Archive for November, 2012

Oriental and Persian Rugs: Where Are The Best Ones Made?

A New Pakistani Rug

A New Pakistani Rug

Hand-knotted Persian carpets and Oriental area rugs are, without a doubt, wonderful works of art. Being produced by individual weavers with different skills and abilities, Oriental and Persian rugs come in so many different qualities. What makes an area rug a “good” piece of artwork includes the use of high quality material and dyes, an attractive pattern displaying harmony, and a professional finish to the ends and edges. The oldest piece of hand-woven rug in existence today, dating to 2500 years ago and found in Siberia, is believed to be a Persian rug. It is only then logical to assume that the best rugs belong to this group as well. However, with the new rugs made during the past couple of decades, showing so much innovation in design and colors while reviving the traditional methods of weaving, the story becomes completely different. Among Turkish, Persian, Egyptian, Chinese, Afghan, Indian, Tibetan, and Pakistani rugs available on the market today, which ones are considered “the best”? There are disagreements, of course. But the truth is that there simply is no “best” rug-producing country, and each makes so many varieties of rugs in so many different sizes, shapes, and qualities.

In Turkey, weaving goes back at least eight hundred years. Possession of talented weavers, together with an organized supervision of Western manufacturing firms have resulted in some top quality rugs emerging from this part of the world in recent years. Persian rugs have an enviable past and enjoyed monopolistic powers in a market with no real competitors for so many years. Many Persian weavers are the sixth generation of artists within their families. Above all other types of rugs, the best of Persian rugs

Fine Persian Tabriz Rug

Fine Persian Tabriz Rug

woven today, are most likely to become collector items in a hundred years from now.  This region enjoys the availability of not only the best raw material for production of rugs, but also the most skilled weavers able to tie knots in a density of over seven hundred of them per square inch. The best rugs of Egypt are known as the world’s most decorative pieces. It should also been noted that the concentration of some of the most respected of all rug-makers on Egyptian rugs is perhaps the most influential element for their success.

In regards to Chinese rugs, nobody could beat them for value. At any rate, China has withdrawn from production of rugs on a commercial scale, and is now only weaving silk rugs with a very high KPSI (knots per square inch) and a single weft inserted between each row of knots. These rugs are often exported to Turkey and sold as silk Hereke. No rug expert will argue against the fact that some of the best weavers are Afghans known for their fine, authentic tribal rugs. However, Afghanistan has fallen behind in the rug industry due to its recent turmoil of foreign invasions and civil wars. We can only hope that peace and stability in the region will soon help them get back on their feet and beautiful tribal rugs of Afghan origin once again appear in retail rug stores around the globe. From the vast country of India, we will never be surprised to see so many productions in different qualities coming out. Here again, the supervision of some talented Western manufacturing companies has resulted in the production of magnificent pieces for the past thirty years, and we should expect to see more wonderful Indian rugs in the near future.

There seems to be no ending to the creative imagination of rug producers in Tibet. The woven fabrics made of native Tibetan wool are just so lovely and popular. New patterns and colors have helped Tibetan rugs gain so much fame among consumers, dealers, as well as rug collectors. Pakistani weavers, influenced by their skilled Afghan counterparts during the past couple of decades, are now capable of producing finer rugs than ever before. Perfect color combinations and wonderful patterns are being created in Pakistani rugs, helping them get noticed and recognized within the rug industry.

With today’s technological advances, the world is resembling a large village in which only the sky is the limit. The “best” rugs are made by talented artists who are willing to go the extra mile and produce extraordinary pieces without belonging to a certain region or culture.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Persian and Oriental Rugs: Harmony And Contrast Of Colors

When it comes to choices of colors in weaving Persian carpets and Oriental area rugs, just like in any other work of art, colors need to resemble words that shape a poem. The way color combinations appear to consumers may be the most important factor when choosing a rug for their home. Compromises to the size, shape, origin, and price of a hand-knotted rug may be much easier to be made than it is to compromise the colors. Traditionally, colors on these floor coverings were selected, perhaps intentionally, of sharper colors with lots of contrast because the rug was used to cover an otherwise cold floor, providing more comfort in a home. The rug did not need to match everything else in the house and only had to look good on the floor. However, the ever-changing tastes of consumers today demands more and more revised coordination between colors. During the last couple of decades, with Western rug dealers being more actively involved in all phases of production, Oriental and Persian carpets are manufactured following specific orders. Weavers have moved into concentrated workshops and are increasingly responsive to the demands of Western markets. Handmade rugs are being produced in shapes, sizes, and colors that have been unheard of only thirty or forty years ago. Decorative pieces coming into the market today consist of very few colors, mostly in lighter shades, making them much easier to match with modern homes. This is not to imply that there is no demand for traditional rugs, but it only indicates the ability of consumers to avoid compromises on colors of their choice when buying rugs.

