Bohemian’s, collectors of fine Oriental rugs. We at Bohemian’s have become enthusiastic collectors and dealers in oriental rugs. Of course, like many people, we love the beauty and uniqueness of hand made rugs.
Oriental rugs are one of those subjects you can delve into looking for a simple “what is it” answer and come out needing a masters degree. It simply is not an art form that is easily or quickly explained.
Essentially, Westerners may have trouble understanding the designs, techniques and histories of carpet making from foreign places. Hopefully this simplistic guide will excite further study of the complex world of Oriental Carpets. Also known as Persian Rugs.
Why are they Called Oriental Rugs?
Oriental carpets by the strictest definition are carpets made by hand in the orient. The “Orient” in this case means “the East”– the middle east, and Asia.
The “Rug belt” includes parts of North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. Of course, rug production has spread to European countries and the United States in the last centuries. However, the term “oriental rugs” generally refers to those made in the Middle East and Asia.
What’s the Difference between Oriental Rugs and Persian Rugs?
Oriental rugs encompass any rugs made by hand in the orient and is a general term. On the other hand, Persian rugs refers to rugs that specifically come from Persia, which is modern day Iran.
Typically, Persian rugs show incredible design, and high quality. Indeed, many people collect Persian rugs for their fineness and artistry.
Are Oriental Rugs outdated?
Some people claim that the intense colors and busy patterns of Persian rugs make them outdated. After all, over the last ten years, people have embraced more minimalist decors. However, in traditional homes, Persian Carpets look rich, unique and timeless.
Additionally, Persian Rugs represent a much longer trend in interior design. In fact, people have been decorating with fine oriental rugs for centuries. So, overall, most people regard oriental rugs as a mainstay in fine decorating.
That said, choosing the right rug for your space does take some skill. Firstly, you have to chose the right size rug for your room. Generally, you want to leave around 1 foot to 3 feet around the perimeter of your rug. However, you also have to take into account the size and placement of your furniture. So, for instance, in a dining room, you will want a rug that allows all of the chairs to comfortable scoot out from underneath the table without falling off the rug.
Then, you have to have knowledge of color theory. Indeed, a rich red Persian rug can really tie a room together. In fact, many interior designers pull a color paint palette by looking at the accent colors in a rug.
Finally, a broad knowledge of different design motifs and patterns can help in creating a pleasing interior design statement. For instance, a Tabriz rug with lots of geometric motifs may look great in a room with more playful accessories.
Carpet making varies in technique, design and cultural signification in different places. Of course, this often produces very different regional effects.
The terminology developed to describe rugs therefore often describes a place as much as a design. For instance an Agra Rug is named after the city of Agra in India (the site of the Taj Mahal) and describes an often sophisticated floral all-over pattern. Similarly “Heriz” rugs are rugs produced in the North West city of Iran, Heriz.
Rugs from this area are known for their durability and strength with bold central designs. Additionally, Heriz rugs are said to be very durable in part because of the large copper and mineral deposits in the mountains of Heriz. So, these mineral deposits produce a thicker wool from animals fed on the mountains.
Red Persian Rug, Blue Persian Rug
Culturally and historically, carpets were produced for a vast array of reasons and purposes. Nomadic peoples especially in Afghanistan and Iran (known as Turkmen) often used hand made rugs as wall coverings in their tents, bags as well as floor coverings.
Carpet weaving was a rich source of cultural inspiration and a source of social unity for Turkmen people. Women predominately engaged in carpet weaving. However, whole villages were involved in carpet production, dying wool and sheep and goat rearing. Thus, carpets were prized for their artistry and vibrant colors.
Red Persian Rugs generally are the most common. In red Persian rugs, the primary color of the “field” or main background in the rug has a rich red. These red Persian rugs can vary from rich cherry red to a deep burgundy color.
However, Blue Persian rugs also show a great popularity, especially for Western markets. Rich cobalt often forms the intense color of Blue Persian rugs.
Oriental Rugs Near Me
Obviously, oriental rugs travel quite far to make it to stores in the United States. Finding oriental rugs near me can sometimes be a tricky proposition. After all, dealers have to pay expensive import taxes on Persian rugs. Additionally, with the political situation in parts of the Middle East, embargos can make the rug trade quite difficult.
Thus, Oriental rugs rarely come cheap. Most oriental rugs that were made by hand cost significantly more than cheap copies. However, the investment in authentic handmade rugs often pays off. A good oriental rug can last for 100 years or more.
