A Persian rug is a much-underrated beautiful art form that has tremendous practicality. A genuine artisan product unchanged in the materials and weaving techniques for centuries, an excellent quality Persian rug has the living spirit’s signature. Many are the same designs and colours, woven with wool, silk, cotton, goat, and camel hair seen and enjoyed hundreds of years ago. Some are newer creations but still have that definable aura of humankind creating practical beauty to furnish their homes- whether a cottage, castle, or tent.
They are always made by hand, i.e., each knot is tied by hand around a warp thread in their thousands or millions. The wool, camel, and goat hair came from local flocks (not so much anymore, with ubiquitous Merino Australasian wool being cheap and soft), the silk from cocoons, and cotton harvests (far from being a kind to the environment crop!). Traditionally the dyes were vegetal – i.e., from vegetable, plants, roots, barks, and minerals. Nowadays, manufactured chemicals dyes are used for their inexpensiveness and ease. No machines are used in weaving. It is a sustainable product that provides crucial income across Near, Central, and Far Asia.
A traditional rug is primarily an indoor picture – very often a stylized version of an indoor garden with its borders, watercourses, and floral motifs. They bring the beauty of nature inside your home. The colours and balance of design provide the perfect foundation for building a room and, in chillier months, give a visual and practical warmth. A sensible person who has the luxury of starting a room with a blank canvas should choose a rug they love before taking fabric books and paint swatches. You can leaf through thousands of these in situ- try looking at thousands of rugs in the room! Not impossible, but exhausting, time-consuming, and impractical. It is very satisfying to connect the various elements in the room by picking either natural or complementary colours.
Many rugs use age-old symbols to tell a story- whether of the natural world the weaver has observed and soaked up around her or of more formal Pan-Asiatic motifs seen in the architecture of mosques and palaces. A Persian or Oriental rug is a taste of Asia and brings the exotic and unusual into uniform Western homes. A tribal artifact can be small but hung on the wall with a soft spotlight becomes a focal and talking point. A collectible rug made by a bride for her wedding dowry to show her weaving expertise. Therefore, her extra value to her new household is a unique and touching example of human creativity.
Silk rugs are the epitome of luxury and beauty. Often made to an extremely high knot count, silk is a smaller and more malleable yarn than any other material. They give the user a 360-degree difference in tones and shades. The detail in a fine silk rug is quite astonishing, and it is hard for us non-weavers to believe the knots were tied by hand. They are surprisingly hard-wearing, and silk is the best material for regulating temperature. They are best used in a quiet area, like a study or bedroom, as they can become dirty with tar and oils from outdoor shoes and should only be cleaned by an expert. A pictorial silk rug hung on a wall and well-lit is an original way of decorating and shows the beauty of design, colour, and all-over workmanship to its best.
A rug is easily transportable! In these days of increased renting, it is one item which can say ‘this is ME and this is MY home. An excellent quality handmade rug will immediately cover a depressing or dirty carpet, and you will feel the reassurance of cleanliness underfoot. A broad selection of small to medium size rugs can be used in the living room, bedrooms, and hallway wherever the flat or house.
Rugs are hygienic. Wooden and stone floors do not trap dust and dirt, so anyone with allergies should use a wool rug to function as a room filter. Vacuuming once a week on a medium to strong suction will remove the particles. Used with a suitable underlay, the dirt will fall through the rug, and every six months, the back of the rug and floor underneath should be vacuumed to sanitise this hidden area.
Rugs are practical for every room in the house. In a sitting room, they are warm and comfortable to sit and lie on – great for playing games and lounging watching a film. One with plenty of colours and design will hide a wealth of spills and stains, thus allowing you to get on with living and not worry about acres of plain wall-to-wall carpet. The same applies to a dining room rug which will give a frame to the table and serve as a blotting paper. Using a wool piled hall runner will completely banish unsightly foot traffic patterns, and the dirt is easily vacuumed out. As with all rugs, they do maintenance and need cleaning properly by an expert every five years or so. The colours will reappear, and the pile bounces back up.
Specialists can restore a hand-knotted rug. An expert can make the repair invisible from the front, so always inspect the back of a rug to see any re-woven area. It is not always cost-effective to do this but ask a trustworthy expert, and they will advise you. Your favourite rug does not have to be thrown away just because the puppy chewed it, or a guest spilled wine and did not tell you!
Rugs are incredibly good heat and sound insulation. A north-facing room benefits from a thick rug, and any room that reverberates sound, especially a noisy dining room, will instantly become bearable as the sound is absorbed. Underfloor heating is a worry for some and is a justifiable concern. The heat from beneath a rug will dry out the warp and weft (the base) and make any pile, be it wool or silk, brittle. This is the same problem as artificial heat drying out wooden furniture and causing it to crack. Therefore, it is imperative to use a superior quality underlay that reduces the effect of the heat.
A good-quality rug becomes part of the family. The wool becomes polished with use, especially if leather-soled slippers or bare feet tread on it. The natural oils in the wool impart a lustre and sheen that is comparable to the patina on an antique table. In particular, the colours, natural vegetal dyes, mellow with light and wear and get better and better with age. For those less particular about perfection, the puppy stains and chews, the kids’ spilt juices, and the late at night knocked-over red wine become part of the family story. In short, a tapestry of family life over the decades.
If you are careful and have bought a decent quality rug before properly caring for it over the years, it can be either handed down or sold for a reasonable price. However, the latter is rarely true as the market is glutted with new and older rugs – those not at the antique rug stage – so prices are low. However, the use and enjoyment the rug has given are enough, and any monies gained from the selling is just a bonus.