Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the questions below to view the answers
The majority of our rugs are new hand-woven pieces. We feel that the best rugs woven today are likely to become tomorrow’s treasured antiques. If you’re looking for a valuable old or antique rug, we’ll be happy to help you find the perfect one. However, vintage pieces often cost tens of thousands of dollars and may not be available in your colors.
UNIQUE. Our rugs are unique. The rug market is flooded with “seen one, seen them all” mass market intended pulp. We’re not just referring to machine-mades. Many true oriental rugs sold in the United States fit this description. They can be found everywhere from traveleing “sales” at furniture stores, to large retailers whose “bread and butter” are products completely unrelated to rugs, to liquidation “sales”, and “sales” at big box stores. Even many rug dealers simply don’t focus their efforts on finding and stocking the most interesting pieces (searching for them is a vocation in and of itself and requires a tremendous amount of work). If you have an eye for the unique you’ll love our selection!
Interior designers are taught to “build a room from the ground up”. The rug is the foundation for the room. Consider this. A quality hand-knotted rug will last for life. It is a unique piece of art that speaks to you and expresses who you are. You will change fabrics many times over the course of your life. Why choose a rug on the basis of whether it works with fabrics when you can choose one you love? Thousands of fabrics are available; it will be easy to find ones that are beautiful with the rug you’ve chosen. If you’ve already chosen fabrics, however, you need not worry. With the hundreds of rugs we offer you’ll undoubtedly find many gorgeous ones that are striking with your fabrics.
The majority of our rugs are hand-woven. However, we also have a selection of rugs such as Karastan (machine-mades) and Stanton Wiltons (which look like needlepoints) that are not hand-woven.
Absolutely not! There is a saying that families don’t wear through hand-woven rugs; hand-woven rugs wear through families. Hand-woven rugs have been known to last generations. No rug is as easy to live with and durable as a quality hand-woven rug. Just as it is unwise to furnish your home with cheap furniture, choosing inferior rugs is a mistake. Not only do they lack the character and warmth of a hand-woven rug, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly they look terrible and need to be replaced. It’s a nightmare to live with a rug that sheds fuzz balls incessantly, fades, or unravels with vacuuming. Most of the rugs produced today are designed to provide a look at an attractive price-point. Quality isn’t a consideration. We demand quality in our rugs, you should too!
Vacuum your rug as needed. For spills, blot the spot inward. Then, take a damp or somewhat wet rag to the spot. It’s best to wet the rag with tap temperature water, since hot water can set a stain. If you wish, put a touch of a mild dish detergent in the water you dip the rag in. Excellent wool has a high lanolin content, and lanolin is wool’s natural stain repellent. If you’ve never owned a quality hand-woven rug, you’ll be amazed how resistant its wool is to staining. We usually don’t feel that stain-repellants are necessary. Many of them actually attract dirt. Clean your rug when it looks dirty, but it is possible to over-clean a rug. When your rug needs cleaning, send it out to be cleaned by someone who specializes in cleaning hand-woven rugs.
A rug pad expands the longevity of a rug. So, it’s a good idea to use one.
Actually, it’s rare when an interior designer doesn’t use a patterned rug along with other patterns in a room. The key is to vary the scale of the patterns. In other words, if the print on a sofa is composed of medium scale flowers, the rug’s design shouldn’t consist of the same. It might be larger in scale or more geometric. Moreover, rugs look their best in a room with some elements edgy enough as to be nearly “off”. When you visit us bring anything that shows the patterns that you’re working with (pillows, seat cushions, fabric swatches…images of the room) and we’ll help you find a complimentary rug!
We don’t recommend using the same rug twice. It’s more creative to use different ones! Multiple rugs work best when they simply share a few colors. Choices that are too “matchy” hide the unique personality of individual rugs. As with fabrics, varying the style, texture, and scale of design in rugs creates interest throughout the home. A family room with a casual, plush Tibetan can adjoin a dining room with an elegant Persian and a kitchen with a floral needlepoint. When you visit us we’ll be happy to help you discover rugs with individual character that flow with each other. If you’re able to bring images of your rooms it will be of great assistance.
