The Practical Examination of a Rug

How to Classify Rugs with Regard to Age, Merit, and Value?
May 12, 2019
Persian Carpet
The Persian Carpet
May 26, 2019

The Practical Examination of a Rug

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For purposes of a practical examination a rug, it may be considered to have a front or pile surface, a back surface, and four finishing (namely, those of the sides and the two ends), and the systematic examiner, who makes it a rule to investigate methodically all the details of these, will seldom fail to be rewarded for his thoroughness by much information of interest which would be lost to the more casual observer.


The Front or Pile Surface

Upon this surface we shall obtain the best impression of the colors and designs of our specimen, and here, too, we shall best be able to investigate the type of the knot employed, whether it be a Ghiordes or a Sehna, and judge also of the quality and treatment of the pile. These, then, are the details to be considered as our rug lies face upwards on the floor.


The Back Surface

This we shall find the most convenient situation for the study of the weft, since here it is easily discernible as it crosses the rug transversely between each row of knots, whilst here, too, we shall best be able to ascertain the method of warp treatment employed, examine the details of weave (whether coarse, fine, close, or loose), and judge the quality of the workmanship displayed.


The Finishing

It is the custom for all Persian rugs to be finished at the sides with a simple overcasting or double overcasting, whilst for other groups a two- or three-cord overcasting, or double-overcasting, is the general rule, and this is the sum of the information to be obtained from this investigation; but the finishing of the ends are especially worthy of notice as being the only situations in which the warp threads can be properly studied with regard to material and quality, since these are hidden in the body of the rug, but emerge uncovered in the end webs and fringes.

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The distinctions between the rugs of Persia and those of other groups have already been fully discussed, and assuming that our specimen has been proved to be Persian, the following indications may provide us with valuable clues in regard to its identity.



If a rug exhibits tones of light coloring, shades of blue, pink, and ivory, it is almost certainly a Kermanshah, a Meshed, or a modern Kirman, whilst if, on the other hand, the colors are dark and somber, then it is likely to be a Kurdistan or a Kashan. If the ground of the Field is -shaded, the piece is probably Kurdish, whilst a preference for brown is strongly indicative of the same authorship.

If a specimen displays shades of purple or magenta it is almost certain to be a Khorassan, whilst a prevalence of rich madder red is particularly suggestive of Neyriz or Shiraz. If the tones of the reds and blues are particularly clear and rich the piece is likely to be a Shiraz, since no rugs in Persia surpass them for brilliancy and depth of color in these shades.

Two Persian types, the Gorevan and the Feraghan, are more distinctive than their fellows in their color schemes, the one with its peculiar shades of apricot, terra-cotta, brick-red, and blue; and the other with its Herati pattern in old rose-pink upon a dark-blue ground, and with the principal border stripe frequently laid in a light-green ground of a most distinctive shade.



If a rug displays an all-over Herati pattern it is particularly likely to be a Feraghan or a Sehna; if a pear pattern it is probably a Shiraz, Sarabend, Herat, Khorassan, or Sehna; if a Henna flower design a Feraghan; or if the ‘Mina Khani it is almost certainly a Kurdish piece.

If geometrical or adventitious designs appear, or the pear is geometrical in shape, the specimen is unlikely to be other than a Shiraz, Karadagh, Mosul, or Hamadan, whilst diaper and lattice work patterns are particularly suggestive of a Kurdish origin.

If a rug displays concentric medallions it is almost certainly a Gorevan, if a central medallion with pendants, it is likely to be a Kashan, modern Kirman, or Kermanshah; if a chain medallion, it is probably a Shiraz, or Hamadan.


3.The Knot

This will be either a Ghiordes or a Sehna, and by a decision of this one simple fact the total unwieldy mass of Persian rugs is immediately divided into two nearly equal halves, and the field of our search accordingly proportionately narrowed.


4.The Pile

If a rug displays a notably close trimmed and velvety pile it is probably a Kashan, Sarouk, or Sehna; if short and harsh to the touch it is likely to be a Tabriz; if long, a Mosul or Kurdish; if unevenly trimmed a Khorassan. If the pile is largely composed of camel’s hair the piece is almost certainly a Hamadan, or rarely, an old Mosul, or Bijar. If it is of medium length and notably soft and fleecy our specimen is particularly likely to be a Shiraz, or Neyriz.

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In order to examine the back surface, we shall now proceed to turn our specimen over face downwards, and in so doing should particularly notice whether it be thick or thin, flexible or stiff.

If the rug is notably thin it is probably a Sehna, since these are the thinnest of all Persian rugs, and can often be recognized by experts by this fact alone; whilst if it is unusually thick and heavy it is likely to be a Bijar, Mosul, or Kurdistan.

If it is stiff it is certain to be modern, however much it may resemble an old rug in other ways, but if it is limp and flexible it may be either a genuine old piece or a modern which has been subjected to special treatment so as to cause it to resemble one.


