Tag Archives: antique oriental rug

Modern, Antique & Vintage Rugs

One of the easier characteristics to identify of an Oriental rug is often the age. Of course there are variables that may cause premature wear or color fading in a newer rug causing it to appear older, but for the most part rugs can be split into different categories by age.

Modern or contemporary rugs are those rugs woven in the last 20 years or so. Quality varies depending on origin, however when compared with a rug woven 40+ years ago it is easy to tell the difference. There is one complication when dealing with modern rugs. When some rug dealers discovered the market for antique rugs, they wanted to appeal to decorators and designers by wearing down the pile of their freshly woven rugs. The wear gives the appearance of an antique rug, however these rugs are not antique. After practicing, it should be relatively easy to determine whether a rug is antique or new by inspecting the weave. The rug pictured below is a contemporary Indian scatter rug.

Oriental rug

Red Oriental Rug

Indian Rug

Weave of an Oriental rug

Sometimes customers confuse the terms antique and vintage. An item is typically classified as antique if it was made 100 or more years ago, while a semi antique object would be around 50-100 years old. The terms semi antique and vintage are often used interchangeably. Vintage can describe an item over around 40 years old, but it can also describe a specific period in time. The rug pictured below is a vintage Persian Karaja rug.

Persian Karaja rug

Vintage Persian Karaja

Note the differences between the vintage Persian rug above and the first contemporary Indian rug pictured before it.

For further comparison, note the fine weave of the antique Persian Kirman below. Although many antique rugs are worn due to traffic wear and use, there are some which are preserved either from being hung on a wall or not laid on the floor. Therefore, if you come across a rug without wear it doesn’t necessarily mean it is not antique. Many professionals often have their antique rugs restored, making them appear as though they have just come off the loom.

Persian rug

Weave of an Antique Persian Kirman rug

Antique Persian Rug

Antique Persian Kirman rug

Do you like antique rugs, or modern rugs? Personally, I like them all.

Find these rugs and more at JessiesRugs.com

Why Does a Rug Crack?

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.

persian rug

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.

Persian rug

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.

Unsymmetrical Rugs: Imperfections in Authentic Oriental Rugs

If you are looking for a perfect, symmetrical, uniform-looking rug you should probably check out machine made rugs. A while ago, someone asked me why her Persian rug looked different from one end to the other. Like anything else made by hand, there will be imperfections in authentic Oriental rugs. Granted, some of those imperfections may be intentional, and some may be more pronounced than others.

Machine Made Oriental Rug

A Machine Made rug with an Oriental rug design.

Tribal rugs woven on horizontal looms in village settings are more likely to have imperfections than those woven on vertical looms in the cities or workshops where weavers strive for perfection.

red persian rug

Persian Joshaghan rug Shop Now >

Above is a hand knotted Persian Joshaghan rug. Note how the sides of the rug are not perfectly straight and the design is not completely uniform. For many customers and rug lovers these are the characteristics which drive the sale of the rug. Each imperfection adds to the one of a kind nature of an antique Oriental rug such as this.

One of the most common occurrences of “flaws” in authentic Oriental rugs is abrash. Abrash is a term used quite often in describing the characteristics of a rug. It refers to a change in the tone of the color of the wool in a specific area of the rug. For example, a field may be dark blue with a thick line of lighter blue running horizontally across it. It is easy to confuse abrash with fading. Fading is a result of long-term exposure of a rug to the sun, and some fading can occur due to wear depending on the dyes used in the rug.

persian rug runner

Abrash in a Persian rug runner Shop Now >

The rug pictured above has notable abrash at one end. Note how the band runs horizontally along the same path a weaver would be tying the knots onto the foundation. This type of variation in color would not be called fading because fading is uneven and it would be very difficult to achieve this look after completion. Abrash occurs when the weaver changes wool lots, most often because the last lot has run out, and the next lot of wool may be lighter, or darker due to any number of variables including the dye time, temperature, and type of mordant among others.

Another common flaw in Oriental rugs is white knots appearing in the field, especially after the rug has seen some traffic. These knots are the tail ends of the foundation as seen below.

Turkish sparta rug

Knot tails in a Turkish Sparta rug


What type of unique imperfection does your Oriental rug have?

Green Dyes in Oriental Rugs

Before synthetic dyes were introduced in the late 1800’s, Oriental rugs were dyed with colors extracted from the surrounding environment including plants, minerals and even insects. These dyes are usually called vegetable dyes. At an early age people are taught mixing yellow and blue makes green. This well-known fact was also applied to antique Oriental rugs made with vegetable dyes.