In a dining room a rug should extend at least two feet beyond each of the four sides of the table. This allows you to comfortably move chairs in and out. If you use the leaves of the table then take this into account. For other rooms, the rule is that the furniture should be fully on or fully off the rug. In large rooms you can either use one large rug or a series of smaller ones under seating arrangements. One large rug “pulls the room together” and makes it feel more intimate. Leave at least eight inches space between a rug and a wall. This amount of space doesn’t have to be the same all around. Rug sizes vary, so it’s helpful to know the largest and smallest your rug could be. One way to visualize this is to make outlines with a few pieces of tape.
Genuine oriental rugs almost always have fringe, as it is part of the rug’s foundation. However, fringe today is rarely long or ivory, so it’s easy to live with.
A typical amount of sunlight will not fade quality rugs. The wool in fine rugs is usually dyed with significantly better dye-stuffs than those used in fabric. So, the rugs are much more resistant to fading. If you’re particularly concerned about the amount of sunlight in a room, consider having the windows UV treated and/or making some use of curtains or blinds.
Yes, designers and clients do so frequently. You never have to endure a mindless expanse of wall-to-wall boredom.
First, the “fabric” of the rug is determined. A wool or blend of wools is chosen. Different wools have their own characteristics. For instance, in New Zealand sheep are bred to produce extremely soft, silky wool. If it is determined that a rug have a soft “hand” (feel) or that it have a luster (a slight “shine”) the better grades of New Zealand wool are an excellent choice.
Next, the “yarn system” is chosen. Wool can be spun into yarn in many different ways. The kind of yarn used will affect the texture of a rug. Just as the fabric of blue jeans vs. an oxford shirt are visually quite different (despite both being cotton), yarn can be spun in a variety of ways to provide different textures/looks in rugs. Mill spun yarn (wool spun into yarn by machine) can be spun into very fine, thin yarn. This sort of yarn is ideal for detailed rugs with high knot densities. Thick yarn or yarn that varies in thickness would not lend itself to such a “precise” look. What is called “hard twist” yarn (yarn spun with a twist to it) is thick and fairly rigid and creates a rug with a nubby texture. Scores of ways to spin yarn exist and each one produces a different “fabric”.
Dyestuffs are then selected. In some cases synthetic chromium dyes are used (as in your clothing), in others natural dyestuffs are used (dyestuffs made from natural substances–roots, herbs, bark, etc.–the dyestuffs used for textiles from the dawn of time until, with rugs, circa the 1860′s). Volumes have been written about dyes. Under a microscope, a chromium red dye appears a perfectly uniform red. Conversely, red from natural dyestuffs shows red, yellow, blue, green–a much greater spectrum of colors. To the naked eye a chromium red dyestuff can appear different than a red produced from a natural one.
How the yarn is to be dyed is determined. First, the properties of the yarn must be considered. Fine denier mill spun yarn can be dyed to be perfectly consistent in color. Conversely, yarn with a significant twist to it usually cannot. Will the texture of twisted yarn as well as the slight color variation that “comes with it” be attractive?
More than simply the properties of a given type of yarn come into play where color is concerned. Dyeing all the yarn of a given color in large, pressurized, temperature controlled dye vats could produce a color with no variation. But, if the yarn is dyed in small batches over open fires, subtle variations of the color will result. These variations can produce a lovely effect, called “abrash”.
Knot density is determined. Some designs require high knot densities to execute, others do not. The “finishing treatment” of a rug is determined. After the rug is completed and off the loom the finishing begins. Its “pile” (vertical tufts of wool forming the thickness and surface of the rug) is clipped to the desired height. In detailed rugs the pile is often clipped quite low–were the pile left thick the detail would not appear as crisp. Conversely, rugs such as Tibetans often have simple designs that don’t require a thin pile to look their best. Their piles are left fairly high, producing a thick, plush rug. A wash is determined. Every rug is washed with soap and water once off the loom. Other washes, these permanent, may be used. Some rugs are given a wash that deepens and subdues the colors. Others are given a “luster wash” that imparts a…you guessed it! Scores of washes exist each of which affect the way a rug will look.
