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Traditional handmade woven rugs have been made in Iran (Persia) and other countries of the Orient for well over 1000 years and are synonymous with indulgence, beauty and luxurious practicality. Genuine Persian rugs are hand knotted, which means each and every individual knot is tied by hand which results in a truly artisan creation that greatly reflects ‘the signature of the living spirit’. Hand knotting conveys an attribute of construction which gives the higher quality Persian and Oriental rugs a durability unsurpassed by inferior machine-made rugs. The sheer choice of designs and colours of Oriental rugs is enormous and ranges from decidedly formal floral medallion designs to the more simplistic tribal rugs.
While the finest silk Persian rugs and rarer antique wool rugs are eye wateringly expensive, most homeowners are surprised to find the majority of Persian handmade rugs are well within their budget and will be used by run of the mill home decorators or interior designers. This makes them an extremely attractive option for covering the floor – whether it be wood, flagged or carpeted.
In some cases, the cost of a high-quality rug may well be higher than a customer hoped to pay or is budgeting for. However, a savvy person realises that it can be considered an investment that will pay off in the long run.
When we refer to good quality when talking about Persian rugs, it can refer to the materials used and evenness and tension of weave, rather than only describing rugs with a high knot count. Rugs with an even weave made for quality wool tend to look even better with age.
The action of inadvertent polishing with leather soles, socks or bare feet produces a sheen in the wool pile, and the dyes used mellow with age and light. This is why antique Persian rugs in good condition are so highly valued. No new reproduction rug can quite match the effect, although some modern productions of rugs are quite fabulous and come very close.
Of course, the price difference means many buyers opt for new less valuable Persian rugs rather than buying an antique, thinking they are using and caring for antiques of the future, which may well be the case. The great thing about Oriental rugs is there is a price point for just about all budgets.
Persian and Oriental rugs are commonly produced using completely all-natural materials which affords them many benefits. The wool for the pile may be hand spun, which presents a large fat yarn that suits village and tribal rugs that have less intricate designs. If the wool is of a high quality and left for a relatively long time once the finishing shearing is done, the feel of the rug under your feet is wonderfully soft to walk on.
Silk piled rugs are the epitome of opulence, giving a thin, flat look that changes with every viewing angle. They are available in a wide scope of yarn qualities – but beware, as some so-called silk rugs on the market are quite sub-standard. A fine silk rug will actually glow on the floor or wall with highly ornate floral designs and lustrous colours.
Rugs from Iran (formerly Persia) and Asia are produced in every size imaginable, and if the perfect size can’t be found for a buyer, a custom-made rug can be commissioned. Popular sizes include long narrow runner rugs to place in hallways, circular rugs which are ideal for placing under a circular table, square rugs, octagons and hexagons. However, the most common shape is the rectangle, using a ratio of 3:2. The diverse sizes and shapes makes an Oriental rug an option for us in almost any size or shaped room.
A good rug delivers many practical benefits too. As well as giving visual warmth they provide excellent heat insulation, especially on stone, tile or wood flooring. A thick pile rug also gives noise insulation, helps mask footstep sounds and reduces the confusion of the chatter of voices, especially in the dining room.
Highly patterned rugs, especially those with profound rich colours, are also very forgiving when it comes to hiding stains and dirt. But when cleaned professionally by an expert will be returned looking the same as the day they were bought – albeit with signs of mellowing.
With a suitable underlay and routine vacuuming, as well as making sure any human or animal damage is seen to immediately, the rugs of Persia and the Orient offer endurance and individuality like no other.