Low Color Contrast, Old Persian Kashan

Low Color Contrast, Old Persian Kashan

Sharp colors express emotion and a high level of energy. When pure and bright colors are used next to each other on a hand-knotted rug, they will not fight against one another no matter how many of them are used. By placing bright and pure colors within areas of low intensity, grayer colors, designers achieve an attractive contrast. As areas of different colors on a rug are viewed side by side rather than far apart, color shifts are perceived at their highest level. Rug designers often arrive at a great deal of harmony by using colors that come close in value or intensity, but not both at the same time. Sometimes colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are used next to each other. The result can be a magnificent complementary contrast. Some colors are considered as “warm” and some as “cool”, and when they are allowed to work together, a wonderful sense of movement emerges. A relatively large area of any specific color is capable of making a strong statement. A high level of movement and energy in handmade rugs can be displayed when many small areas of a specific color are surrounded by a large area containing colors of lower intensity. Small bits of color within this large, low intensity area appear much brighter than they actually are.

There are endless possibilities for color combinations. To achieve an attractive final product, designers of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs utilize their expertise in selecting the “right” colors for a rug, often collaborating with not only weavers but also expert dyers. The weaving of a rug is so labor-intensive that “surprises” need to be avoided at any cost. Any master weaver will testify that the designing phase of the rug production is where you should not try to save any resources on.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Persian Rugs: Sanandaj (Senneh) Rugs

Named after the city of Sanandaj, the center of Kurdistan province and located in the mountains near the Turkish border, Persian rugs of Senneh have few equals as far as the fineness of their texture. They are of a peculiar character, not resembling any other floor covering, even those of Persia. Perhaps, they come closest to Tabriz rugs in quality, but they are completely different in design, texture, and color. The region is surrounded by rug-producing districts, each with its special type and style as different as possible from Senneh rugs, but from none of those do the Senneh weavers seem motivated enough to imitate. Small motifs in the field, principally the “pear” or the “fish” pattern, woven with unlimited fineness and with a skilful toning produced not by shading or grading, but by variations in colors create pieces that are regarded as the most unique handicrafts. The pear, and other small patterns, with the arrangement of stalks with which some of them are combined in the body of the rug, as well as the fine border instruments, are all ornamented by careful and artistic methods into a harmony which makes the whole fabric at once rich and calm as it is fine of texture. In most Senneh rugs, small patterns cover the entire field, but in many a diamond-shaped center medallion appears. This is usually covered with an equally large number of small figures, while the surrounding space, save the corners, is in solid colors or in some detailed design different from that of the center either in the character or the shades of colors, or both, just sufficiently to make the elements distinguishable. In any case, the harmony and evenness are strongly preserved.

Modern Persian Senneh Rug

Modern Persian Senneh Rug

The borders in Persian rugs of Senneh are divided into well-adjusted stripes, the middle one very wide in proportion to the others, and displaying a form of the “Herati” border designs with pale yellow and red predominating within the larger motifs. Here again, the focus is on keeping the overall soft effects of the fabric. The maximum size of the old Senneh rugs is about five by seven feet, but due to the constantly growing demands for larger pieces, they are now being made in other dimensions as well but less frequently in hall runners. Modern pieces of Senneh rugs are, generally speaking, inferior to the antique. The material is somewhat coarser and the colors not so soft, so permanent or so delicately blended though patterns stay as intricate as ever.

Through the general similarities of color combinations and patterns, Senneh rugs are sometimes confused with other types of Persian rugs, notably the “Farahans”, but they may be distinguished by the weave. As far as the number of knots per square inch (KPSI), Farahans normally do not exceed 160 whereas authentic pieces of Senneh rugs have far more than that. In fact they have no equal in this respect, except for some pieces of Tabriz, Sarouk, and Kerman rugs. The warp is of cotton and rarely of silk. Knots are so compacted that, in some pieces, a curling up of the fabric at the sides is not hard to notice. This, and a growing decline in the quality of the colors, are the main shortcomings in modern pieces of Persian rugs of Senneh. The pile in the best pieces of Senneh is more closely trimmed than any other type of hand-knotted rug in existence. Imitations of the Senneh, with minor variations and adjustments, are now included in the general manufacture of such well-known rug-makers as Tabriz.

