Handmade rugs and machine-made rugs are two types of rugs in the rug world. Most consumers choose machine-made rugs because they represent the vast majority of rugs sold today. Persian and Oriental rugs made by hand will, however, rarely approach the quality and durability of machine-made rugs.

The price of handmade rugs tends to be higher than those made by machines, so you'll want to make sure the rug you're buying is authentic. Throughout this article, we'll discuss some basics about handmade rug construction and how to distinguish them from machine-made rugs.

The language of handmade rugs

You may feel like you're learning a new language when you enter the world of fine handmade rugs. Despite this, don't let it discourage you! Once you know the terms, it will be much easier to communicate what you want and make the right decision when it comes to your rug.

Warp, weft, and pile

Almost all rugs are made with at least three different fibers or yarns, named according to how they are used.

"Warp" refers to the foundational fibers of the rug (usually cotton). "Weft" refers to the foundational fibers that run the rug's width. The pile yarns of a rug are usually dyed wool or silk and are knotted into the warp to create its design and texture.

Hand-knotted rugs vs. hand-tufted rugs

"True" Oriental rugs are hand knotted. This labor-intensive process involves stretching the warp vertically across a wooden loom. A heavy comb is used to tightly pack the yarns together as artisans knot the pile onto the warp, weave in the weft, and weave in the weft, line-by-line. Weavers make the foundation of the rug as they weave, and the pile plays an important role in its construction. Thus, the work of art is extremely durable, yet still soft and flexible.

A hand-tufted rug begins with a stiff foundation, usually made of jute or canvas. An air-powered "tufting gun" is then used to punch the pile through the foundation, usually following a pattern that was traced or printed on the material. Shearing is then followed by glue and a backing material like latex to hold the pile in place. Hand-tufted rugs can be made much more quickly than hand knotted rugs since hand-tufting requires much less skill.

Handwoven rugs and kilims

Another type of handmade rug that doesn't have a pile at all is the handwoven rug, which does not have a pile at all. This style of rug is often referred to by a number of names, such as soumak, dhurrie, and most commonly, kilim. Unlike most other types of rugs, handwoven rugs and kilims do not have knots or tufts. To form the pattern of the rug, colorful weft yarns are woven through the warp to form a pattern that takes the form of a rug. In the end, the result is a floor covering that is light in weight, durable, and often reversible. It has been traditional for Turkish kilims to be tribal rugs, and therefore they tend to have more "edgy" geometric patterns rather than the elaborate and intricate floral patterns and medallions that are more typical of "city" rugs, including the vast majority of pile rugs.

Persian rugs vs. Oriental rugs

What is the difference between Persian rugs and Oriental rugs? As a matter of fact, Persian rugs are specifically hand-knotted rugs made in Iran that are made exclusively from wool. A Persian rug uses a variety of techniques that date back thousands of years to the ancient Persian empire and are used to create intricate patterns in an incredibly detailed and precise manner. As a result of the unsurpassed quality of Persian rugs and their relative rarity in the US due to trade sanctions, Persian rugs are extremely prized by collectors due to their unmatched quality and rarity.

By contrast, "Oriental" is an umbrella term that can be used to describe rugs made in a wide range of countries, ranging from Egypt and Turkey to Pakistan, China, India, and, yes, Iran as well. It should be noted that while all Persian rugs are Oriental, not all Oriental rugs are Persian, and vice versa. There is also the possibility that Moroccan rugs could be considered Oriental, but they are distinct enough from Oriental rugs that many people consider them to be separate categories.

Historically, Persian rugs have been considered the best in the world in terms of quality. However, their increasing rarity has encouraged weavers from other parts of the world to adopt Persian designs and techniques in their own weaving.

How to Tell Your Handmade Rug is Authentic

Having established how hand-knotted rugs are made, let's take a closer look at how they differ from machine-made rugs, and try to figure out what makes a hand-knotted rug different from a machine-made rug.

Check the back

You can tell if a rug is hand-knotted by checking the back. In hand-knotted rugs, the pile is tied directly into the warp material, while machine-made rugs are held in place with glue and a backing material like that found in hand-tufted rugs. Hand-knotted rugs should have a soft, flexible back with clear, visible knots in a pattern that mirrors their fronts. It's a good sign if some of those knots appear looser than others! It is impossible for even the most skilled artisans to achieve machine-like precision, so some unevenness is an indication that your rug is handmade.

Check the dye

Oriental and Persian rugs are made with natural vegetable dyes that do not run over the centuries. You can tell if your rug is authentic or a cheap imitation by checking if the dye is colorfast. You can check it by leaving a damp cloth on it overnight. If any dye transfers to the cloth, it will not be colorfast and may run if you spill liquid on it in the future.

Check the fringe

Hand-knotted rugs have fringe made from the excess warp yarns on either end after they have been cut from the loom. The fringe on machine-made rugs is often glued on or sewn on after they have been made. A rug with a sewn-on fringe is not authentic, as hand-knotted rugs always have structural fringe.

Check the material

Natural fibers are always used in the manufacture of authentic Persian and Oriental rugs. The pile is usually made from wool, silk, or a combination of the two, with a cotton foundation. It is not a genuine Oriental rug if it contains synthetic materials such as polyester or polypropylene.

Check the price

If you're looking for a hand-knotted rug, you should still consider price even if it isn't as reliable as checking how the rug is constructed. When buying online, this is especially important.

There are many people who consider hand-knotted rugs to be investment pieces and family heirlooms. In spite of the fact that it is not impossible to get a good deal on handmade rugs, you should expect to pay a little more for them. An intricate and time-consuming process is required to make a hand-knotted rug. Considering the fact that skilled weavers are working full-time, a room-sized rug can take a team of skilled weavers a year or more to complete. When considering the cost of premium materials and, in the case of Persian Rugs, the price increase that comes with their scarcity, it is justified to justify price tags of several thousand dollars. There is a very good chance that if you find a large room-sized rug that looks like a genuine Persian or Oriental rug for only a few hundred dollars, you are looking at a fake rug.

Buying a Handmade Rug Online

The process of buying a handmade rug online, pay close attention to the reputation of the site you are buying it from. Take your time, read reviews and testimonials, and make sure that there are buyer protection services available as well as a return policy. You should pay close attention to any photos that you find on the Internet. You should be able to get pictures of the rug from a variety of angles that will clearly show the characteristics of a handmade rug that have been discussed above as well as the hallmarks of a handmade rug. If you have any questions or want the added assurance of a certificate of authenticity, please don't hesitate to contact our customer service department! If you deal with a reputable dealer, he or she will be more than willing to work with you.