Green Oriental rug

Indian Oriental rug with a green field

The color blue was obtained from the indigo plant. After dyeing the wool blue, it was dyed yellow. Yellow dye was often obtained from various flowers including Saffron, Larkspur, vine leaves, and buckthorn. It is easy to differentiate a green in a vegetable dyed rug versus a synthetic dyed rug by the uneven color in the vegetable dyed rug. Since the wool has been dyed twice the green color in a vegetable dyed rug may have a slightly blue hue in one area and a yellow hue in the other. The synthetic green will be more uniform. Often times, the yellow may fade leaving blue on the pile. If you gently pull the pile apart to an area which has not been exposed to sunlight you will see the color was once green. Yellow splotches may also appear in a vegetable dyed rug from wear which causes the indigo color to rub off over time. Other, less common, sources of green dyes include turmeric berries, and Buckthorn berries which are used to produce Chinese green. In China, the color green signifies renewal and growth.

Chinese Oriental rug

Green and yellow butterfly in a Chinese Oriental rug.

The strength of the color is determined by several variables including the time the yarn spends in the dye pot, the type of spring water used, and the type of mordant used. Green fields are very rare in antique Oriental rugs because green is a holy color in Islam and is rarely walked upon. Since saffron is so expensive and yellow dye is required to make green, the rarity of yellow can also contribute to the lack of green rugs. Green has become more common in Oriental rugs in the last 100 years or so with the introduction of synthetic dyes and the increasing demand for it.

Shop Green Oriental Rugs >

Other Oriental rug dyeing resources:





Types of Hamedan Rugs

Persian Rug Runner

Traditional Persian Hamedan rug runner with a red field and ivory border. Shop Now >

A name that almost everyone is familiar with in the world of Oriental rugs is Hamedan. Hamedan rugs are a type of Persian rug. They are made in the Hamedan province in what is now called Iran. It is one of the largest weaving areas in the region and the province encompasses hundreds of villages which contributed to it becoming one of the greatest rug markets in Persia. The city of Hamedan is the capital of the Hamedan province.

Hamedan rugs usually have a cotton foundation, a wool pile and are woven with Turkish knots. Older Hamedan rugs may have a wool foundation. Designs include single medallions, multiple medallions, floral motifs and geometric motifs. The design often depends on the village or location where the rug was woven. For example, Bibikabad rugs usually have a small center medallion surrounded by an all-over design while Dergazine rugs almost always have an all-over pattern with floral sprays mimicking Sarouk rugs.

Large Persian Rug

Persian Bibikabad Rug. Bibikabads come in large carpet sizes such as 8×10 and larger. Shop Now >


Pink Persian Oriental Rug

Persian Dergazine rug runner with all-over floral pattern. These rugs are similar in style to Sarouk rugs.

With so many different villages and weavers working in the Hamedan province, Hamedan rugs often have the most varied designs of all Oriental rug styles.  Although there are many types of Hamedan rugs, some of the most popular types include Bibikabad, Borchelou, Dergazine, Ingeles, Hussainabad, Kabudrahang, Lilihan, Malayer, Maslaghan, Nahavand, Rudbar, and Tajabad among others. Often times inexperienced rug sellers or even rug dealers may refer to these specific types generally as Hamedans as it can become confusing to use city or village names.

Red Persian rug

A red Persian Hussainabad rug with an all-over Herati pattern. Shop Now >

Hamedan rugs often come in smaller and runner sizes. The sub-types of Hamedans can often be found in more specific sizes. For example, a room-sized Bibikabad or Kabudrahang is very common, while they are not easily found in smaller sizes. A Dergazine may be found in a 4×6 or smaller size, or a runner, but a large room-sized carpet is highly unlikely to be described as a Dergazine.

Red Persian Rug

Large Red Persian Kapoutrang rug. Kapoutrangs often come in large room-sizes such as 8×10 and larger. Shop Now >

The characteristics that can be used to define a rug from the Hamedan region include the weave which is composed of a single weft thread, the knot-type, and the colors. Red, Ivory and Blue are the most commonly used colors in the Hamedan province. As seen in the examples above, each rug has some shade of red, ivory and blue in it. If the rug does not have red, ivory or blue it does not mean it is not a Hamedan, each characteristic of the rug must be looked at to classify the Oriental rug in question.

Do you have any Hamedan rugs in your home?

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




Top Five Oriental Rugs for Tribal Decor

Oriental rugs come in all shapes, sizes, designs, and colors. So which types of Oriental rugs fit best with tribal decor?

Authentic Oriental rugs already have an exotic edge due to the imperfections that arise in the weaving process, but these five Oriental rug types are sure to be the perfect addition to your eclectic room.

Top 5 Tribal Rugs

1. Kilim Rugs

Afghan Kilim Rug

Afghan Kilim Soumack Rug with dark and neutral tones. Shop this rug >

Kilim rugs come from all over. With their bold geometric patterns and bright solid colors they rank at the top for fitting with tribal decor. The Kilim rug above was made in Afghanistan circa 1960. The design features alternating zig-zag patterns in neutral tones.

The Kilim below was made in Turkey around the 1940’s. It’s bold green-blue center medallion set in a berry-red field will brighten your room and add a bohemian touch to your decorating scheme.

