Antique rugs are known for their unique blend of historical value and beauty. Learning to identify a traditional design rug or carpet can help people learn a lot about its yesteryear, understand ways to look after this antique, and know its real worth.
This article will walk you through various criteria you can use to determine your rug, along with common rug types that are increasingly popular all across.
Here’s the thing: weavers of authentic Oriental and Persian design rugs make their dye using different natural materials derived from animals and plants.
With extensive experience and skill, they have acquired the art of making colorful dyes. These don’t bleed through rugs or into one another.
Want to know whether your carpet is colorfast?
Simply, put a damp rag on the side of a rug and keep it there for a while. When lifting the cloth, see if the rug’s color is transferred on the cloth.
If it’s color-free, then vegetable dyes were used. In other words, it’s an authentic Persian rug. However, if the color has seeped on the damp rag, your rug is an imitation.
On the backside of a rug, you can notice single knots that prove the rug was knotted instead of woven. The ‘knot structure’ provides experts with a deep understanding of knotting methods, efforts, fineness, and rug quality.
Remember, a genuine hand-knotted rug is never flawless. You can see it well in the individual knots. Minor faults and irregularities are entirely normal on a rug’s backside, even if you have a Persian rug.
Knot density can be used to identify a rug’s fineness. Think ‘knot density’ as the screen resolution. The higher the density, the more attractive and detailed the elaborations.
Moreover, these knots require an extensive amount of time, skill, and effort. You can check them to identify premium Persian and Oriental rugs and carpets.
Traditional, hand-knotted rugs consist of natural materials like sheep’s wool, pure silk, cotton, or camel’s hair.
The pile (surface) is typically made from sheep’s wool, whereas the warp (back) is often created with sheep’s wool or cotton.
They can experience more than ten thousand bends before starting to break. It can last several generations, provided you maintain it properly.
On the contrary, machine-made carpets are made of synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. Although they’re more affordable than original hand-knotted rugs, they can easily break over time.
To identify whether a rug is an authentic hand-knotted Oriental one, simply flip it and closely examine its warp (backside).
Hand-knotted rugs are symmetric on either side. Although machine-made rugs are also uniform, they usually lack designs on their backs.
Unlike mass-manufactured machine-made rugs, hand-knotted rugs feature specific designs crafted entirely by hand.
You can also identify if a rug is authentic and hand-knotted just by examining the fringes. A machine-made rug often features fringes that are sewn in the warp and add a finishing touch.
However, genuine Persian and Oriental rugs don’t have sewn-on fringes. They’re one of the most integral parts of a rug instead of some decorative ornament and form the extension of a rug foundation.
Besides knot density and structure, pile heights (rug’s thickness) are a good factor to consider its real value.
The thinner the hand-knotted rug, the higher the quality. This is because only a few experienced knotters can make flat, thin rugs.
Identifying Antique Rugs By Origin
Believe it or not, there’s a range of rug styles and designs available from previous eras. The styles and designs vary based on the areas they were created and the manufacturing techniques utilized to make them.
In fact, you can easily find valuable antique rugs, from Persian and Oriental to American and Scandinavian.
To identify antique rugs, make sure to examine their appearance and construction and compare them to the most common rug types:
Persian And Oriental Rugs
Oriental rugs spring from all across Asia and the Middle East, including China, Turkey, and India. These are but a few popular regions for Oriental rugs.
One of the best and increasingly popular Oriental rugs worldwide is the Persian rug which originates from modern-day Iran (previously the Persian Empire).
Since this region has made rugs for centuries, you can find various antique Persian rugs available today as they were highly collectible.
Various classical design elements could help you determine Oriental rugs, although all rugs are special and unique, no matter the style and design:
- Decorative Motifs: Also called Oriental carpets, these rugs feature motifs such as paisley designs, central rosettes, and medallions
- Border And Symmetry: Oriental rugs typically have bordered regions with medallions or all-over consistent design and styles. Also, every rug features symmetry
- Fringed And Bound Edges: You’ll notice both fringed and bound edges
- Consistent Colors: Some of the common colors you’ll find on Oriental rugs include blue, black, ivory, and tints of red
- High Piles: Most Oriental rugs feature higher piles; however, you’ll see flat-woven rugs as well
Unfortunately, the luxurious Oriental rugs are exorbitant and fragile, meaning common antiquarians will have a hard time getting their hands on them.
However, numerous high-quality, beautiful rugs originated in the late 17th Century and 19th Century, often termed the best Oriental Persian rugs.
Persian rugs usually employ an all-over, central medallion, one-sided, or compartmentalized design.
