Three years ago, I had this vision of what I wanted my living room to look like and part of that vision was a beautiful Persian rug. Flash back three years ago, and I knew absolutely nothing about rugs. I didn't know polyester vs. wool. Handmade vs. machine made. Definitely didn't know what warps, wefting, knots, pile, or fringe had to do with anything.
I bought a "Persian style" rug off of Overstock and wondered why it wasn't giving me the vibes I hoped for. A few months later, I stumbled upon authentic, handmade, Persian rugs at an antique shop and about died over their $3,000 price tag. A year later, I splurged on a vintage, hand knotted Persian and fell head over heels in love. I spent countless hours watching videos and reading articles about these beautiful pieces of art.
Types of Rugs
There are four main types of rugs, machine made, hand knotted, flat weave/hand woven, and hand tufted.
Machine made rugs are easily identifiable as when you flip them over, you will see that the knots are in perfect rows with no discrepencies. These rugs are made on a power loom operated by computers.
Hand tufted rugs are made using a hand held drill gun that inserts the pile into a cloth foundation which creates a loop.
Flat weave/hand woven rugs are hand woven and have no pile. Soumak, Dhurrie, kilim and braided are all types of flat weave rugs.
Lastly, the hand knotted rug. Hand knotted rugs are specially made by hand on a loom. An 8'X10' hand knotted rug can take anywhere from 7-15 months to make, depending on quality. These rugs are commonly made from wool, cotton, silk, and other natural materials.
How to Tell if a Rug is Handmade
There are two easy ways to identify whether a rug is handmade or not.
Check the back of the rug
Look at the fringe of the rug
The back of the rug can be a dead giveaway. A machine made rug will have perfectly even and uniform knots, while a handmade rug will have slightly uneven and differentiated knots. The more intricate the design and the smaller the knots, the more the rug is likely to be worth. On the other hand, with a hand tufted rug, you won't even see the "knots." You will find a piece of canvas like fabric placed over an acrylic application which is used to hold the tufts in place.
Next, look at the fringe of the rug. Machine made rugs may not have any fringe at all. If they do have fringe, it will be sewn or glued onto the foundation of the rug. The fringe on a handmade rug will be part of the rugs foundation. The fringe is present where the maker cuts the rug off the loom.
If you are insanely lucky, you might even find a sticker tag on the back of the rug denoting its materials and origin.
Three of the rugs I have found at Goodwill stores have had stickers on the back with all the rugs information. Two of the three were handmade! Talk about a score!
I recently received this book from Amazon as a gift, and it’s been so helpful in identify rug origins and understanding the symbols, motifs, and patterns.
Feel free to browse my collection of handmade rugs in the shop.