Antique Persian Senneh Rug

Antique Persian Senneh Rug

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Oriental and Persian Rugs: How Are Natural Dyes obtained?

The whole process of producing Persian and Oriental rugs consists of so many stages, each one of which is carried out by a specialist. Among all these tasks, dying the wool is perhaps one of the most difficult and sensitive as colors play a major role in determination of value (and of beauty) for these works of art. The best expression of a dyer’s skill is, without a doubt, found in different shades of red, a color so often used in hand-knotted rugs. In what apparently conflicting colors the yarns are dipped, to lay a foundation for the final shades of red, is a science in itself. Madder, the root of rubia tinctorum, ground and boiled, is a basis for a large number of the reds of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs. Its flowers, too, are soaked in water, and the liquid made from them fermented, to secure some extraordinary shades of this color. The red most common in Persian rugs is made by combining alum-water, grape juice and a decoction of madder, and drying the yarn in a sunlight of medium temperature. Many degrees of redness, from pale pink to strong and glowing crimson, can be made from madder alone, by different treatments, and in combination with other materials it plays a part in over half the hues which appear in Oriental and Persian carpets. One of the oldest dyes is sheep’s blood, from which, by a secret method, a rich and durable vermilion is achieved.

Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes

Another material for deep red is kermes, a variety of bacterium insects found upon oak trees around the Middle East. The normal color produced from it is a rich crimson. It is one of the oldest of natural dyes, but it has been replaced by the Mexican cochineal, which after the capture of Mexico, and the importation of its products into Spain and from there into the Orient, took its place as an Eastern dye. This is used for the strongest reds, as well as in combination with other materials to give quality to more subdued shades. It is sharper than the native kermes, but not as permanent, according to expert dyers. With the old vegetable mordant, it produces a comparatively  fast dye. Also, in dilution with madder it provides scarlet, cherry  and various degrees of pink. Rich pink shades are often obtained from the rochella or orchil, a lichen which grows on the rocks around the Eastern seas. Singular reds are also obtained from onion skins, ivy berries, beets and a vast number of other plants, of which only expert dyers know the secrets.

The great majority of blues contain indigo as the main basis, which for the hundreds of shades used is mixed with almost every other dyeing substance known in rug-producing countries. In Persia, dyeing with indigo is considered as high an art as is the science of reds in Turkey and Pakistan. The principal yellows are obtained from Persian berries, which although native to Asia Minor, attain a more noticeable yellow color in Persia, from turmeric, the extract of the East Indian root curcuma, and from saffron and sumac roots. The turmeric yellow is not by itself a completely fast color, but transmits a life to other shades when used in combination. It serves as a mordant for certain dyes, and owing to its instant change to brown, when brought into contact with any alkaline substance, is used in chemistry as a test for alkalis. Some yellow shades are produced also by combination of the wood dyes and saffron roots and flowers and a variety of ochra plants. Indigo, in combination with the yellows, furnishes most of the beautiful greens used by native dyers. With the buckthorn, or rhamnus, it produces the Chinese green, and with turmeric and the Persian berries, a wide range of intermediate greens, both bright and dull.

The deepest shades of brown are arrived at by dyeing with madder over indigo, and the deep Persian blue is obtained from applying indigo over pure madder. The darkest blacks, which are seldom used except for outlining patterns, and defining border stripes, are made chiefly from iron filings, with vinegar and skin of pomegranate and sometimes with the addition of Campeche wood. Gray shades are secured by the use of Smyrna gallnuts. The schedule of purples is one of the richest in the whole realm of Eastern dyes. The different red ingredients mentioned above are used in combination with indigo to create most beautiful shades of purple.

This article will justly indicate the honesty which dominates the traditional Oriental coloring. It can also suggest the great variety of materials employed , and the high level of skills required in the blending of substances. Vine leaves, mulberry leaves, laurel and angelica berries, artichokes, capers, ivy and myrtle – all things that grow within the reach of the dyer – have been tried to their fullest extend as possible color-makers and color-changers. Many of the vegetations are cultivated by the dyers on their own land, in the intervals of their momentous labor in weaving rugs.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments