If you have an antique Persian Sarouk at home or have been collecting authentic Oriental rugs for a while, you probably have heard the term “cracking.” You may not even realize your rug has cracks, however depending on the extent of the cracking, repairs can become costly and even impossible.
A large crack in the field of an antique Persian Sarouk rug
The cracking occurs from dry rot in the foundation of the rug. It may be from a simple case of the rug being exposed to humid conditions and accumulating moisture over time or from a more severe case such as a potted plant leaking water onto the rug. I have seen a thousand dollar rug thrown in the garbage after discovering dry rot throughout the foundation. The foundation threads which form the base of the rug will break apart easily and over time if the rot is severe the rug can literally fall apart.
Several cracks on the edge of an antique Persian Sarouk rug
Antique Persian Sarouk rugs are well-known to have issues with cracking. As rugs age they are also prone to weakness in the foundation which contributes to cracks. Unfortunately if you discover cracks in your rug, the only option is to have them repaired. It is best to be proactive with your Oriental rugs and inspect them for any discoloration which may be a sign of growing mold or mildew. In this case a professional rug cleaning is advised to remove the mold before it begins to rot the rug. Also, be sure to clean up any pet accidents as soon as they happen and have your rug cleaned as urine can also cause rot to occur in rugs. Make sure when you water your plants, none of that water is seeping through into your expensive Persian rug.
People often wonder what Oriental rugs are made out of. Depending on the type of Oriental rug in question it could be any number of natural or synthetic substances. A typical hand knotted Oriental rug will have a wool pile woven onto a cotton foundation. The wool may be dyed naturally with vegetable dyes, or it may be dyed with synthetic dyes. There are different qualities of wool ranging from coarse and dry to soft and shiny. The best wool can sometimes be mistaken for silk. The quality of the materials often contributes to the value of the rug itself.
High quality wool Persian rug woven on a cotton foundation.
Lower quality wool in a Pakistan Bokhara rug with a cotton foundation.
Note the shiny and lustrous appearance of the rug in the top photo compared to the coarser appearance of the rug in the bottom. A finer quality wool was used in weaving the rug in the first picture. A handmade rug may also be woven with camel or goat hair. These natural materials can also be used as accents in the design of the rug, or as binding on the edges.
Finer Bokhara rug with silk accents.
Silk is another common material used in finer handwoven Oriental rugs as the pile, foundation, and often to highlight designs in wool rugs. There are materials referred to as artificial silk which are common in machine-made rugs but can also be found in hand-knotted rugs. Nylon, mercerized cotton and polypropylene are all synthetic materials used in machine-made rugs.