Rug Selection #2: Antique Rugs: Valuable Old Knots

chinese rug

Buy the best and you only cry once – Miles Redd


So….what am I looking at? You can’t make an intelligent selection if you don’t know the choices. Furthermore, even if a the type of rug you really love is out of your price range, it’s smart to know the reasons why the cost is higher.

You may be able to get some of the same qualities in a less expensive rug if you know what to look for.

The top of the line: A hand knotted rug is the oldest form of rug making and came originally from the Far East.  Though it shouldn’t be said that all hand tied rugs are higher quality than machine made as a blanket statement, they are nonetheless considered by some to be the best-made rugs of all. A power loom can’t replicate the strength of tying the yarn to the backing by hand.  Despite the fact, it is an exceptionally labor intensive method, they are still made in almost in the same way as has been done for centuries.

There is individuality to a hand tied rug, even with the hand-made flaws, that in a sense, gives it soul.

The moniker “Oriental rug” actually covers a lot of world real estate from the Near to the Far East.  The six most recognized types are Caucasian (which refers to the Caucasus region, located between the Black Sea in East Europe and the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran.  The area is now know as Checknya.), Turkoman, Turkish, Persian, Indian and Chinese.  The rugs are named for place of origin as well as pattern.

The more knots a rug has, the higher the quality.  The highest quality rugs are heaviest (thanks to all the dense knotting) with a more distinct pattern and finer lines.  How many knots to a high quality Oriental?  They have as many as 800 knots per square inch!  A skilled weaver can tie 12,000 knots a day. Even so, a 9ft. x 12 ft. rug would take over one thousand days to make.

Here is a case where you get what you pay for.

Made of wool, silk and sometimes a combination of the two, these rugs are highly prized not only for durability but also for their rich, beautiful colors and intricate patterns as well.  They can work in most any design scheme from traditional to eclectic and wherever they are placed, that room is made very special.  The antiques of this category are regarded as museum quality works of art and are very costly.  There are grades of these rugs known as “fine” as well as “high quality” that might be more manageable for your pocketbook, though still an investment justified by love and beauty.

There are several types of tribal rugs, that by design don’t have as many knots, but are still high quality. The finest wools or wool/silk blends are used and are still hand knotted. The lower knot count works better for the type of design, which is less detailed than the high knot count Orientals. Due only to the fact of a lower knot count and not quality, the price for these beauties is significantly less.

Meanwhile the Europeans weren’t slouches in the rug department: Savonnerie was the name of the royal factory that manufactured rugs for Louis XIV and Louis XV.  Only kings were allowed to own them.  They were very rarely sold.  These are hand-knotted rugs constructed in a similar way to an oriental rug, but with distinctive floral patterns. Usually the colors were muted with a center design.

Since the Savonnerie rugs never came on the market, the Aubusson rugs were developed in the 15th century to cater to wealthy Europeans with kingly tastes.  They have a flat woven construction and the look of a heavy tapestry with the distinctive floral patterns resembling the patterns of Savonnerie rugs.  These too are usually muted in color with a center medallion.  While the antique European rugs are also very costly, there are newer versions of the Aubusson that are high quality and more affordable.

Next time:  Rug Selection #3: A Variety Of Knots and Weaves

Related Posts

(Rug Selection Four Part Series)

Rug Selection #1: Make A Plan

Rug Selection #3: A Variety Of Knots and Weaves

Rug Selection #4: Fine Tune Your Selection

Photo –

Questions? Write to:

2 thoughts on “Rug Selection #2: Antique Rugs: Valuable Old Knots”

  1. Hi, Very interesting article you have there. I actually run a couple of blogs on this topic, and since I have found some of your articles very informative I definatelty think that my members would enjoy reading them. With that said I would like to place a link to some of your articles on my blogs since they are more detailed than the information posted on my blogs. Thanks for your help!

  2. That’s great if you want to use my articles….just be sure they are identified as from with a link back to my site….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.