Archive for November, 2011

Persian Rugs, Oriental Rugs: Proper Storage

Persian carpets and Oriental rugs are virtually maintenance-free items. Even if they are being constantly walked on and used in a high traffic area, a regular vacuum cleaner is all you need for a relatively long time before your rug will need a professional wash. However, improper storage of area rugs, in case they are not to be used on the floor for long periods of time, can cause serious damage and may result in expensive repair and restoration costs. Following these simple steps will insure safe storage of your beloved and valuable investment even if you are planning to keep your rug in storage for a long time.

The best choice for a storage space would be a room that is dry, cool, and preferably open to natural light. Although we may not have access to a separate room with these specifications, a closet or a space underneath the bed will do the trick. However, any space with extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity, such as basements and attics, should be avoided as the alternative storage space for Persian and Oriental rugs. If you live in relatively humid climates, use a dehumidifier to control the conditions in the storage area. A regular electric timer will run the device a few hours a day and save on your electric bill. Remember that the storage space needs regular cleaning as dirt and dust attract insects. Contrary to common belief, you should avoid blocking the natural light from entering into the storage area. You should know that a dark environment, poor ventilation of air, and humidity are the most general causes of trouble in any storage area for wool rugs.

Storing Rugs

Storing Rugs

Have your rug rolled up rather than folded and do not store it directly on the floor. The space between the floor and the back side of the rug provides ideal living conditions for insects. Always roll your rug in the direction of the nap, and not against it, to avoid pressure on the knots. We recommend that you unroll your rug every two to three months, vacuum clean it, and let it get some fresh air, or ideally, some sunlight. To prevent storing damages, it would be a great idea to have your Oriental or Persian rug professionally washed before storing it. For additional precautions, have your rug mothproofed as well. Protecting your Oriental or Persian rug against moth damage has been discussed in length in a separate article which can be found in our blog. You should only keep in mind that the source of the infestation may have developed earlier when your rug was being used on the floor or was hung on the wall, but in the quiet, dark surroundings of your storage space, the infestation may rapidly grow.

At first Tyvek papers that are water and fire proof, and used for shipment of rugs, may seem to be the ideal choice to wrap up your rugs in. However, they do not let your rug breath and should therefore be avoided. If you prefer to wrap your rug in something, a regular sheet of cotton would be an option. Any wood material that comes into contact with your rug in the storage area needs to be coated with varnish, since the acids of the wood can damage your rug in the long run. For antique and more expensive area rugs, a sheet of polyethylene can be wrapped around them as a protection against water damage in the event of a leak. Remeber that these rugs are intended to be walked on and not to be stored, and that improper storage practices can insert too much pressure on the foundation, creating creases and bubbles which may be very difficult to remove.

Tyvek Paper

Tyvek Paper

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Persian and Oriental Rugs: Turkish Rugs

Out of all types of Persian and Oriental rugs, Turkish carpets are among the most sought after household items all over the world. Rug weaving is a widespread form of art with Turkish people dating back to 13th century. Turkish rugs have been used as a natural barrier against the cold, covering floors as well as doorways and walls due to fluctuations of temperature between day and night, and between winter and summer. Traditionally, women and girls took up weaving both as a hobby and as a means of earning extra income. Rug weaving is one art form that is seldom appreciated as being the work of a famous artist.

New Turkish Azeri rug

New Turkish Azeri rug

Generally, older Turkish rugs have a wool foundation and a simple, non-intricate pattern. Due to the fact that wool cannot be spun finely, the KPSI (number of knots per square inch) in rugs of this category is not higher than 100. In newer pieces, the foundation is almost always cotton and the pattern is either floral or geometric displaying more detail. A cotton foundation results in a much higher KPSI in these rugs. Turkish rugs are very rich in design, color, and symbols, and are produced in more than 700 villages and tribal areas throughout Turkey. Although they may look similar, each Turkish rug is an unique creation. They come in many different sizes, but anything larger than 9 X 12 feet would be considered less common. In most Turkish rugs, two shots of weft is inserted on top of each row of knots, and the average knot density is from 100 up to 800 KPSI (for silk Turkish rugs). The best example of high quality Turkish rugs would be Hereke, produced in the coastal town of Hereke near Istanbul with either a wool or silk pile and sometimes gold or silver threads used in the pile. In recent years, some Chinese silk rugs have been sold in Turkey, unfortunately as genuine Hereke rugs, thereby damaging the reputation of these fine Turkish rugs.