The Weft

If our specimen displays a weft which crosses but once between each row of knots then it is either a Sehna, a Hamadan, a Mosul, or a Kurdistan, the weft being of fine cotton in the case of a Sehna, coarse cotton in the case of a Hamadan, and wool for a Mosul or Kurdistan. If it displays a weft which varies in the number of its crossing at intervals, it is certainly a Herat, or Khorassan.


The Warp

If the rug has all the warp threads level, i.e. equally prominent on the back surface, then it is either a Feraghan, Hamadan, Joshaghan, Karadagh, Kurdistan, Mosul, Sehna, or Shiraz. If alternate warp threads are depressed, then it is probably a Gorevan, Neyriz, or Joshaghan, or rarely a Kurdistan.

If the specimen displays a warp of cotton, the piece is either a Meshed, Sarabend, Kashan, Sarouk, Sehna, Tabriz, Feraghan, Gorevan, Kirman, Kermanshah, Khorassan, Herat, or Joshaghan, whilst if it displays a warp of wool it may be either a Bijar, Karadagh, Herat (generally cotton), Joshaghan (usually cotton), Kurdistan (rarely cotton), Neyriz, Mosul (rarely cotton), or Shiraz.



If the sides are finished with a double overcasting in short lengths of different colored wools, the appearance produced somewhat resembling a barber’s pole, then the rug is certainly a Shiraz or Neyriz, whilst if small tufts of wool project at intervals from the sides, then this identification is absolutely confirmed. If the rug shows colored end webs, then it is a Shiraz, or Neyriz, or more rarely a Kurdistan, or Gorevan.

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How can I know if my rug is handmade?

The hand-knotted carpets, even the coarse and little-worked ones, have a clear design, while in the machine-made ones, the motifs are often blurred.

In handmade carpets, fringes are the continuation of the warp threads and consequently, they come out of the artifact and are natural; while in the industrial ones they are reported.

In handmade rugs, the reverse design is sharper than the right one. Instead, in industrial ones, the motifs on the back are usually blurred.

In the handmade carpet the selvedge (the edge) often consists of 4-5 warp threads covered with a wool yarn of the same color as the outer frame. Instead, in the industrial sector, the selvage is machine-stitched to the carpet.


How many types of Persian rugs are there?

The place of origin and the name of the tribe of the semi-nomadic or nomadic populations give the name to the mat. The large and ancient production centers are better equipped and served, for the creation of finer carpets. Today, these centers, or the large Iranian cities, have become, more, the gathering place. In other words, a “bag” of every type of carpet.

The most important names are, in order of importance in the current production of city carpets are: Esfahan (Isfahan), Tabriz, Nain, Qum (Ghom), Kashan, Kerman, Kashmar, Tabas, Birjand, Mashhad, Senneh, Ardebil, Bijar, Araq, Ferahan, Saruq and many other Iranian centers.

Those of tribal production are: Bakhtiari, Qshqai, Beluci (Baluch) Kurds of Kurdistan, Kurds of Khorassan (Quchan), Turcomans, Afshari, lori, Shah savan, Boir ahmadi and many other nomadic tribes scattered across the vast Iranian territory.


What are the components of an oriental rug?

An oriental rug is basically composed of warp, weft and pile. Thus the warp and the weft form the supporting fabric and the pile the model of the carpet. There are, depending on the type and origin of the carpet, raw materials from various materials. The vector, also weft and warp, is often made of cotton, while the hair (pile) is made of high quality wool or silk. In pure silk carpets, on the other hand, all the components are made of silk fibers. The warp threads are arranged along the carpet and end up mostly like a fringe on the edge of the same. The weft threads are executed transversely. At the intersection points on the pile nodes are formed, which then form the visible surface of the carpet.


What are the main criteria for determining the value of a carpet?

Normally, the difference in value between two similar mats is determined by the different density of the knots. The density of knots is measured in number of knots per square meter. However, knot density is not the only argument to measure the value of oriental rugs. It is also important to know what materials have been used and how good the quality of the wool is for example. Furthermore, with silk carpets, the real silk content is of great importance for the value of the carpet. However, it also depends equally on the treatment or the beauty of the finished model. There are many different factors for the value of a rug that must be taken into consideration.


How can I determine the approximate number of knots per square meter on my carpet?

If you want to calculate the number of knots of an oriental carpet per square meter, you need to choose a spot on the back of the carpet and count the number of knots on a 1 cm line horizontally and on a 1 cm vertical line. These two numbers must be multiplied together and therefore we have the approximate number of knots per 1 cm ². To reach the number of knots by 1 m, this result must now be multiplied by 10,000. If a more precise result is desired, then obviously the nodes can be included over a distance of 10 cm for example. In this case we only need to multiply the result by 100.


My carpet has slight irregularities; do I have to worry about its quality?

You don’t have to worry about the quality of your rug. Slight irregularities are very normal in original and handmade rugs. Most of our carpets do not come from mechanical processing and may therefore differ slightly. Different lengths of fringes, a slightly deformed shape or variations in design or color are common in handmade rugs. These small ” flaws ” do not affect the value of your carpet in any way, but show once again that you have purchased a unique and original piece.

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