Authenticating Oriental Rugs

Authenticating Oriental Rugs


There are about four different clues that most anyone can follow to determine whether a rug is authentic.

The best place to start is to examine the basic construction of the top of the rug by simply separating the pile with your fingers until you see the base of the yarn. You may want to use a small magnifying glass and since all genuine Oriental rugs are hand woven or hand knotted you will see the yarn coming from the underside through the cotton or linen backing.

The next clue is even easier. In a hand knotted rug the pile is almost always wool and it is clipped and sheared to form a smooth, dense plush surface. Rugs with silk pile are fairly rare and very expensive and are mostly hung on the wall because they are quite delicate and don’t hold up to foot traffic.

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘silk’. Some so-called silk rugs are comprised of artificial silk. This problem happens mostly with carpets coming from those countries that weave both artificial and real silk Persian rugs, for example, Turkey, India, and sometimes Pakistan. Artificial silk is easily made of mercerized cotton, or rayon fibers. Genuine silk is produced from the cocoon of the silk worm. To harvest the silk, the cocoons are heated, or boiled to kill the silk worms. Then they’re unwound into single fibers, which are then spun into thread or silk yarns. It has been estimated that if a single silk fiber with a diameter of a pencil could be produced, the fiber could lift a 747 aircraft.

Another clue in determining whether an Oriental rug is genuine is to examine the fringe at the end. A genuine Oriental rug will have the fringe as an integral part of the backing – it is actually an extension of the backing itself. The fringe on a machine made rug is added after the rug is manufactured and not an extension of the backing.

One more test is to flip the rug over and if the design on the back is as distinct as it is on the front, the Oriental rug is handmade and genuine. If the rug has jute-backing that obscures the design, it is machine made.

In other words a machine-made rug is not a real oriental rug. They are simply for covering floors. While it took at least 8 months to years for a handmade carpet to be made, it takes only minutes for a machine rug.

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