Nevertheless, here are some notable Persian rug designs:
- Bakshayesh: It’s a popular 19th Century Persian rug design that features geometric styles and color palettes of reds, blues, ivories, and pinks
- Bijar: Also called home-woven rugs, they are widely known for density and weight. This is because weavers beat weft strands to create heavy, compact weaves
- Esfahan: These rugs are increasingly famous for their color tones and color variation. Known for its unique terracotta-like reddish hue, Esfahan rugs were created with various beautiful design motifs like nature scenes and geometric medallions
- Heriz: The Heriz rug is renowned for its geometric motifs like flowers taking less curvilinear shapes. They come in different warm-toned hues, earthy colors like red, green, pink, and more
- Kashan: These rugs are different from most other Persian rugs because they were made with fine silks. This makes Kashan rugs highly valuable collectible
Continental European Rugs
Although rug-making traditions aren’t as established as Oriental, Europeans make intricate design carpets for centuries.
These Continental European rugs have a few unique characteristics:
- Asymmetrical Designs: Compared to Oriental and Persian rugs, they feature asymmetrical designs and styles
- Muted Colors: You’ll notice various color choices such as green, soft rose, gold, and others. Overall, European rugs have muted colors
- Floral Motifs: Garlands and floral motifs are quite common in Continental European rugs
- Various Weave Styles: These rugs can be flat-woven or have piles
- Matching Architecture: Often, these rugs match the designs of your decorative ceilings
American rugs are one-of-a-kind, high-quality rugs in the world boasting a long, rich history. This is why you’ll see several construction methods and styles in American carpets and rugs from previous eras.
Here’s what to expect when looking for American rugs:
- Indigenous Rugs: American indigenous communities are celebrated widely for their stunning fiver arts. Such Navajo rugs have a flat, tight weave and typically showcase blue, brown, red, ivory, and black colors. They also feature geometric styles and designs
- Art-Deco Rugs: Characterized by boldly delineated and precise geometric shapes as well as classic colors, Art-Deco rugs add a fine touch of the 1920s and 30s to any space
- Art-Nouveau Rugs: These rugs were popular among the masses even before the Art-Deco rugs. Popular in the late 1890s till 1910, these rugs included fluid lines and nature motifs
The Scandinavian region is also famous for its rug-weaving traditions that date back centuries. Within these rugs, you’ll see different classic features, such as:
- Asymmetrical Designs: Scandinavian rugs are mostly asymmetrical like the Continental European rugs
- Geometric Designs: These rugs often have robust geometric designs and styles
- Colors Of The Rainbow: They come in all rainbow colors, from red and yellow to violet, indigo, blue, green, and orange
- Visual Simplicity: Most Scandinavian rugs feature abstract designs instead of figurative representation
- Several Weave Styles: Some rugs are flat-woven, while others have higher piles
How Do You Know If A Rug Is Valuable?
Any hand-knotted rug is extremely valuable, whether Persian, American, European, or Scandinavian. Here’s how to determine if a rug is hand-knotted:
- Check if it’s hand-tufted or hand-knotted
- Check the back and front of a rug
- Authentic rugs always have soft-backing
- Check the fringes
- Material utilized
- Check rug color, knot density, pile thickness, and more
How Can You Tell If A Rug Is Vintage?
Determining whether a rug is vintage or not can be incredibly challenging; nevertheless, here’s how you can smoothly tell if your carpet/rug is vintage:
- Examine your rug’s weaving method, such as Kilims, flat-weave rugs, hand-knotted rugs, braided rugs, or hooked rugs
- Determine the type of rug from Persian to Scandinavian
- Does your rug/carpet look old? To ensure this, look for the date and examine the color. Also, see if it feels less fuzzy and tightly woven
What Are The Patterns On Rugs Called?
There are various design patterns on rugs, such as motifs, curvilinear, and more, each with unique meaning and characteristics.
How Do You Read A Rug Tag?
Reading a rug tag is simple as most labels provide an easy-to-read, straight rug size with width and length on it. For instance, your rug is 9’ x 11’ or 10’ x 14’. Some manufacturers even provide the height of a rug along with the width and length.
Rug Identification App
Have you bought or inherited a carpet but don’t know which type it is or whether it’s a hand-made or machine-made rug?
Luckily, there are various rug identification apps available that you can use to find everything about a rug. From Persian to American rugs, you’ll find a good deal of products with brief descriptions, illustrated examples, and much more.
Although they provide adequate information, they still can’t beat the insights you’ll get from a professional rug dealer.
How Do I Know If My Persian Rug Is Valuable?
No matter what, all Persian rugs are valuable if they’re authentic and hand-knotted. Here are some factors that make Persian rugs valuable:
- Years old
- If you’ve Kerman, Kashan, or Tabriz style rug
Oriental Rug Serial Numbers
Rug labels also include serial numbers, style numbers, model, design numbers, SKU, etc. While serial and other numbers aren’t needed for selling, they help manufacturers and distributors keep inventories of items.
Antique rugs and carpets come in various shapes, patterns, beautiful colors, and styles. In short, there are several things to consider when you try to identify a rug – a beautiful artwork.
Take all the time you need and examine every aspect we mentioned above, and you’ll determine your rug origin.
Looking for specific antique Oriental rugs that meet your budget and design aesthetic? Then check out Vaheed Taheri – the home of smooth, soft yet durable rugs that will make your space bloom with its contemporary design.