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Bijan’s Oriental Rugs
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Oriental Rugs - A buyer’s Guide

  • Ghiordes or Turkish knot

    Turkish Knot

    Formed by looping the pile yarn across two warp strands and then drawing each end back through the inside of both warps.  This “symmetrical knot”. as it is often called, produces extremely compact rugs. It is used almost exclusively by Caucasian and Anatolian weaving groups and also by several in Persia, particularly in the north west of the country. There is no foolproof way to determine if a Turkish knot has been used, but a fair indication can be obtained by looking at the back of the rug.  If two loops or bumps are visible across the warp on which the knot has been tied, the Turkish knot has probably been employed.

    Turkish Knot

  • Jufti Knot
    Vastly inferior knot produced by tying the pile yarn around four or more warp strands, rather than the customary two.  This increases the speed at which a rug can be woven but results in its being less compact and durable.  Use of the jufti was rife in Persia and Pakistan, and are still made with it. These are usually other wise quite finely woven workshop rugs in which the weaver, to save time and money, has employed jufti knots on the single colored, unpatterned areas where a high knot count is not necessary to articulate the design. A simple method of telling whether a jufti knot has been used is to compare the horizontal knot count to the number or warps. If there are more than twice as many warps as there are knots, then the jufti knot has almost certainly been employed.

    Persian Jufti Knot

    Turkish Jufti Knot

  • Fineness of the knotting
    This refers to the number of knots that have been tied per square inch of pile.  The higher the number of knots, the finer the weave. There are no hard and fast rules determining the exact knot count required to justify a rug being referred to as “fine” or “finely knotted”, but any rug over 150 knots per square inch can be considered medium grade, or reasonably finely knotted, and any rug over 250 or 300 would generally be acknowledged as top grade, or fine.
    The fineness of the knotting is not an infallible indicator of quality.  If very thick yarn are used, as they are in some rugs, the number of knots that can be tied per square inch is understandably less than if thinner yarns are employed. Equally, regularity and evenness of knotting are crucial to the structural and compositional integrity of a rug: the knot count should be the same throughout the entire rug and the rows straight and uniformly spaced.  However, a high knot count is necessary to produce extremely intricate designs and the more intricate the design, the more knots needed to ensure its success.  This is particularly true when articulating curved or flowing forms.
    To determine the fineness of the knotting, count the number of individual knots that occupy a linear inch on both the horizontal and vertical axes of any part of the rug, and then multiply the two numbers together. Measurements may be calculated in square feet, centimeters or millimeters, but the square inch and square meter are by far the most commonly used.
    Another common way of measuring the fineness of the knotting is to count the number of knots running width ways along a linear foot across the rug. This is referred to as “line”. and is the standard measurement used fro Chinese rugs, for example, a “160 line” carpet will have 160 knots per linear foot along each horizontal row.
    Pakistani weavers have their own unique way of measuring the fineness of their rugs.  As they use much thinner weft than warp strands, more knots are tied on the vertical than horizontal axis. The fineness of Pakistani rugs is therefore graded as 10/20, 12/24, or 16/18, etc.,  with the first figure referring to the number of knots running per linear inch along the horizontal axis, and the second figure to the number running the same distance along the vertical. A 10/20 Pakistani rug is therefore equivalent in fineness to 200 knots per square inch rug.
  • Clipping
    Once a rug has been completed and taken off the loom, the pile is clipped to its required length. A preliminary clipping usually takes place during the course of the knotting, when the weaver cuts the pile yarn to an approximate length after he/she has completed a few rows, but the final clipping is a highly skilled job, which, if badly done, can ruin months of work. Amongst nomadic and village groups the final shearing is often done by the weaver, but in workshops a specialist is normally employed. The length of pile after clipping is largely determined by the stylistic traditions of the particular weaving group or by the market at which the rug is aimed.  Some groups have always produced rugs with close cropped piles, while others seem to prefer longer, more fleecy items.  The only other external modifying force is the fact that extremely intricate designs tend to become unclear if the pile is long, which is why most finely knotted rugs are closed cropped.
  • Embossing or incising
    Common in most Chinese and some Indian and Anatolian rugs, this entails cutting an angular groove in the pile around certain motifs to create a relief effect which accentuates elements of the design.  This technique can only be applied in bold, relatively thick outlines, and is therefore only used on rugs which employ reasonably simple designs. In more intricate rugs this accentuating process is normally achieved by outlining the motifs in a different material, usually silk.


  • Washing
    After the rug has been clipped, it is washed to remove any dirt that may have been collected during the weaving process and to give the pile its particular “finish”. Sometimes the rug is simply washed in water and then left out in the sun to dry, but many weaving groups now add chemicals to water in order both to alter the tonal intensity of the colors and to give the pile a gloss or matt sheen Light chemical washes simply take the edge off the harsher colors, reproducing a degree of the tonal mellowness that comes with age, and have only a minimal effect on the integrity of the pile. Heavy chemical washes, however, particularly those which dramatically reduce the tonal intensity of the colors or introduce a high gloss sheen, can seriously weaken the fabric and undermine the durability of the rug. There are several different washes currently in use, but the most common are:
  • Gold washing
    Used to bleach out the red tones.  This process can sometimes weaken the pile fibers, but it produces extremely attractive shades of muted red and rose.
  • Sun washing
    Refers to rugs left in the sun until their colors are bleached to more mellow shades.  This term is now commonly applied to a number of rugs, particularly from Anatolia, which have light pastel shades.  However, this “sun washed” effect, which emulates the aging process, is often achieved by chemical washing, and it is advisable not to take the term too literally. A simple way to tell whether a rug has been sun washed or chemically washed is to open the pile.  If the colors are lighter near the surface, the chances are that it either older or has genuinely been bleached by the sun. In practice, only Kelims are usually finished in this way.
  • Luster Washing
    Gives the pile a glossy, silken appearance, which can be extremely visually appealing. It is most widely used in Pakistan, and all but the poorest quality Mori Bokharas are normally given a luster wash. Dealers often tell potential customers that the rug’s silken appearance is due to the superb quality of the wool. This is nonsense; the luster is solely the result of the chemical washing.
  • Antique washing
    The term given to a chemical wash that reproduces the effects of the age.  It is normally on a range of Chinese rugs which employ the more traditional designs, and can sometimes be so authentic in appearance that experts have been fooled.
  • Painted rug
    One which has been dyed on the surface after the weaving has been completed. This technique was developed to intensify certain colors which could not be produced in deep enough shades in the yarn, and was often used on rugs from the Arak region of Persia, particularly on Lilian Sarough. Today this method is in decline.

Sizes and Shapes

In the East it is customary to employ several rugs in an overall floor plan, rather than opting for one large, centralized carpet as in the West. This has a number of practical advantages from a furnishing and decorative point or view. If the owner moves to a larger or smaller premises, rugs can simply be added or taken away; equally, if a rug is damaged another can be purchased for far less than it would cost to have the entire floor covering replaced; and by simply interchanging rugs it is also possible to alter the whole appearance of a room.  It is perhaps for these entirely practical reasons that each approximate size and shape of rug is known by a specific name which usually relates either to its traditional position on the floor or the purpose for which it was made.
How rugs are measured depends on the individual country. Linear measurements may be given either in imperial (English) or metric units, but area is normally quoted in square meters.

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