 

Antique Turkish Rug

Antique Turkish Rug

Handmade rugs have always been considered far superior to industrial carpeting by Turkish people. They protect their rugs by taking off their shoes upon entering their homes. A Turkish mosque is often covered from wall to wall with handmade carpets, and there is no chair or table. However, as synthetic dyes were introduced to the Turkish rugs industry over 100 years ago, weaving hand-knotted rugs with natural dyes did not remain unharmed. Fortunately, there has been a considerable amount of work and effort carried out by European and American importers aiming to bring back the traditional methods of weaving rugs using handspun wool and natural dyes within the Turkish rug industry.

Gradually, Turkish carpets found their way to European markets and soon became more popular. These rugs were first purchased by the Dutch as Netherlands gained more economic power during Seventeenth century, and came to indicate the higher social status of their owners. Demand by the U.S. market has also been rising during the last couple of decades, with an inclination toward softer colors found in older pieces. Producers of Turkish rugs have responded by unraveling fragments of antique Kilims and using the old wool to make new rugs. Whether these pieces should have a price tag equal to genuine old pieces of Turkish rugs remains open to debate.

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Persian Rugs: Turkeman

Rug weaving is undoubtedly one of the most ancient forms of Turkeman applied art. However, just like the Turkeman people themselves, Turkeman style of Persian rugs is very little understood. The term “Turkeman” refers to a large tribe spread around Golestan and Khorasan provinces of Iran. Please note that as we are concerned with Persian Turkeman rug weaving here, the history of Turkemanistan is not being studied.

Persian Turkeman

Persian Turkeman

Even though rugs of patterns similar to Bokhara and Afghan are woven by Turkemans, it should be mentioned that they have produced some of the most unique pieces of Persian rugs for many centuries. It is believed that Turkeman weaving started as door rugs for their “Yurts”, the center of family life. In these rugs, patterns are repeated and geometric diamond-shaped motifs, displayed by ornamentation of main and supplementary “Guls”. By these guls, Turkeman weavers reflect their feelings and dreams, hopes and wishes, as well as their joy and grief. Colors of deep red, dark blue, brown, green, and ivory are the most common in Turkeman rugs. Vegetable dyes are used in most of older pieces of Turkeman rugs, and chrome dyes in newer ones. Although Turkeman rugs come in sizes as large as 9 by 12 feet, pieces larger than 5 by 7 feet are less common. As for the foundation, warp is either cotton or wool, and weft is wool, with two shots of weft inserted over each row of knots. Pile is often cut short displaying the pattern more vividly. Average knot density is around 120-150 KPSI, though it can be much higher in some old pieces, making them quite valuable.

Turkeman women learn this traditional art from the early age. The “Salor” tribes are considered to be initiators of Turkmen rug-weaving. It is hard to say when the Turkeman people began to weave their first rugs, but our best estimates is that these rugs have been produced from the very ancient time. Weavers create the whole composition and ornamentation of the rug only by means of their imagination and memory, combining patterns in new interpretations. The nature gives Turkemans all necessary material to make fine and durable rugs. The yarn for the production of rugs is acquired from the wool of “Sarajin” sheep. Having absorbed the heat and cold, dyes and fragrances of the environment, this wool is in accordance with the world standards.

