No one will deny the splendour and beauty of a Persian rug when it is displayed in a room in the right way. A Persian rug can add warmth, colour and possibly a touch of design decadence as the centrepiece of a room but a Persian rug is not just an item of furniture and decoration.

A genuine Persian rug can be an expensive item to buy and therefore a potential investment for a family as antiques and originals can appreciate in value. It would be remiss of the buyer of a Persian rug not to consider this when buying an original Persian rug.

real persian rug image

Should someone be satisfied with a replica Persian rug and the rug is sold as such, then as long as the vendor is honest in their description of the product, there is no problem. This article lays out certain things to look out for when intending to buy an original, authentic Persian rug and is therefore willing to pay the price that such a piece would cost.

Where is a Persian rug made?

An authentic Persian rug comes from Iran (the country formerly known as Persia). They will be handmade rather than made by machine and will be made using the original material of sheep’s wool.

There are many other types of rugs that can be comparable in quality that are made in countries like India, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan or others but these are not considered Persian unless they are made in Iran. They are oriental rugs. Rugs from Persia are typically considered the best rugs in the world although personal tastes will differ from buyer to buyer.

Real, handwoven Persian Rug

Are these rugs made by hand?

Yes, they are. A genuine Persian rug will be hand-knotted. This is an arduous task that is very repetitive and takes a lot of time but produced a rug that is not only authentic but is also durable and will last a lifetime.

Modern replica rugs are often made using large machines called power looms. These machine can produce a rug in a fraction of the time that it takes to hand knot a rug. Power looms are controlled via computers and are automated with the intention of producing a product that can be sold for profit in a short space of time. For this reason, machine made rugs are not always made using wool (as this is an expensive material) but also synthetic materials like nylon or polyester.

Rugs can also be made using a handheld machine called a tufting gun. This machine punches a design into a canvas which is held in place with a glue backing. Tufting is a quicker process than hand knotting and produces a rug with a shorter lifespan than a traditional hand knotted rug as the glue can deteriorate over a period of a few years

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How are Persian rugs designed?

Persian rugs are made by hand by people who add their own personal touch and design. This means that authentic rug designs will not be perfect throughout and sometimes completely different colours can feature in the design as expected. This might be because the weaver ran out of a psecific colour or even because they felt like putting a different colour in for authenticity or personal meaning.

Imperfections like wool colour or irregular patterns are common in rugs made in rural area and by tribal weavers. Rugs made in cities like Esfahan, Nain, Tabriz or Qum are usually near perfect in design.

Due to the way that these rugs are knotted, there will be an exact mirror pattern on the bottom side of the rug when compared to the top. Be wary of a rug with a plastic mesh covering the back as this indicates synthetic materials have been used to make it. If you are buying a rug from a vendor who owns a bricks and mortat shop and lots of rugs, look through the stock to satisfy yourself that the patterns and designs are different and not mass produced. In this case, imourities and errors are a good sign!

Do Persian rugs have fringes?

Fringe on real Persian Rug

If a Persian rug has a fringe then it will be an extension of the rug as the fringe will be part of the rug’s frame on which the wool is knotted. An authentic rug will not have a fringe added by being sewn or glued on.

Fake rugs are made by machines and the fringe is sewn or glued on after the body of the rug is complete. Hand-knotted rugs start with the fringe on the loom, then the knots on the body of the rug are structured around it.

What are Persian rugs made from?

An authentic rug will be made of wool, cotton or silk. Colour will be added with dyes made from flowers or vegetables. Deviations from these materials will not be found in a genuine Persian rug.

Machine made rugs are, as previously mentioned, products made to be sold for profit and will be made with profit in mind. For this reason these manufactured rugs will be made from synthetic materials like acrylic, nylon, polyester, polypropylene or viscose. However, whereas synthetic materials are cheaper to use, they also do not last anywhere near as long as wool, cotton or silk. Synthetic rugs might last 3-5 years compared to a lifetime (or more) for a genuine Persian rug.

Real Persian rugs will have a softer feel underfoot due to natural fibres  than their synthetic counterparts and will have a more luxurious look. It is certainly worth using your various senses when considering the purchase of a Persian rug. It is also worth noting that natural fibres are better for the environment and safer in respect of being flame resistant. Synthetic fibres are normally flammable.

What dyes are used in Persian rugs?

We have already mentioned that natural dyes are used to colour the fibres of a genuine Persian rug. These dyes can originate in flowers, plants, beetles, snails, weeds or other natural things. These dyes are much more likely to remain bright and vivid and be more resistant to staining and fading than man made dyes.

Persian rugs are coloured by strand (individual strands are dyed) rather than have a pattern printed onto them and are usually colourfast and resistant to bleeding.

Things to look for when buying a Persian rug

Regardless of where you buy your Persian rug from, there are a few things that you should consider to make sure that your product is genuine:

  • Does the vendor know about Persian rugs? Are they familiar with the history of the rug in question as well as Persian rugs in general?
  • Will the vendor allow you to check the rug closely and explain all the technicalities which indicate that the rug is genuine?
  • Can the vendor answer all of your questions about rugs? Are they knowledgeable about what type and size of rug might be good for your home?
  • Is the vendor transparent about the origin of the rug?
  • If there is a product label attached to the rug, does it describe the product as genuine, authentic, hand-woven, hand-knotted etc? Does it mention what material has been used to make the rug? Does it say what region of Iran from which the rug hails?

How much does a Persian rug cost?

A genuine Persian rug will not be a cheap product. So, if you are looking for something that is ‘cheap’, then a Persian rug is not the product for you. However, if a price is reflective of quality and perceived worth, we have to know that the price of a product is a true reflection of the quality of that product.

The price of a Persian rug might be calculated based on the age of the rug, the weave, knots per inch, materials used, time taken to make the rug and how rare that rug might be.

Be comforted that whilst you may be paying more money for a genuine Persian rug, it will outlast any synthetic rug and will be there for your future generations to enjoy.

Should I insure my Persian rug?

Many home insurance policies will ask for extra premiums to be paid for individually expensive items. As Persian rugs can fall under this category, it is always a good idea to get an insurance quote for a Persian rug so that it can be properly insured. On top of that, as an item that may appreciate with time, the value to which it is insured may also change. Correctly insuring your rug means that if the worst should happen (fire, theft, damage) then your investment is not lost.

RL Rose of London offers a rug appraisal and valuation service that can be used to allow insurers to provide you with an insurance premium quote that is accurate and provides the right cover. This appraisal can be repeated at any time in case the value of the Persian rug might have increased.

In conclusion, it can be seen that there are plenty of ways in which the buyer of a Persian rug can perform due diligence when checking the authenticity of a rug. This will ensure that, should they decide to spend a large sum of money on a rug, they will be satisfied that it is an Original Persian rug and will be able to look after it and insure it as such.

Read more about identifying anthentic rugs HERE.

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