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Is Your Rug Handmade?

Handmade rugs really are amazing when you know what goes into making one. There are several things to look at to determine if a rug is indeed handmade.

Examine the Back of the Rug

Corner of American Sarouk

Flip the rug to its back side like the rug in the photograph. You should be able to see the design from the front on the back.

Look for Irregularities - While examining the back side of the rug look for knots that don't line up completely straight.  Machine made rugs will typically be knotted completely uniform.  It's hard to see this in the photo but basically you are looking from one side of the rug to the other to see if you can find anything that doesn't line up completely straight or lacks perfect symmetry, which is what you would find in a machine-made rug.

While you should be able to see some inconsistencies by eye you should also be able to feel rough spots on the back side of the rug with your hand as you rub your hand across the back of the rug. You are feeling for thicker or thinner knots, subtle changes in the pile material while the rug was being woven.

Examine the Fringe

Examine the fringe to verify the warps are extending through the entire rug. Fringe shouldn't be stitched on unless it is to replace a worn away fringe. Some high-end machine-made rugs are finished on the ends by hand to give the appearance of warps running through the entire rug making the fringe on the ends. This can make newer machine-made rugs harder to identify. When this is the case, feeling the back of the rug can give you a good indication of whether it is machine-made or handmade. Once again, handmade rugs should have an occasional rough spot or small inconsistencies felt across the back of the rug while a machine-made rug will feel smooth.

Examine the Selvedge

Examine the selvage (self edge) along the sides of the rug to see how they are done.  There are different types of selvedge, none of which should be sewn or stitched on.  Selvage consists of warp threads that have been wrapped with what we call overcasting.  This overcasting is most commonly wool but sometimes camel hair, goat hair or silk.

More Clues

Machine made rugs are made differently than handmade rugs. This means that the construction of them is similar but not the same. Often times machine made rugs can be spotted quickly by a professional simply because they know what to look for in a handmade rug. May machine made rugs, from the back, show a stitching pattern that's similar to the warp in a rug. This stitching pattern runs vertically through the rug in between every knot. You don't see this in handmade rugs. Also, if you look at the orientation of the knots in the rug you will notice that they appear to be going the wrong direction. This is a dead giveaway that the rug is machine made.

My Conclusion

The more you observe machine-made and handmade rugs, the more you will be able to tell the difference. It is difficult at first but becomes surprisingly simple with time and practice. A helpful part of determining whether a rug is handmade or not is simply understanding how rugs are made. We hope this information has been helpful. Please feel free to like and share our content.

If you have examined your rug to the extent that we have described above; you should be pretty confident at this point that you are / aren't holding a hand-knotted rug.

If you still aren't completely sure; please feel free to send us some pictures and we can try to help you out. Click here.

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