Only after all this is determined are designs and colors created. In some cases a rug’s design will be that of a, say, 16th century Persian piece. Another design may be that of an arts and crafts piece. A contemporary design might be created or a transitional one with inspiration from varying traditions. Designs are created on graph paper, with each square representing a knot of colored yarn. Imagine creating designs this way for rugs that contain scores to hundreds of knots per square inch (they all do)!
Finally, colors are chosen. Selecting a beautiful palette for a rug is a tremendous feat. Each of the colors (often 30 or more) must be harmonious with the others. They must lend themselves to the design of the rug and “feeling” sought. A glowing red field (background) will produce a very different feeling than a powder blue one. A delicate floral design probably won’t look its best in all dark colors.
Where in the rug does one assign each of the colors? Use just a few too many pink accents in a rug and the pink will “scream out of” the rug and look terrible. Too much emphasis on deep colors and the rug will appear dark and gloomy. Too few vibrant colors and a rug will appear pale and “washed out”. Once a rug’s colors have been determined a “strike-off” is woven and washed. A strike-off is a 1′x1′ or 2′x2′ “section” of the rug. Looking at the strike-off enables one to determine whether the palette is beautiful, the colors well placed, and if the wash produces an attractive look. Typically scores of strike-offs are woven. Colors are “tweeked”, elements of the rug’s design may be changed (“It’s too busy, we need to take out some motifs and provide more breathing space”), and the wash may be altered (“The wash we used is too dark, we’ll need to lighten it a bit”).
Only after all this is complete are weavers selected (according to their ability to weave the specific piece) and the rug woven.
First, an artist creates the rug’s design. Next, wool is dyed in the colors needed. The loom that the piece will be woven on resembles a harp, except that it is rectangular rather than v-shaped and has many more “strings” (called warps). The weaver knots a colored tuft of wool to the base of each of the “strings”. The colored tufts of wool emerging from these knots will form the rug’s soft surface and design. After a tuft has been knotted to each “string” along the bottom of the “harp”, the weaver threads a strand of wool or cotton (called the weft) in and out of each of these “strings,” directly above the tufts. Then, she uses a heavy “comb” to beat the weft strand down atop the tufts. A new set of tufts is then knotted to the “strings” above this, and the process is repeated over and over until the rug is complete. An oriental rug contains thousands of knots and usually requires months to complete!
The length of time required to weave an oriental rug depends upon its size, the number of weavers working on it, the density of its knots, and the complexity of its design. The amount of craftsmanship and time required to create an oriental rug is staggering. Our 8′x10′ rugs typically require 3 weavers working six to eight months to produce. The loom time of the finest of our rugs is exponentially longer.
No rug is as durable (not to mention gorgeous) as a quality hand-knotted oriental rug. That the oldest intact piece has been carbon dated to 500 B.C. speaks for itself. Unfortunately, poor quality oriental rugs also exist. It’s important to know what you’re buying, or at least know that you’re buying from a trustworthy specialist in fine rugs.
This depends upon the quality of the rug itself. It’s not at all unusual for quality hand-knotted rugs to last generations. And, this is with the punishment doled out by several generations of a family. Fine rugs are not fragile, they are tough as nails.
What makes them so durable? A quality hand-knotted rug is composed of an excellent wool. What’s the importance of this? Cheap wool is like the dried ends of hair. It’s brittle and sheds incessantly. It is not springy and mats down quickly, making a rug look quite “used”. It lacks lanolin (wool’s natural stain repellant) and welcomes stains. Good wool is springy and resilient and repels stains. Wouldn’t most rugs be made with a good wool? No. An excellent wool is expensive and quite a bit of it is needed to produce a rug. Even many hand-knotted products “cut corners” and use inferior wool.
Besides wool quality, a rug’s construction (how it’s made) affects its durability. In the case of hand-knotted rugs, every tuft of wool is knotted in place. Conversely, so called “hand-tufted” and “hand-hooked” rugs use latex rubber to hold their wool in place. Within a short period of time latex breaks down and turns into a powder. This creates quite a mess. Moreover, the wool begins coming out of the rug. In short, if you want a gorgeous rug that wears like iron, purchase a hand-knotted rug. AND, be certain it was made with an excellent wool. You’ll be thankful that you did.
Oriental rugs are made in many countries, including: Iran, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, Turkey, Egypt, Romania, and Armenia.