Turkish Kilim Rug

Bold Antique Turkish Kilim Rug. Shop Now >


2. Baluch Rugs

True Baluch rugs originate in Baluchistan, a region which stretches across Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These tribal rugs were woven by nomadic tribes. Rusts and Browns are common tones found in Baluch rugs.  The Baluch below was made around 1910 and has even wear throughout.

Antique Baluch Oriental Rug

Antique Baluch Rug with navy highlights. Shop Now >

This is another Baluch rug from the same time period. This rug has a much bolder color scheme and would attract more attention in a tribal room.

Antique Baluch rug

Antique Baluch rug with bright blue highlights. Shop Now >


3. Afghan Rugs

The majority of rugs woven in Afghanistan have a true tribal look to them as many are hand made by nomadic weavers. The rug below features three geometric medallions set in a beige camel-colored field.

Afghan Oriental Rug

Afghan Oriental rug with a tribal design and multiple dark borders. Shop it now >

The rug below was woven in Afghanistan in the 70’s. Although it is modern, the design follows a traditional tribal pattern. The only thing not traditional about this rug is the exotic color scheme. This rug would add a touch of life to any room.

Red Afghan Tribal Rug

Vintage Afghan tribal rug woven with bright reds and orange. Shop now >


4. Moroccan rugs

Moroccan rugs have become super popular in the past year. Not all hand made Moroccan rugs will fit in with tribal decor, but this one will:

Moroccan Rug

Moroccan Rug found on Etsy Shop it Now >

This rug was found on Etsy in a shop called antevarsin. The abstract design complemented by splashes of bright blue, green and yellow colors make this rug a striking work of art.


5. Certain types of Hamadan rugs

Last on our list is the Persian Hamadan rug. When you think of a Persian Hamadan what probably comes to mind is a medium-sized rug with a red field and an ivory center medallion. Obviously those Hamadan rugs would not complement tribal decor, but the word Hamadan describes a massive region of Persia and not all Hamadans are the same. Below are two great examples of antique Hamadan rugs with tribal designs.

Antique Persian Rug

Antique worn Hamadan Persian rug with abstract tree of life. Shop Now >

This Hamadan was made circa 1920. The design features an abstract tree of life set in a natural beige field. The Hamadan below was made slightly later in the 30’s. This design features five red and blue medallions set in a dark blue field. The outermost border is similar in color to the natural beige in the Hamadan above. Each color was used skillfully in this Hamadan to complement the tribal pattern.

Antique Persian Hamadan rug

Antique Persian Hamadan Rug with five fantastic center medallions. Shop now >


These are not the only types of Oriental rugs which will complement tribal decor, but they are some of the best. Looking for an authentic Oriental rug? Shop our discount Oriental rugs at JessiesRugs.com.

Share your favorite tribal rug in the comments below!

What Is A Prayer Rug?

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen in the Oriental rug world is the misnaming of prayer rugs. Prayer rugs are not the only type of rug that can be wrongly identified, but they are one of the most popular. All it takes is one rug dealer to call something by another name to their customers and before you know it that incorrect nomenclature spreads rapidly.

mihrab prayer rug

A close-up of a mihrab in a prayer rug which resembles an arch

A prayer rug is characterized by a mihrab design at one end. The mihrab resembles an archway as seen in the photo above. If a rug does not have this niche then it is not, by definition, a prayer rug. Some rugs have a mihrab at both ends, which is defined as a double prayer design. This design is seen in older antique Caucasian rugs.

Double prayer antique oriental rug

An antique Turkish rug with a double prayer design. Note the mihrab design at each end.

The field of a prayer rug is most commonly open with no designs and filled with a solid color such as blue or red. The field of prayer rugs can also be filled with designs. The prayer rug below is filled with a paradise design. This type of design usually consists of paradise birds, perhaps the tree of life, and other animals coexhisting. Do not mistake this design for the Hunting design which consists of animals being hunted by other animals or people.

Indian Prayer rug

An attractive Indian prayer rug featuring the paradise design. Note the elegant mihrab at the top and tree of life in the center.

The rug below is filled with an all-over floral pattern and does not include animal figures.

Indian Prayer rug

Another elegant Indian prayer rug with an all over floral pattern in the field.

The size of an Oriental rug does not determine whether or not it is a prayer rug although prayer rugs are generally smaller than 5’x7′. If a rug is small, such as 2’x3′ or 3’x5′ it does not mean it is a prayer rug. I have seen many Persian Hamadan mats called prayer rugs when they are not. Below is one of the most common misnamed prayer rugs. See how it does not have the characteristic mihrab at either end.

Red persian rug

Small, red Persian Hamadan rug. This is NOT a prayer rug.

Some prayer rugs will also have hand motifs which flank the mihrab at the top. The antique Caucasian rug below has two geometric motifs where the hands are often observed.

antique caucasian prayer rug

Antique Caucasian prayer rug with interesting geometric shapes flanking the mihrab.


If you have an interesting prayer rug you would like to share with us or are in the market for a prayer rug, find us at JessiesRugs.com or email info@jessiesrugs.com.