An authentic oriental rug is a handmade work of art. This exquisite art form dates back to about 3000 B.C. Often called "functional works of art for your floor," the warmth and beauty of oriental rugs brings interest and luxury to any room in the house.
Originally, oriental rugs were hand-knotted with wool and silk fibers. Over time, newer and non-traditional constructions and fibers have been introduced and mixed, resulting in a larger category into which oriental rugs now fall, broadly referred to as area rugs . The variety of qualities proliferating the industry allows for versatility in function and design as trends come and go.
Handmade area rugs now include these popular qualities and constructions:
A traditional hand-knotted rug is made with wool or silk. They are usually finished with a special luster wash for softness and shine and come with a fringe. Hand-knotted rugs take the longest time to make and therefore the most expensive, but allow for the most flexibility in design and color placement. To construct a hand-knotted rug, the weaver strings cotton threads, called warps, on a frame which becomes the foundation of the rug. The pile yarns, usually wool or silk, are looped around cotton threads one at a time to create a thick pile. Cotton yarns are then woven side to side through the warps to hold them together; the cotton threads are generally tied off into decorative fringes.
A hand-tufted rug can be made with many types of fibers including wool, silk, acrylic or a combination. Hand-tufted rugs are generally less expensive than hand-knotted rugs and offer a tremendous value to the customer. To construct a hand-tufted rug, a cotton canvas is stretched on a frame to form the foundation of the rug. The design is drawn on the canvas in stencil or in outline form. Using a hooking tool, pile yarns are pushed through the foundation, making a loop, which is then cut giving the finished rug a plush or cut pile surface. The back of the foundation is given a latex coating to lock the pile yarns in place. A secondary canvas backing is applied to the rug to give it more stiffness and to cover the latex. In a Hi/Lo hand-tufted rug, the pile of the rug is a combination of cut and loop pile, which is used to create a three-dimensional effect.
Hand-hooked rugs are made exactly the same way as hand-tufted rugs, except that the hand-hooked rug usually has a short, looped pile instead of a thick, cut pile. Also, the backing on a hand-hooked rug is often a light-weight mesh instead of a heavy canvas backing.