rug on a site like Craigslist, so make sure you look it over carefully during the exchange.

Persian Kirman Rug

Close up look at wear on a Persian Kirman

Lastly, you will want to inspect the rug to make sure there is no live moth or damage. This tip really applies to private sales such as sales on Craigslist. You can ask if it comes from a smoke free home, when the last time it was washed was, and whether or not they had pets that may have had accidents on the rug. It can be devastating to bring your new rug home just to find it is making your home smell like cigarette smoke. Any time I am buying a rug I smell it. Rugs are like filters; they capture all of the fragrances and dust floating around your home. I once bought an antique rug that smelled like women’s perfume.

What are your tips for first time rug buyers?