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Oriental Rugs: Wefts and Warps

If you don’t know the first thing about Oriental rugs, then you are probably scratching your head right about now wondering what a weft or a warp is. No, it is not space terminology from some sci-fi movie.

In fact, wefts and warps are very much a part of rug construction as are carding, combing, torching, and basic knotting. Here’s how these terms apply to the manufacture of Oriental rugs such as this hand-knotted Afghanistani Ghazni Wool beauty.

Warps and Wefts in Oriental Rug Making

In order to create an Oriental rug, weavers begin by stretching cotton, wool or silk cords vertically through the rug for the length of the loom. The cords, also known as warps, are generally the heaviest cords in the Oriental rug and are ultimately used to create the fringe.

On the other hand, the horizontal cords which run across the width of the Oriental rug are called wefts and are woven through the warps. Typically of the same fiber type and color as the warps, the wefts are hidden when you look at the rug from the front. Many times the color of wefts is specific to the type of rug.

These warps and wefts form the foundation of the Oriental rug as each successive row of knots is tied on the warps and more wefts are woven over and under the warp cords creating the overall design and final product such as in this high-quality hand-knotted traditional rug from the Angora collection.

Basic Knots in Oriental Rugs

The two basic knots used in Oriental rugs are symmetrical knots also known as the Turkish or Giordes knot and are often found in Tabriz and Hamadans Oriental rugs. The asymmetrical knot, sometimes called the Senneh or Persian knot, is usually found in Oriental rugs from Kashan and Kerman. Keep in mind that just because the knots are named Turkish and Persian this does not denote that they are only used by weavers from these particular areas of the world.

Carding and Combing to Create Oriental Rugs

There is a lot of work which goes into the making of just one Oriental rug. But before a weaver can even begin to create his beautiful piece of work, he has to prepare the wool he will use to weave the Oriental rug.

Carding is the process of pulling the fibers the weaver will be using to make the Oriental rug between two spiked paddles to arrange the strands randomly. Most carding is done by machine these days; however there are still purists out there who continue to do it by hand. The next step is combing them through spiked blocks to untangle and align the fiber in a parallel manner. Once the carding and combing are complete, the weaver can spin the fiber to prepare it for weaving.

Sometimes after weaving an Oriental rug, the weaver may use a technique called torching. Torching is the process of burning away stray strands of wool on the reverse side of the Oriental rug in order to give it a cleaner, sharper appearance. Just because the reverse side has not been torched and has a less defined backside it does not mean the Oriental rug has a lesser value or that it has not been tightly knotted.

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