How Oriental Rugs Are Made



Loom - are frame like structures that secure warps so that knots and wefts can be added to produce an oriental rug. Looms come in many different sizes depending on where the loom will be used.  Looms can be small and transported by nomads and tribes. Medium sized ones can be used in home or small villages and large one in workshops and master workshops.


warps - are vertical strands of material, typically cotton, wool or silk that make up the foundation of the rug.

wefts - are horizontal strands of material, typically cotton, wool or silk that makes up part of the foundation. Wefts are laid out between layers of knots. Wefts can be laid out in one pass (single-weft) or two passes (double-weft).  More wefts can be done, but is still typically referred to as double-wefted.

fringe - is remaining warp ends that appear on one or both ends of any handmade rug.

selvage - is the side edge of the rug, typically covered with an overcasting.

overcasting - is a material used to wrap around the selvage or side edges of a rug.  Most commonly wool.

pile - refers to the top surface material, typically wool or silk. Sometimes both.

abrash - refers to a color change in pile material.  Sometimes abrash is created on accident and sometimes it is done intentionally.

Knots - knots are the methods for creating the pile surface. The most common knots are the Turkish Knot (Symmetrical Knot) and the Persian Knot (Asymmetrical Knot).  Both knots are extremely common and can be used to help identify the origin of a rug.

Turkish Knot - Symmetrical Knot

Persian Knot - Asymmetrical Knot

How Rugs Are Made

Diagram of a Persian or Oriental handmade rug.

    All handmade rugs, wheather woven or hand-knotted, are made on a loom.  A loom is a frame like structure used to secure warps (vertical strands) made of cotton, wool or silk which make up the length of the new rug.  Wefts (horizontal strands) of cotton, wool or silk will be used at the beginning and end of the rug as well as between each row of knots (making up the pile).

    Most rugs are made using either the Persian (Senneh Knot), or the Turkish (Ghiordes Knot). The Persian knot is also known as the Asymmetrical knot as it wraps under one warp and over the next.  The Turkish knot is known as symmetrical and wraps over two warps and is then pulled up between the two warps. 

    Once an entire row of knots is woven then a weft thread is ran back across the knots to secure them in place.  One pass of the weft is known as single-wefted, also known as Hamadan Weave.  Two passes of a weft thread is referred to as double-wefted.  More than two passes may be made but the weft is still referred to as double-wefted.  This process is continued until the entire rug is complete.  In this process weft threads are also tied into the selvage warps that are on the outside edge of the rug making the selvage (side edge).  The selvage may consist of two warps or four or more and are typically covered with wool or goat hair with what is known as overcasting.

    Once the rug has been completed; it will be cut down from the loom and the ends tied off making the fringe.  Fringe can be done in many different ways and acts as hints to a rugs true origin.  Rugs may have the pile re-cut to create a nice even pile.  Typically rugs will be washed and set out in the sun to dry.  Some rugs may be washed with chemical or tea washes to add artificial age to a rug.  These washes may add a beautiful effect to a rug but overall weakin the integrity of the wool.  Once the rug has been dried it can be used or sent off to a market for sale.

    Below is a diagram of the different sections of a handmade rug.

      more to be continued...