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Happy New Year 

Welcome to Our Monthly Newsletter!

We hope you will enjoy this month's articles.  

The topic is Oriental Rugs-101: 

The first in a series of articles offering pertinent information quickly for those interested in pursuing their study of oriental rugs or who may wish to make an informed purchase.

This month's articles are:

Oriental Rugs-101

Fibers Used in Oriental Rugs

Dyes Used in Oriental Rugs

Design Elements of Oriental Rugs

If there is a topic you would like us to cover in one of our upcoming newsletters, please call us at 607-272-1566 or contact us by clicking here.

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Oriental Rugs 101 - Article Series

Oriental Rugs-101 is here for you if you are interested in learning more about these rugs. This series of articles can help you to quickly gain some highly useful information to guide you further or give you the basic knowledge needed to make an informed purchase of one of these rugs.

You may have heard about the mystique of oriental rugshow to assess the value of  oriental rugs, Persian, Bijar, Turkoman, etc

The subject is full of many words and phrases you may not be familiar with such as abrash, symmetric, asymmetric, knot density, natural vs. synthetic dyeswarp and weftfield, spandreland more.

Is there really any way to gain some pertinent knowledge rather quickly for someone who may be entranced with the beauty of these rugs but would also like to be able to make an informed purchase should the opportunity arise?

The answer is Yes! And these articles may be just just what you have been looking for!


A technical definition of an Oriental Rug would be a rug that is hand knotted or hand tied. The pile of a hand knotted rug is formed by the knots.

There are also rugs that are handmade but not hand knotted or hand tied. These are known as flatweaves and have no pile. One example of these types of rugs are dhurries from China and India.

Woven rugs can be referred to as Eastern (Oriental) relating to the Orient, especially Asia, or Western (Occidental) rugs. 

Common rug weaving countries around the world include  Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal, Africa, etc. 

Native American Indians, such as the Navajos of the American Southwest and the Zapotecs of Mexico, weave flatwoven rugs that are sometimes referred to as Oriental Rugs, which is not technically correct.


To learn more about types of orientals and the topics covered in this series, continue reading here.


Common Types

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:

  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Silk

Additional fibers may be used but to a very limited extent:

  • Camel Hair
  • Goat Hair
  • Rayon**


The buyer of oriental rugs should be aware that manufacturers or dealers may try to pass off oriental rugs  with rayon inserts as having silk inserts which would raise the value and thus raise the cost to the consumer.

Unscrupulous dealers may try to pass off a rug woven totally of rayon fiber 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 used most to make the most intricately knotted rugs.


To learn more, please continue reading here.


Dyes used in oriental rugs can be synthetic or natural. Synthetic dyes are produced from chemical elements while natural dyes are obtained from plants, minerals, and insects.

The types of dyes and dye processes used in oriental rugs are explained below:


Synthetic dyes only began to replace natural dyes in the mid-1850s when they were accidentally discovered by William Perkin, an 18 year old English chemistry student in 1856. The first synthetic dyes were produced from coal tar (a carcinogen) and were called aniline dyes. 

These early dyes often caused bleeding and faded colors until the beginning of the 20th century when chrome mordant synthetic dyes were introduced. The new chrome mordant dyes almost totally displaced the natural ones. It has only been recently that consumers have shown a renewed interest in naturally dyed rugs. 


Natural dyes used in Oriental Rugs, also known as vegetal dyes, were used for centuries. (Sometimes vegetal' dyes are incorrectly referred to as 'vegetable' dyes).

The natural variations in these dyes, derived from insects, minerals, and the different parts of plants including roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits, produce the exciting color schemes and the distinct appearance that is such a unique characteristic of hand made rugs.  

To learn more about dyes and how to tell whether a rug has been dyed with synthetic or natural dyes, please continue reading here.


Oriental Rug design elements are a fascinating part of the appeal of these rugs. Oriental Rugs can truly be considered works of art. It is the variety of design elements used to weave a rug that helps determine its value as well as its appeal to an individual buyer. 

The design elements can also help give us clues as to where and why a particular Oriental Rug was woven.

The design element value of a rug includes the intricacy of the design as well as the beauty of the motifs and the pattern. With the exception of rugs with an allover, portrait, and panel design, these rugs should be symmetrical.



Oriental Rug design elements can be easily broken down into 2 major types:

  • Rectilinear Designs - mostly geometric motifs and angular patterns.
  • Curvilinear Designs  - mostly floral motifs and patterns that are usually more intricate. Keep in mind rugs may contain both curvilinear and rectilinear patterns.


These are the 2 major distinguishing parts of an oriental rug where the Oriental Rug design elements can be found.


The field is the large area in the center of an oriental rug which contains the main pattern and designs. The field can consist of many different design elements or it may simply have a large area of a solid color (open field). The contents of a field can be broadly categorized as follows:

Open Field
As mentioned above, these rugs have a large area of a solid color in the field which will be surrounded by a series of borders. Examples of open field design can be found in some Caucasian Talish and Kazak rugs, Tibetan, Nepalese, and Sultanabad rugs, etc.

These are usually found in the center of the field but can appear in many different styles, number, and sizes. Central medallions can be superimposed on an empty field or one filled with a repeated motif or an overall pattern. 

Repeated Motif
In a repeated motif design, the field will be filled with multiple rows of the same motif and may be combined with the medallion design. Examples of popular motifs used in oriental rugs are the boteh, herati,  Mina Knahni, and Gul. 

For more information and images on Fields, Borders, and other design elements, as well as examples of common Persian and Turkish rug symbols and what they mean, please continue reading here.

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