It may surprise you that no country, including Iran (Persia), can be said to produce the finest rugs. Oriental rugs of extraordinary, good, and poor quality are woven in every rug producing country. A fine rug from China is far superior to a poor one from Iran (Persia). Even with antiques, pieces such as Agras from India, Oushaks from Turkey, and Kazaks from Armenia can be more valuable than persian rugs. Exceptional beauty and quality–not country–determine what is a desireable rug.
Vegetal dyes are made from natural substances such as roots, bark, even insects. Until the mid 19th century every hand-woven rug was dyed vegetally. Chemical dyes are modern (usually Chromium-based) dyes. While most of our rugs are dyed with modern dyes, we also stock vegetally dyed pieces. We see merits to both. Most rugs today are dyed with modern dyes because vegetal dyes offer a limited range of colors. Dealers who stock only vegetally dyed rugs often feel that these dyes are responsible for the beauty of antique rugs. They frequently look condescendingly at rugs with modern dyes. Dealers who stock only rugs with modern dyes sometimes accuse vegetal dyes of fading and bleeding. To make such an accusation is either purposefully misleading or shows that the dealer has no knowledge of antique rugs. Modern dyes are “new kids on the block.” A trip to the art museum will reveal many valuable, vegetally dyed antique pieces. Their colors remain vibrant and haven’t bled. We suggest that you choose your rug on the basis of its beauty, not how it was dyed.
Many factors influence an oriental rug’s quality. They include: the quality of wool used (determined by the breed of sheep, climate where the sheep live, age of the sheep, what season the sheep were sheared, what part of the sheep’s body the wool is from…), whether the wool is carded by hand, whether the wool is spun by hand, whether the wool has been bleached prior to dying, the kind of dyestuffs used, the density of the knots, whether the rug was given a chemical wash, and more. When you visit our showroom we’ll be glad to give you a “rugs 101″ education and answer your questions. If you’re unsure of your ability to judge rug quality, consider relying on your ability to judge people. Buy from a dealer that you trust
The value of a rug is determined by both its quality and its unique beauty as a piece of art. An oriental rug can have an astronomical knot count and an exceptional wool, but if the design is common and the color palette less than inspiring, it isn’t worth much. Nuts and bolts factors like the number of knots per square inch in a rug have little bearing on its value. Would you purchase a painting on the basis of how many brush strokes it contains? We pay significantly higher prices for Tibetans and Turkish rugs with fairly low knot counts than we do for densely-knotted rugs from China or Iran. We’ll be happy to teach you more about value when you visit us. Determining the value of rugs is complicated. You might be better at judging the values of a dealer than the value of his rugs.
The density of knots in a square inch of a rug tells far less about a rug’s value than what many have been led to believe. The prices for “ho-hum, seen one seen them all” rugs of a given knot density are extremely different than those for spectacular, unique pieces with the same knot count. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of even a few rugs in our selection whose knot density I’m familiar with. Were I purchasing market grade merchandise “by the pound” I suppose I’d pay some attention to this sort of thing. With unique pieces…well, suffice to say I’d be scoffed at if I even hinted that knot count should factor into my cost. See “How do I know what a rug’s worth?
We prefer to sell oriental rugs as beautiful works of art, not purely as investments. Historically, many oriental rugs have appreciated. Moreover, the weaving of hand-knotted oriental rugs is in decline. In China, for instance, weaving facilities are being converted to factories and other less labor-intensive modes of production. The best pieces woven today will undoubtedly be tomorrow’s valuable antiques. However, not every oriental rug is of heirloom quality. And, no rug becomes an antique overnight.
Valuable old and antique rugs (and not all old rugs are valuable!) can be investments. However, the best new rugs are likely to become tomorrow’s sought-after antiques. Realize that desirable old pieces are often worth tens of thousands of dollars. The old and antique rug business has changed dramatically in the last 15 to 20 years. In the 1970′s one could find quality old pieces fairly easily. Now, it’s extraordinarily difficult to find them, particularly in good condition. Prices have soared. Unfortunately, many old rugs with little to no value are sold under the guise of being vintage pieces. The days of purchasing quality rugs from the 1920′s-40s at prices near those of the best new rugs are long gone. If you’re looking for a spectacular antique piece, we’ll be happy to help you find one. An excellent new rug will, however, be significantly less expensive.
