The type of Oriental Rug fibers used for the different parts of the construction of an oriental rug are a characteristic that can help determine its origin and value.
The foundation of the majority of oriental rugs consists of yarn fibers wrapped around a loom from top to bottom forming one part of the foundation called the warp cords. Other yarn fibers are woven across these warps and are called weft cords.
On most oriental rugs, yarn is cut and hand knotted onto the warps, followed by one or more weft yarns that are woven across the warps on top of the knots. The weft yarns are then beaten down by the weaver to secure the knots. The knots form the pile.
The most common fibers used in the making of Oriental Rugs are the following:
Additional fibers may be used but to a very limited extent:
**A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT RAYON FIBER: Rayon is a man made fiber that has a look and feel similar to silk. Rayon fibers are sometimes inserted into the rug design as highlights.
The buyer of oriental rugs should be aware that manufacturers or dealers may try to pass off oriental rugs as having silk inserts, which would raise the value, thus the cost to the consumer.
Unscrupulous dealers may try to pass off a rug woven entirely of rayon fibers as a silk rug. Rayon is not a resilient fiber and rayon rugs will wear much faster than other fibers.
Wool is the most common fiber used in the making of oriental rugs. Most often it is used in the pile but it may also be found in the warp and/or weft yarns used in the foundation of the rug.
It is wool's resilience that makes it the best choice of fiber. Wool is excellent at hiding dirt and soil and is a totally sustainable resource.
Cotton is most commonly the fiber used for making the warp and weft foundation. Cotton can also be used in the pile, though it is not as common.
It is usually in its natural, undyed form unless it has been dyed for identification purposes.
Silk, since it is the most expensive fiber used in oriental rugs, is more commonly found in the pile or knots than in the warp and weft foundation.
It is the most resilient, naturally occurring fiber and it provides a luxurious, lustrous look and texture. It is the fiber used most to make the most intricately knotted rugs.
An Oriental rug is constructed with fiber that is spun and plied to form yarn. Different or same fibers may be used in the pile and foundation.
Yarn is formed from fibers being drawn out and twisted together in the process called spinning. Yarn that is twisted in a clock-wise direction is called-S-spun. Yarn spun in a counter-clock-wise direction is called Z-spun.
When rugs are manufactured, 2 or 3 strands of yarn that each have a twist to them will be put together and then twisted together in the direction opposite to that in which they were spun.
This is the process called plying and it is used to create a strong, balanced yarn.
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