Oriental and Persian rugs come in an enormously large variety of colors and designs piled up over the past few centuries. One of the main characteristics of handmade rugs to be examined is their age. Not only is it very difficult to determine the age of an Oriental rug or Persian carpet, it can also only be done approximately. As a general rule, any hand-knotted rugs over 100 years old are termed “antique”, those of between 50 and 100 years “semi-antique”, and those between 30-50 years are simply termed “old” pieces. The warp, in most cases cotton, runs vertically through the length of the rug and the weft, also normally cotton, runs horizontally across the rug. It logically follows that the fringe of a rug is actually the warp thread sticking out from either side of the rug and if you could pull it all the way out, you would end up with a missing thread of the fringe on both sides. The weft is inserted over each individual row of knots and pressed down with a special comb-like tool as the process of weaving the rug continues. There can be either one or two shots of weft on top of each row of knots. In fact, the number of weft threads as well as their color is a strong indication of its origin when it comes to Persian rugs which are always named after the city or village where they have been made.
In a simple form, the thickness of the warp and weft threads determines the fineness of the quality. The Thinner the warp, the smaller the knots tied onto them giving way to a higher number of knots per square inch enabling the weaver to show more detail and creating a more intricate pattern. Similarly, the thinner weft means less space between rows of knots making the rug more tightly woven. We need to keep in mind that for a weaver with average speed, the higher KPSI also means longer weaving time. It becomes obvious that the KPSI as well as the size of the rug to be produced needs to be decided before the work begins. Handmade rugs come in many different qualities and KPSI ranges from around 50 to over 1000. Designs can be categorized as either geometric or floral. In typical geometric patterns, as the name implies, a few lozenges and octagons surrounded by other geometric motifs generously cover the middle field framed by a similar, primitive-looking border. As for floral designs, an elegant center medallion is emphasized against a background of contrasting color, filled with decorative flowers and spiral-shaped tendrils forced together by four corners, and finally framed by a border with as much detail as the field itself highlighting symmetry in a strong form. Generally speaking, floral, city-made rugs are more suitable for formal settings whereas geometric, village-made carpets go well in more casual environments.
The rug weaving centers of Pakistan are concentrated around the cities of Lahore and Pishawar. As for Indian rugs, most are
produced around Jaipur. However, the more important rug making centers for Persian rugs are scattered around the cities of Tabriz, Isfahan, Nain, Qum, Kashan, Kerman, Yazd, Mashad, Hamadan, Bijar, Abadeh, Cahar Mahal Bakhtiari, Birjand, Malayer, Arak, Tafresh, Shiraz, and Ardebil, each with their unique color combinations and designs, excellent examples of the magnificent craftsmanship of their creators.