Often not! Our last sale was in 2004 and (besides some clearance rugs) our rugs were discounted 10%. Only dealers with high mark-ups can afford to have sales with big discounts. Beware of oriental rug “sales”at furniture stores. An individual has made a deal with the furniture store to bring in rugs and a staff for a “sale”. A lot of money is usually spent on advertising, the cost of transporting the rugs and paying the sales staff must be covered, and both the party bringing the rugs and the furniture store have to make a profit. Besides a few over-priced “show pieces,” the rugs are almost universally mediocre in quality and certainly no bargain.
Just because you’re in a rug producing country and someone selling rugs seems trustworthy DOES NOT mean you’re getting a great deal. In fact, he’s undoubtedly aware that you think you’ll do well by buying overseas. If pressed, he’ll come down on price…”reluctantly”. He’ll probably offer to (and may actually) allow you to return the rug for a refund if you don’t care for it.
Why not purchase? You realize the game and know you’re probably not getting a great deal, but, the price isn’t going to sink you and you’ll bring home something to remember your trip by. I like to relate an experience that I had. On one occasion I spent literally half a day going through stacks of rugs. I culled the best and purchased them at a low price. I felt good. When they arrived at my showroom and I began unrolling them I asked myself “What were you thinking?!!!”.
What happened? I had gone through hundreds of mediocre rugs. The rugs I selected were heads and shoulders above the rest. But, they weren’t spectacular. I knew that if I hung them among the other rugs in my showroom they weren’t likely to get any looks–this despite the fact that they were a good quality and their prices low. The market-goods you’ll run across overseas just aren’t going to be as gorgeous as what you can find at a fine rug gallery here. But, when you’re somewhere where market goods are all you’re seeing, it may seem otherwise. Why settle for good looking (if that) when you can have something spectacular to love?
We price our rugs fairly from the outset so that no one has to go through the haggling ordeal. Unfortunately, the prices of many dealers are outrageous before they “come down”. And, even after lengthy negotiations and significant price reductions, the selling price is still often steep. The discounts this type dealer offers because you are buying multiple rugs or working with a designer are likewise rarely a bargain.
The primary reason is so that you can try the rug at home before making a decision. The rug that looks perfect at auction might not when it arrives home. Also, if a rug purchased at auction develops problems, you have no recourse.
The Better Business Bureau frowns on this kind of universal (and virtually impossible to substantiate) guarantee. We feel that the fairness of our prices is readily apparent and encourage you to judge for yourself.
We do not pretend to do so. Unfortunately, several established dealers routinely promise otherwise. We hear the horror stories when they prove less than eager to make good on their promise. When a dealer sells you a rug, he profits by the sale. If he buys the rug back, he loses his profit. If he gives you a full-value trade-in, he usually loses money. In the case of a rug that you purchased new, the next customer isn’t likely to want your “used” rug. An old or antique rug may have been on consignment from a wholesaler of old rugs. The dealer paid for the rug when you purchased it. It may not be something that he views as highly sellable and would have paid to stock. Or, if it wasn’t on consignment, he’s probably replaced the rug with something similar. Regardless, now he has excess (expensive) inventory. Worse yet, the rug that you want in exchange may be on consignment, requiring him to purchase it. And, if you don’t find a rug that you love of equal or greater value to the rug you’re returning, he’s expected to write you a check. We strongly suggest that you demand that a dealer put his promise of being willing to buy-back or allow you to exchange your rug in writing. And, be aware that this is no guarantee that the process will be easy.
We are deeply committed to purchasing our rugs from suppliers who do not use child labor. They are all members of the Oriental Rug Importer’s Association and would be unceremonially ejected should suspicion of the use of child labor arise. Not only would this have a disastrous effect on their dealer base, but they would find themselves excluded from all trade events such as rug markets. Many of the firms that we work with provide healthcare to the families of their weavers and education for their children. We’re confident that our rugs are woven by adults. It is a myth that children are used to weave rugs because of “their small, nimble fingers.” A child does not have the ability to weave fine rugs. At best they are capable of weaving coarse, inferior ones. Yes, child labor exists. In developing countries labor laws are rarely enforced as they are in the West. Within any industry, there are some unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of this (you may have heard about children being used to make clothing or roll cigarettes). The public spotlight directed at child labor in the rug industry has provided an impetus for the industry to police itself. The use of child labor, never widespread to begin with, has been reduced. Regardless, we only work with well-established, reputable importers whose practices and policies regarding child labor are well known.