Odd sizes of Turkeman rugs are to be seen once in a while. There are pieces of very long and narrow hall runners (Navar) woven in the style of Kilims, used to decorate around the ceiling of the tent, or pieces in a square shape of different sizes (Mafrash) to store the blankets, pillows and other sleeping gear in. There has also been woven pieces of smaller size in the shape of a circle or a long band to be

Typical Turkeman Design

Typical Turkeman Design

used on the body and around the neck of animals, mostly horses and camels on special occasions such as weddings and birthdays. Being so unique, some of these odd pieces are quite valuable and often regarded as collector items. A magnificent collection of antique pieces of Turkeman rugs is owned by the renowned Persian researcher and collector, Dr. Siavash Azad, who resides in Germany. Dr. Azad is also the author of one of the best books ever written on the subject of Turkeman rugs. As nomads are subject to more and more conflicting interest against formalities and legalities imposed by local governments, and as they are absorbed to new jobs created by technological advances, the production of such tribal and authentic Persian rugs decreases rapidly. Similar to many other forms of applied art, Turkeman weaving is sure to disappear altogether within the next few decades. This makes it all so much more important that we try to preserve the ones available today, as they will soon be impossible to replace at any price.

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Persian Rugs: Qashqai

With an estimated population of over a million, the Qashqai are a relatively large tribal group scattered mainly around the city of Shiraz in Fars province of Southern Iran. Turkish-speaking tribal clusters began entering Central and Southern Iran during the 11th and 12th centuries. The movement of smaller and larger groups of pastoral tribal families of different ethnic backgrounds, including Turks, into and out of Fars continued up to the 19th century. This region also covered Bushehr and Kohgiluyeh provinces of today up until the same period. Also During the 19th century, the Qashqai was converted into a relatively large tribal federation, mainly formed by Turkish-speaking pastoral nomads. Fertile land with adequate amounts of vegetation for grazing of their herds stretched to areas in central Iran, and their winter pastures to areas further South closer to the Persian Gulf. Many Turkish-speaking tribal groups, as well as groups belonging to other ethnic groups in the region, were integrated into the Qashqai. The non-Turk groups, in time, accepted the language and other ethnic identity characters of the Qashqai.

Qashqai Weavers

Qashqai Weavers

Qashqai tribes speak a particular dialect of the Turkish language. They move to higher or lower elevations within the area, together with their herds of sheep and goat with the passage of a season to another. This explains why most of their rug production comes in smaller pieces which are woven on an horizontal loom, normally made of wood. A large number of hall runners are also woven by Qashqai tribes. Historically, Qashqai women took on weaving Gabbeh rugs for their own use, mostly as a prestigious asset at the time of their wedding. These rugs used to have colored decorations along the fringes or the side selvedges.

Majority of Qashqai rugs have a high quality, hand-spun wool and natural dyes, making them some of the most durable of Persian rugs. Both the acquisition of wool and the dyeing of the wool are carried out locally. The pattern is highly geometric in Qashqai rugs, often including drawings of animals, birds, and sometimes the head of a horse as inspired by their environment. Two of the most popular designs in Qashqai rugs are called Shekarlu and Kashkooli. Both warp and weft threads are usually cotton, but wool foundation would not be very rare in older pieces. Qashqai rugs are typical examples of tribal Persian rugs. They are very decorative and look fantastic in many different settings. Average knot density in Qashqai rugs is 150-180 KPSI.

A Persian Qashqai Rug

A Persian Qashqai Rug

As Gabbeh rugs gained more and more popularity in Western markets, many weavers of this area shifted their production from traditional Qashqai to contemporary Gabbeh rugs. Qashqai rugs are becoming a thing of the past. The renewed introduction of Gabbeh, together with a sharp increase in decentralization of Qashqai nomads and engagement in non-pastoral and non-traditional economic activities have resulted in a sudden drop in the production of Qashqai rugs. Antique pieces of Qashqai rugs are valuable collector items and very difficult to come by.

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Persian Rugs, Oriental Rugs: Protection against moths

Being so small and quiet, moths rarely attract your attention, but can cause extensive damage to the wool pile of your favorite Oriental and Persian rug. There is nothing more irritating than discovering an uninvited visitor has dined on your beloved Persian rugs. You may see the moths, which are about half and inch long and a silvery brown color, flapping their wings rapidly, but they are not the cause of the physical harm to your rug. To be more precise, moths do not eat your rug, but the eggs laid by a female moth hatch into larvae, and it is the larvae that lovingly consume wool. They can bring about serious problems and costly repair work for area rugs. But there are precautionary measures to take against these insects.

