Old Rugs and Imperfections

Rug Q&A’s: Should I Be Worries That My Old Rug Has Imperfections?

All the Questions You May Have About Rugs and Carpets

In our mass manufactured commercial product world, variations are considered flaws. As opposed to products made by hand, machines can perform the same task with “perfection” at incredibly fast speeds and at a fraction of the cost. Machines can creating the same piece over and over again within tight quality standards and tolerances. This form of mechanical creation is a good idea when it comes to goods like cars or airplanes.

Imperfections in Old Rugs - Nazmiyal Antique Carpets in NYC

Imperfections in Old Rugs

But machine made products lack the emotional connection and depth that you feel when you touch something created by human hands. When it comes to old rugs, the imperfections can add a certain character to the piece that can positively impact its aesthetic and monetary value. This begs to ask the question with regards to Old Rugs and Imperfections… are imperfections considered flaw?

A Personal Touch in Rugs

Handmade rugs have a unique character that comes from the process of a human hand tying every single rug knot. The entire rug weaving process is carried out by human hands from raising the sheep for wool to cultivating silk, to shearing and processing the fibers. The threads are hand spun and dyed. Finally, the design is created by the rug weaver. This is what differentiates a hand knotted carpet and transforms it into a work of rug art, instead of just something to cover your floors.

Humans are not machines, and there is a long learning curve in perfecting a craft. An early carpet produced by a novice is a valuable glimpse into the long road that it took to become the master rug weavers that they would eventually become. It is a reminder that every master weaver was once an aspiring student with a dream.

Antiques of many kinds are valued for the individual craftsmanship that it took to create them. People who collect rugs and fine antiques appreciate the knowledge that the piece represents the skill, and the life journey, of an artist who has long passed.

Hand Woven Rugs Nazmiyal

Hand woven rugs have a personal touch.

The beauty of antique rugs is found in that unique personal touch that can only be brought into existence by the hands of the human being. In tribal carpets, the rug imperfections in the design are viewed as enhancements and may positively impact the value of the rug. They stand as a physical reminder of the days, weeks, months and sometimes years that it took to create the piece.

Sometimes it is possible to see the work of several different weavers in a single rug. One will often find edges or lines that are not straight or a color change at an odd place in the design. These types of characteristics reflect the “primitive” conditions of the weaver and the precariousness of the availability of the natural plant dyestuffs and materials to create the carpet. They tie the carpet to the people and land from which it came.

Purposeful Imperfections in Islamic Art

Islamic art creators will make deliberate imperfections in the design because of the belief that nothing is perfect but Allah. Muslim rug weavers will often omit a line of the design or place a color in the wrong place to represent the idea that we are imperfect humans and need God’s perfection in our lives. It is a way of honoring our connection to God. In architecture, one will often find an incorrect angle in the geometric patterns on Mosque walls and ceilings.

Sometimes, these flaws are very slight, and you have to look hard to find them, but they are there. Islam is not the only culture that believes in the intentional inclusion of an imperfection in the design. The Native American Navajo rug weavers also believe this. African American quilters used to put imperfections in their quilts because they had the belief that perfect quilts were unlucky.

Deliberate Imperfections Islamic Art Rugs Nazmiyal

Islamic art rugs, like these ones at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, have deliberate imperfections.

This principle of including intentional rug imperfections is not prominent or practiced in every place where antique carpets were made. It all depends on whether Islam was the dominant religion and how strict the local leader regarded adherence to Islamic practice. Sometimes a flaw is just a simple human error. It shows that we are not machines and that the piece is the product of human hands.

When weaving carpets, if you discover a mistake, you are not likely to rip out six months of work to fix it. When you find rug imperfections in an antique carpet, you will have to decide for yourself whether it is intentional, or whether it is simple human error. Either way, rug imperfections make the carpets much more interesting and unique than something produced by a machine.

Wear Imperfections in Old Rugs and Antiques

Some of the most beautiful rugs in the world have rips, tears, and colors that bled or that have been sun faded. Some of the most elegant carpets have aged to the point where only a faint black outline remains of the once elaborate design. Time has caused these carpets to oxidize and as a result, take on an ageless character. As a result, they now find themselves perfectly at home in a rustic or shabby chic decor style. These are the most interesting carpets because one can only imagine the stories of the feet that have walked on them and the conversations that they have witnessed over their years.

An aged carpet sparks the imagination, but this also brings up an important question that plagues the world of antiques in general. When should you repair or restore a rug with an imperfection or damage, and when should you just let it be?

This is not an easy question to answer when it comes to antiques. In some cases, repairing the damage will make the carpet more valuable, and in others, it will devalue it. Of course, a rug repair should always be done by an expert in this type of repair.

Rug With Secured Overcast End - Nazmiyal

Rug With Secured Overcast End

If you intend to keep the carpet for its antique value, then sometimes repairing the carpet will harm its value as an investment. However, if you are not concerned about preserving the “antique” or “collectible value” of the rug and only care about its place in the room decor, then you may want to have it repaired.

Some people would be horrified even to read that statement and feel that an antique should always remain in its original condition. However, if the question is one of preservation, for instance, damage to the warps and / or wefts that needs stabilizing, then sometimes a repair is necessary to prevent further deterioration of the piece.

Whether to repair it or not depends on your purposes for the piece. It also depends on the condition of the rug and whether a repair is needed to preserve it for the future. Each person and every carpet are different in this regard. In general, the older an antique rug is, the better off you are just leaving it as it is. The damage, fading and rug imperfections are part of the rug’s story and its journey to get to you.

Tinting and Painting Rugs - Nazmiyal

Tinting and Painting Rugs

The rug imperfections, damage, wear and condition of the carpet are all part of its story. Sometimes, you only wish you knew the stories that each carpet could tell. What was going on the night when that stain occurred? How many times was this carpet packed and moved as the tribe traveled from their winter to summer grazing lands? How was this carpet preserved so well for its age? These are all questions that each imperfection in the carpet begs you to ask. In many cases, all we have is our imagination for the answers.

In the world of carpets, old rug imperfections are not always a bad thing. They are part of the rug’s history and story. They add value to the rug by giving it a unique personality that only age can do. A few wrinkles and gray hairs show their wisdom and reflect the true beauty of what they have become over the years.

We have many fine rugs that will add character to your room design. If you want something a bit more on the shabby chic side, we have plenty that will add a distinctively aged appearance to the room. We also have some remarkably preserved antique rugs with colors as vibrant and bright as the day they were created. If you are a lover of aged wine and appreciate the ability of time to transform things into something more refined and beautiful, then you will love our collection of antique carpets and vintage rugs from many areas of the world.

This rug blog in our Rug Q&A’s series about Old Rugs and Imperfections was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rug Gallery in Manhattan NYC.

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