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Oriental rugs are handmade woven or knotted carpets produced throughout a broad region stretching from southeastern Europe to southern and central Asia. Overarching styles are often grouped by region. Iranian (Persian) rugs are often considered the finest, but carpets are also produced in a wide range of designs across the Russian Caucuses (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan), south-central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India), and China.
Oriental rugs are always handmade; a carpet woven by machine is not an authentic oriental rug, but is often referred to as an "oriental-design" rug. To create a knotted oriental rug, vertical warp threads are strung onto a loom. One or more rows of weft threads are added, followed by a row of colored knots which create the pattern. A comb is used to beat down each row firm and even, and the process is repeated until the rug is complete. The rug is finished by knotting and cutting warp threads to form a fringe; weaving warp and weft threads together to create a narrow woven strip, along the edge; or a combination of both. By contrast, a woven oriental rug, or kilim, is created using colored weft threads, rather than knotted rows, to create intricate patterns. A kilim has no pile.
Cotton and wool are the most common materials used in creating oriental rugs. The warp and weft may be woven using either textile, while the pile for all types is usually wool. Silk is sometimes used for entire carpets, but because it does not wear well, these rugs are generally intended for decorative hangings.
Two types of knots — Turkish (or Ghiordes), and Persian (or Senna) — are employed in the construction of oriental rugs. While the Turkish knot is simpler to tie, the Persian knot results in a clearer pattern and more tightly-woven rug. Jufti, or "false", knots are sometimes used to speed up the construction process. These knots are tied around four warp threads instead of the usual two, and the resulting lower-density pile is weaker and will wear faster.
Rug makers use both natural and synthetic dyes to create beautiful color combinations in their patterns. Natural vegetable and animal dyes may be made from leaves, roots, bark, fruit, or even insects, and are usually the gentlest on the wool pile fibers. Synthetic aniline dyes indicate a low-quality rug. They are cheap to produce, but they weaken the wool during the dying process, they fade quickly, and the colors run. A rug made with aniline dyes can be identified by the bright colors on the back which contrast with the faded colors where the rug has been exposed to sunlight. Chrome dyes are higher-quality synthetics which are colorfast, don't fade, wash well, and don't harm wool fibers. They are cheaper and simpler to prepare than natural dyes, but they also tend to be harsher in color.
An oriental rug has two primary design areas: the field, or ground, and a surrounding border. The field may be dominated by one or several large medallions, a repetitive motif, an all-over design with little regimentation, or a prayer arch. Borders usually employ three to seven repeating motifs. Design elements generally vary by region. Floral motifs, with curved outlines and tendrils, may create a curvilinear design on an oriental rug. Alternatively, a rectilinear design, composed of geometric, angular motifs and patterns, may be used.
Both design and construction features must be taken into account when selecting a floor covering for a particular application. Whether chosen primarily for beauty, practicality, or investment value, oriental rugs offer a stunning combination of artistic expression and comfortable durability.
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Oriental Rugs - Oriental Rug Design