What is Oriental Rug Fringe?
Fringe is the foundation threads at the end of an Oriental rug. Technically they are called warp threads, for more details on the anatomy of an Oriental rug check out our guide to Oriental rugs.
What is Oriental Rug Fringe Made of?
Usually if the foundation is cotton, the fringe ends will be white and if the foundation is wool it will be a natural wool color. Very rarely the fringe ends are dyed.
Do Fake Oriental Rugs Have Fringe?
Some do and some don't. If your rug doesn't have fringe, don't despair it may still be handmade, although most rugs bound on all sides are machine made. In some cases previous owners of antique Oriental rugs will have the ends bound, they may also hide the fringe underneath the rug with tape, or fabric.
The Many Styles of Oriental Rug Fringe
Fringe is finished in many different ways. The most common way is knotting several of the warp threads together when the rug knotting is complete, then cutting the excess threads. See the knotted cotton fringe threads in the Persian Abadeh rug below which look like tassels.
Tribal carpets like Baluch rugs often have Kilim Selvedge ends where the fringe ends. Below you can see several rows of flatweave between the hand knotted portion of the rug and the fringe.
Some tribal rugs woven with wool foundations have varying fringe colors. This is do to the natural variations of un-dyed wool.
The Antique Persian Kurdistan runner above is woven with a wool foundation. It is difficult to see but the fringe color begins with brown, then becomes cream and goes back to brown. The other end will look the same because these warp threads run vertically through the entire rug. This is the other side:
There is even a special type of antique Persian rug with rainbow fringe.
Occasionally we come across authentic hand-knotted rugs with fake fringe. Sometimes owners choose to have fringe sewn on for aesthetic purposes or because the original fringe has become damaged by wear or staining. We don't typically recommend adding fake fringe to antique carpets but in some cases it is necessary.
Fringe Damage and Repair
Fringe is perhaps the most delicate part of an Oriental rug. It is subjected to wear and pulling. Vacuums don't do any favors for fringe either. Once the fringe is gone, the knots that make your rug are at risk of falling off. This is why it's important to monitor your collectible carpets. You can be proactive by overcasting the ends and re-enforcing those delicate areas.
Although you might really, really want to, don't bleach your fringe! Yes, it will make it look pretty and clean, but that fresh new look comes at a price. The bleach will eventually wear the fringe down and cause it to become brittle and break off. So, although it's a lot of scrubbing it is important to use less abrasive solutions on your fringe.