Moths

Moths

The most effective way of fighting moths is to prevent their arrival in the first place by regular inspections of your rugs. Make the habit of periodically checking your rugs for silvery-looking threads about an inch long. These are the larvae cases and indicate that moths are present. Never let food stains remain in your rug as they make it much more likely that your investment will be attacked by moths. If your rug is being used on daily basis, use a vacuum cleaner on it at least once a week, and vacuum the back side at least every six months. If it it is going to be stored for a relatively long period of time, have your rug rolled up rather than folded. A dark environment, poor ventilation of air, and high levels of humidity provide the most inviting conditions for moths. They feed from fibers of the pile, but usually not from the foundation. We recommend that you unroll your stored rug once every two to three months, vacuum clean it, and let it get some fresh air, or preferably, some sunlight for a couple of days. It would also be a great idea to have your Oriental or Persian rug professionally washed before storing it. For additional precautions, have your rug mothproofed.

Moths hate to be disturbed or exposed to light. Fortunately, their life cycle is only about 21 days, so frequent cleaning of your rug and exposure to daylight should get rid of them. However, the most effective method for controlling moths in area rugs is to have them professionally washed after a few years of everyday wear and tear. Another method of partially fighting moths would be the use of mothballs which contain the chemicals naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. They produce vapors that, in adequate concentration, will gradually kill insects. However, the vapors build up to the required concentration only in an airtight container, making this a rather useless strategy for rugs. In addition, mothballs give off a distinctive, unpleasant odor that can be removed only by professional cleaning.

Fabric Damaged by Moths

Fabric Damaged by Moths

Moth proofing chemicals can be purchased at many local stores and applied directly on the surface as well as the backside of your Oriental rugs. However, we recommend that you have this done by a professional who will decide on the amount of chemicals to be applied according to the material and quality of the rug in question. It will cost to have moth proofing done professionally, but it may well be worth the expenses as an important protection for your valuable investment.

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Persian Carpets and Oriental Rugs: Removing A Chewing Gum

Gums and Rugs

Gums and Rugs

You have this wonderful Oriental or Persian rug on your floor, and you have been trying to take good care of it, but someone has dropped a piece of chewing gum on it by accident. You have tried everything you could possibly think of, and nothing seems to be working. It just looks like the gum is there to stay for life. Do not let this ruin your day. With a moderate amount of work and effort, you will be able to get it off. In most cases, a chewing gum dropped on a piece of Oriental rug or Persian carpet blends in with the pattern and goes unnoticed. Over time it hardens and looks as though it was part of the pile itself. You notice the spot when the gum has been sitting there for a while and is now surfacing as a dirty spot on your beloved piece of artwork. Follow the instructions below, and remember that the process requires some time and patience in order to avoid pulling off a piece of the pile.

1- Drop a few pieces of ice cubes into a small plastic bag and hold it directly on top of the gum. The idea here is to freeze the gum to the point of becoming crispy and breakable.

2- Using a screwdriver or a metal scraper, gradually remove the frozen gum, which may begin to soften after a few minutes. If that is the case, hold the ice cubes on top of the spot to refreeze the gum.

3- Remove the loose bits of the gum with a regular vacuum cleaner. You will begin to see the results of your labor now. However, you are not done yet.

4- Prepare a solution of lukewarm water (one glass) and regular dish detergent (one table spoons) in a bowl. Stir it to build up some foam. Grab a regular brush with soft bristles, go back and forth on the surface of the spot area, using small amounts of the solution at a time. Make sure the pile of your rug feels wet to the touch, and avoid soaking it completely as it may cause color bleeding. Lay the rug flat, preferrably outdoors, and let it dry. An industrail fan can be used to speed up the drying process. Let your rug get completely dry before you start using it in your home again, as it can otherwise give out an unpleasant odor.

You may now notice that the colors look a bit brighter in the troubled spot. This is because in this area the pile is cleaner than the rest. It will gradually go back to be in harmony with the rest of the rug as you walk on it. However, if this color variation bothers you too much, have your rug professionally cleaned or apply the same “surface cleaning” to the entire piece. However, keep in mind that you should never have the rug washed before removing the chewing gum first as it is not going to vanish during the washing process. Enjoy your rug.

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