An Intro To The World Of Rugs
When it comes to the world of rugs, there is no denying the riveting beauty of hand knotted area rugs. Their vibrant colors and intricate designs add to interior design styles ranging from traditional to modern. They can serve as the main attraction, or play a supporting role. Before you begin browsing the magnificent Persian carpet designs that are available, there are a few things that you need to know that will help you understand what you are purchasing and to help you appreciate them even more.
What Are The Types of Knots Used To Weave A Rug?
In the world of carpet making, weavers use different types of rug knots. The type of knot used is largely based on region and culture, but this is not always the rule and you can find carpets that mimic other regions. This is especially true with more modern rugs where techniques became more uniform across regions. Before we explain the various knots you may find, let’s explain a few basics first.
First, you need to understand the terms warp and weft. The warp is the threads that run vertically on the carpet. They were tightly strung to the rug weaving loom as the carpet was being made. Sometimes, older texts will use the term “woof.” These tightly strung strings are the foundation of the carpet. They can be wool, cotton, silk, or sometimes exotic fibers. The type of warp used depends on region and what was available, affordable, or preferred by the rug weavers in local communities.
You will not see the warp threads of the carpet unless you look at the back. It is the weft that is the main attraction. The weft can either be woven in an over / under technique, tapestry woven (kilim), or consist of rows of knots. When knots are used, several rows of plain weave are used to keep them in place. Now, let’s explore the knots.
The most common type of knot is known as the Senneh, asymmetric knot, or Persian knot. It is used throughout the carpets of Iran, India, Central Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. Each knot is worked over a pair of warp threads. The knot completely circles around one of the warp threads, but only passes behind the other. Both knot ends are visible on front side of the carpet and make up the design that you see.
The Ghiordes knot is also called the Turkish or symmetrical knot. It is used in that area that is now modern day Turkey, in rugs produced by the Kurdish tribes, and throughout the tribal rugs of the Caucasus Mountains. This knot completely encircles both pairs of warp threads, and makes an extremely strong and durable carpet, but it takes longer to weave than the Persian knot.
The Persian and Turkish knots are the most common ones, but sometimes, you will also find regional differences. One example is the Jufti knot that is used in Khorassan. This knot involves wrapping the threat around four, instead of two, strands of warp. These rugs have a lower number of knots per square inch and can be completed quickly. However, this knot does not allow as fine, intricate designs as the other knots and may have a cost in terms of structural integrity. The Jufti knot is sometimes used for large size rugs.
Another knot you may see on rare occasions is the Spanish rug knot, or single warp knot. This knot is created by tying the weft around a single warp thread. This is not seen as often today but was used in historical rugs and those from archaeological finds. Sometimes you will find a rug with diagonal or off set knotting, rather than having the knots lined up on the same warp threads.
What Are The Different Parts of the Rug?
Now that you understand how a rug is made, let’s talk about design and artistry. Many people today refer to all carpets of a particular design as a “Persian rugs” but in truth, not all of them are Persian and reflect many different cultures and regions across a wide geography area. Knowing the different parts of the carpet will help you to understand descriptions of “Persian” carpets and appreciate them even more.
Each rug design consists of several parts. From ancient times, carpets and rugs were divided into a field (central design) and borders. As time went on, these simple elements became more complex and eventually evolved into the traditional designs that are known today.
The field of the rug is the portion inside the borders. They can be an open or solid color area, a medallion design, a repeated motif, an allover pattern, panel, or contain a pictorial element. Prayer rugs are a separate class and have a design that is meant to mimic a Mosque, called a
Medallion rugs also have other formal elements. Spandrels, sometimes called formal corners or quarter panels, are found in the four corners of the field. Elements known as pendants can sometimes be found on either one or both ends of the medallion.
The borders of the rug frame the field. Carpets can have as many as ten or more even more bands surrounding it. There is often a main border and a series of narrow borders, called guard borders to “protect” the main border.
Throughout the world, the colors of the rug have a special meaning too. This differs from region to region and among local traditions. One will often find the same rug symbols or motifs. Often, these symbols are a type of language that conveys a special meaning and differ regionally too.
What about the rug fringe?
You might notice that some rugs have fringe on the ends, while others do not. Whether you prefer to have it or not is a matter of personal preference. On antique rugs, sometimes the fringe is short, not because it was intended that way, but because it has been worn away over the years. Some newer rugs have fringe that can be as much as five or 6-inches long.
Long fringe can give the rug a tribal or Boho chic look, but it also tends to show dirt more quickly than the rest of the rug, too. It is difficult to clean and often gets caught up in the vacuum. Fringe is a functional part of the rug that is necessary for the weaving process.
The fringe or tassels are the remnants of the warp threads that form the foundation upon which the knots or weaving are placed. They originally run from one end of the loom to the other and are tied to the loom. There are two basic ways to end the weaving so that it does not unravel once the work is complete. You can use a technique called hemstitching or overcast stitch or tie the fringe. However, hemstitching is not a technique used in Oriental and Persian rugs. Knotted fringe is used almost exclusively.
Whether the rug has fringe or not does not have an impact on the value of the rug, but if the knots become untied, or you cut them off, the ends of the rug will begin to unravel, and this will devalue the rug. On a hand-knotted rug, the fringe is an important part of the foundation of the rug.
Sometimes, the fringe will be ultra-white when you first purchase the rug. Often, this means that it has been bleached, especially if it is a cotton fringe. This can break off over time, and the rug can begin to unravel on the ends. Unfortunately, this makes cleaning them even more difficult.
Some choose to cut the fringe shorter, but you need to be careful and not cut them so short that the knots begin to slide off the ends and unravel. If you have a rug that has begun to unravel, you can take it to a rug repair service who can do a weaver’s hemstitch on the ends to prevent the unraveling from continuing. If done properly, this should only have to be done once, and it should hold for the lifetime of the rug.
Love it, or hate it, fringe is a necessary part of the rug to help preserve it. The idea is to save as many of the original knots as possible. An improperly executed overcast stitch can cause more problems than it prevents. If you have a rug that needs to have the ends secured, it is best to take it to an expert.
Now that you understand the rug basics, you can appreciate them even more. They are the culmination of thousands of years of tradition and cultural heritage. Carpets are both utilitarian and symbolic. Each one is unique and represents the design choices of the designers, rug weavers, and local traditions. A tremendous amount of effort and thought goes into creating these unique works of art and each one reflects the heart and soul of the weaver. Enjoy them as you stroll around our website and search for the one that speaks to you in a special way.