The oriental rug can be defined as a carpet handmade on a loom in the rug making countries of Asia and the Far East. If you drew a line to the north from Bucherest to Bejing and in the south a line from those two cities and exclude the middle east and Iraq that is the region of the world oriental rugs are produced(recently rugmaking has developed in Egypt as well).
The largest exporter of oriental rugs to this country is India. Most designs used today were originally developed in Iran over centuries of weaving. That is why the design names of most rugs(excluding Chinese designs) are the same name as certain Iranian towns, cities and regions. For instance the name Heriz can describe a rug, a rug design or a city in Northwest Iran (Persia). Rugmakers in India will make a rug with a Heriz design and it would be described as an Indo-Heriz. Some famous names of rugs would include Heriz, Kashan, Sarouk, Malayer, Hammadan, Mahal, Bijar, Kerman etc., (see these rugs in our gallery)all towns or regions in Iran(Persia). Archetypical designs developed in these towns and regions through the centuries will be produced over and over again in the rug producing countries.
Rugs are generally handknotted with wool tied to a cotton foundation. The knotting is what creates the pile. Flat handmade rugs are rugs that are not knotted but rather using a weavingtechnique ie, kelims, aubussons, soumak.So the the rugmaking process starts with the material used, wool and cotton(silk is the other oft used material). The best wool is generally considered Persian,New Zealand and Australian, the latter two imported on a large scale to India. The wool goes through an extensive cleaning and carting process before it is ready to be dyed. After the wool is dyed it is ready to be selected and used for making the rug. A maker will then construct a cotton foundation on a loom and the rug is ready to be made.
A rug is knotted in rows tied across the foundation(one knot is tied to two foundation(warp) strings). After each row(or every two rows) a weft thread is woven over and under the foundation across the rug thereby created a very durable structure. As the weaver moves up the rug he will comb and pack the rows down which is what creates the grain of the pile which makes for a light and dark end in oriental rugs. Upon finishing the main body of the rug their remains the finishing of the rug which includes side binding, weaving a kelim with fringe extending at the end and a clipping of the pile to a smooth and even surface. The rug is then washed and ready for export and sale.
In the handknotting different rugs can be of different quality, for example some rugs will have 100 knots per square inch and others might be 300 knots per square inch. The rug with more knots per square inch took longer to make so is generally more expensive and finer in design detail. Though this is a good rule of thumb, it is not always the case. For example certain rugs being made today are not as fine as rugs made in the past but the maker or the importer might asked for a similar price as the fine rug because the less fine rug achieved a certain look that is highly desirable in todays market. As well, in antique rugs the fineness of the knotting is not as important as the age, condition, look and color relative to market demand. For example an antique Heriz Serapi in good condtion is a very expensive rug but its structure consists of a relatively coarse knotting.