So, Oriental carpets and especially antique oriental carpets are still prized for this artistry and technique. The skill and time involved in rug production is vast and often overlooked in a modern world where mechanization has replaced much of the work previously done by hand. A room size oriental carpet can take years to produce and is a process that often involves the handiwork of multiple weavers.
Cheap Oriental Rugs
Cheap Oriental Rugs do exist as reproductions available today. Of course, the reproduced patterns often seen on modern machine made carpets are a poor substitution for authentic oriental rugs. In cheap Oriental rug copies, synthetic fibers and dyes have replaced real cotton, silk and wool. Additionally, the dyes in cheap Machine Made oriental rugs reproduced today do not have naturally derived dyes.
Large machines and computers crank out thousands of replicated knots in an instant in these reproduction rugs. Designs and motifs which reflected cultural values and the unique inspired vision of a weaver are now based on “hot trends” and sale ability in the marketplace. Lastly, tufted rugs simply do not have the same longevity as oriental carpets. While the latter can last centuries, modern tufted rugs have a lifespan of about 10-12 years.
Karastan Oriental Rugs
That said, Karastan Oriental Rugs do tend to outlast their competors. What are Karastan Rugs? Karastan Rugs names a US company that made replica Oriental rugs by machine in the United States. While still made by machine, these Karastan rugs often show good quality wool and nice designs.
So, while certainly not worth as much as Persian rugs, Karastan rugs do show nice quality. They may be a good alternative if you want to spend less money than on a real Persian rug.
Used Oriental Rugs
A better alternative to cheap oriental rugs than the copies are used oriental rugs. Of course, used oriental rugs offer a significant savings for the consumer.
Obviously, used oriental rugs can vary in condition. So, you need to check a few aspects of the rug.
Firstly, you will want to determine the condition of the pile. The rug pile refers to the softness and thickness of the rug. When dirt gets into the weave of a carpet, eventually the pile erodes. So, on a used oriental rug, you may see “low pile” or some spots where the rug has worn slightly.
Additionally, you should check on the condition of the fringe. With careless use of a vacuum, some people accidently ruin the fringe on a carpet. Of course, fringe damage can be common on used oriental rugs. While people can get the fringe repaired on a rug, it is costly.
Thirdly, you should check the binding along the side. Once the binding has damage on a rug, you could spend a fortune trying to fix it. So, take this into consideration if you see a used oriental rug you love.
Cleaning Oriental Rugs
On the subject on second hand rugs, you most likely need to consider cleaning oriental rugs if you go this route. For proper maintenance, vacuum your rug (avoiding the fringe area) on a weekly basis. As mentioned, dirt can erode the fibers of a rug. So, you should first try to avoid getting heavy dirt into the rug by not wearing shoes in the house and vacuuming regularly.
As far as wet cleaning a rug, you should not try to do this yourself. While cleaning a modern fiber rug with a household rug cleaner or machine can be done, you should avoid cleaning a handmade rug yourself.
Handmade Rugs often have special dyes that can blead with the wrong cleaner. So, if you do not have special knowledge on these chemicals, consider taking the rug into a professional.
Also, rugs take an extremely long time to dry. In professional rug cleaning businesses, they often have huge industrial fans that help properly dry Persian rugs. So, the wet wool and silk can dry properly.
Finally, washing a Persian rug properly can remove soil, spots and stains.
How Often Should I clean my Persian Rug?
With regular care, a Persian rug will last for decades. Regularly vacuum (avoiding the fringe area) in the direction of the weave.
As far as washing your rug, you really do not need to do this that often. Generally, you should consider washing your oriental rug every one to three years, depending on use. So if you have pets or wear your shoes inside, consider that you may need to wash more frequently.
Honestly, cleaning a Persian or Oriental rug can be costly. Professionals charge around $200 to $500 for every room size rug. However, keeping your Persian rugs clean protects your investment. So, most people consider this completely worth the investment.
The Value of Persian Rugs
Generally speaking, Persian Rugs have the highest value of any Oriental Rugs on the market. Indeed, Persian rugs can sell for quite a bit of money on the second hand market. As noted, the rarity and quality of these types of rugs makes them quite a profitable commodity.
What is a Persian Rug Worth?
In the past, we have sold used Persian Room Size rugs in the $1000 to $2000 range. However, the condition and beauty greatly effects the value of old Persian rugs. Also the size and color generally make a difference in the value of Persian rugs.