Customers often walk through our showroom, intrigued by the hand-made rugs and textiles all around. Handmade rugs can seem like a bit of a mystery in a world ruled by mass-production and machine-made options. Many consumers don’t know what they’re stepping into when they enter our store. Our handmade rugs are one-of-a-kind, meaning we can never order an identical piece. When a rug is gone, it’s gone. There are similarities in styles, of course, but never exact replicas. The handmade nature of these items make them individually special.
So how does a rug get to be, such a special item, an heirloom able to be passed through generations?
It all starts with the wool. Most handmade Oriental rugs are made from sheep’s wool, or silk that comes from silkworms. Silk rugs are traditionally fine in nature as silk is a fine material that doesn’t tolerate stress. Silk rugs are generally displayed on walls instead of the floor. When weaving wool rugs, the wool is washed and turned to thread by hand, boiled with natural dyes, traditionally from vegetables, plants and insects. This environmentally sustainable process is most common, though some do use chemical dyes as an alternative. The quality of the sheep’s wool varies depending on the breed of sheep, climate, pasturage and the time of shearing.
Wool may be dyed with chamomile, grape leaves, pomegranate rind or indigo to produce rich, vibrant reds, yellows and blues. Once the threads are dyed and dried, weaving begins.
Authentic Oriental rugs often convey a weaver’s character, or mood, much like the way artists express themselves through their work. The rug weaving process is a long one, taking anywhere from several months to many years. Timeline often depends on the size and how tightly the knots are woven, which can be viewed as an indicator of quality. Weavers start by making a rectangular loom, unto which they tie tiny little wool knots. Weavers are able to see their overall design on paper scaled to the size of the rug, from which they interpret how many knots are needed for each square and which colors to use. Rugs can contain intentional mistakes, to emphasize the imperfection of human beings, symbolizing only the creator is incapable of mistakes.
Village made rugs or rugs made by “Master Weavers” may not use a preset pattern at all and sometimes the weaver’s name will be woven into the carpet. The final step is to cut the rug from the loom, wash and dry it in the sun. The loom is cut or shaved to make the pile about 2-3 inches long, using scissors to shave it evenly.
Iran has many cities and villages that are recognized for their rugs. For example, Kashan is known as the oldest rug producing city in central Iran and is the source of many fine silk rugs. Tabriz also has a long history in rug production and the city’s rug bazaar is open to visitors to witness to trade, transport and mending of Persian rugs. Rugs are also woven by tribes, like the Bakhtiari in the South Western region of Iran. Bakhtiari-made rugs are special due to their bold colors and elaborate designs. The different distinctions in rug style among cities, villages, and tribes is what makes Persian rugs so notable for reflecting Iran’s history and the people of this wondrous country.
EXPLORE OUR PERSIAN RUG SELECTION HERE