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Oriental Rugs: Hand-knotted vs. Machine-made

You’ve decided to buy an Oriental rug and are now confused about the differences in a hand-knotted rug and a machine-made rug. There are a lot of experts out there who will tell you that there are noticeable differences in hand-knotted and machine-made Oriental rugs, and in many cases this is true. However, it takes a keen eye and the right knowledge to discern the differences between hand-knotted and machine-made Oriental rugs.

Check Out the Back of the Oriental Rug

Some people believe that the best way to identify a machine-made Oriental rug is to look at the back where you will see that the rug is not actually knotted (as in a handmade rug). Instead you will see a latex backing which is rough to the touch. However, you need a discerning eye.

First, because according to the experts at many machine-made Oriental rugs can have a clean, soft reverse side if they were power loomed. Second, because hand-knotted Oriental rugs sometimes have a rough back due to the hand-knotted runners or when starch has been applied to the back in order to make the rug more secure.

Another tip that some offer when looking at the back of your Oriental rug is to check out the quality of the design believing that if it is less defined on the reverse side then the Oriental rug has not been as tightly knotted. While this may be true in some instances, it is not a final indicator because not all high-quality Oriental rugs have tight uniform knots or show a great deal of weft from the reverse side.

While you’re looking at the back of your hand-knotted Oriental rug, you may be tempted to check out the rows of knots and feel that because it took more time to create and is more intricate in design than a machine-made Oriental rug, it is therefore a higher quality weave. But don’t be swayed by the density alone. More knots do not necessarily mean your Oriental rug is of higher-value and quality. You can just as easily find a low quality hand-knotted Oriental rug as you can a low quality machine-made Oriental rug. It really is more about the quality of the materials used, such as the Afghanistani Ghazni Wool to make this beautiful traditional hand-knotted Oriental rug from the Angora collection.

Find Out What Materials Were Used to Produce Your Oriental Rug

Both handmade and machine-made Oriental rugs have been known to use wool and synthetic fibers in their production. So how do you know if your Oriental rug contains high-quality wool? The guys at suggest that you conduct a shred test.

Give the Oriental rug a good vacuuming on both sides then with one hand, rigorously agitate the pile back and forth about a dozen times or so. Roll all the excess fibers into a ball and release it. If the fibers are equal to or greater than the thickness of the rug, it is likely that it was made with a lesser quality wool.

Keep in mind inconsistencies in weave and number of knots can also be influenced by the place of origin. Different types of construction have to do with where and how your Oriental rug was made, including the loom used, the type of knot tied, and the technologies employed.

The only real way to determine if an Oriental rug is machine-made is to look for the tag. If it say’s power-loomed than there is no question that it was machine-made. However, it could still be a high-quality, finely crafted product such as this traditional machine made Oriental rug from the Diamond collection.

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