Our average (not “best of the best”) 8′x10′ rug requires 3 weavers working 6-8 months to create. Arguably, this is more craftsmanship than goes into the production of a Rolls Royce. The price of the rug, however, is drastically different. How is this possible if weavers are fairly compensated? Weaving of hand-knotted pieces primarily takes place in impoverished rural areas of developing countries. Indoor plumbing is unheard of. For a weaver to make several hundred dollars a year is a very good living. In fact, in many villages weaving is the sole means of “putting food on the table”. Skilled weavers don’t make much by western standards, but for where they live they are paid well.
Officially, a rug is under 40 square feet and a carpet is over. We usually use the term “rug” for either since “carpet” is easily confused with the wall-to-wall variety.
What are Persian rugs?
Persian rugs are oriental rugs woven in present-day Iran, the home of ancient Persia.
What are Sino-Persian rugs?
Sino-Persian rugs are Chinese oriental rugs in Persian designs. This term is often used to mislead customers into believing that a Chinese rug is Persian.
The definition of an oriental rug is that it is hand-knotted. Hand-knotted describes how an oriental rug is made (See “How is a true hand-knotted oriental rug made?”). Even a purple contemporary rug is considered an oriental rug if it is hand-knotted. All oriental rugs are woven completely by hand.
Hand-knotted is the definition of a genuine oriental rug. It’s a description of how the rug was made (see “how is a true hand-knotted oriental rug made?”). Even a purple contemporary rug is considered an oriental rug if it was hand-knotted. All oriental rugs are woven completely by hand.
Hand-knotted fringe is a deceptive term leading you to believe that a rug is a true hand-knotted oriental. All that hand-knotted fringe means is that someone has tied knots in a rug’s fringe. The rug itself is usually a machine-made.
Two types of rugs are considered hand-woven. The first type are hand-knotted oriental rugs. The second type are flat-weaves. Flat-weaves include dhurries, needlepoints, kilims, aubussons, and soumaks. They are thin, like a tarp. An oriental rug is thicker, it’s surface composed of soft, vertical tufts of wool.
Hand-tufted rugs are not hand-woven. They are neither oriental rugs nor flat-weaves. Hand-tufted rugs are made with a hand-held gun. Their tufts of wool are held in place by latex rubber (as opposed to the tufts in a hand-knotted oriental which are individually knotted to the rug’s foundation). When you walk on or vacuum a hand-tufted rug you pull on its tufts of wool. At some point the latex holding these tufts will give way and the tufts will come out. Latex also breaks down and turns into a powder in a few years time (and your rug may have been in a warehouse long before you purchased it).
Rugs described as hand-hooked today are not made the same way as the truly hand-hooked rugs of yesterday were. They are also not as durable. Like hand-tufted rugs, they are made with a hand-held gun and their wool is held in place with latex rubber. They’re fairly fragile, if a loop snags, the entire row of loops is likely to pull out.
“Power-loomed” is a misleading term for machine-made rugs.
Machine-made rugs are made by a mechanical loom. Essentially, the loom makes a rug by inserting tufts of wool (or whatever the fiber) into a screen.
Karastan is the name of a company that makes machine-made rugs. They’re not true oriental rugs.
Some (but certainly not all) oriental rug designs have meaning. For instance, prayer rugs contain a triangular shaped design at one end. This is the end of the rug that is to be laid in the direction of Mecca during prayer. A large, central tree in a rug’s design is often called a “tree of life”. It is considered to represent the immortality of the soul and its connection with the spiritual world above. The rams head design, found in some Turkish rugs, is thought to have originated in prehistoric times and represents the power of the gods. This being said, be a bit skeptical when someone selling rugs waxes eloquent about the meaning of elements in a design. Most weavers aren’t aware of the “meaning” of various motifs. They use them in a rug’s design because they learned them from their mother, not because they’re seeking to convey something.