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Persian and Oriental rugs are hand-knotted, whether made in tribal or city settings. The weaver uses a variety of knots to tie the material, either wool or silk, around the foundation's warps. The design of each rug can either be copied from an intricate design plate or inspired by the weaver's surroundings and way of life. The type of rug created depends on these factors.

After each row of knots is complete, a weft strand is tightly packed between the newly completed row and the one about to begin, using a variety of coloured wool to form intricate patterns, keeping each knot firmly in place. It is worth noting that one rug can take months or even years to complete, ensuring the owner gains a unique work of art that is not only beautiful but also highly durable and practical.

The weaving of Persian and Oriental rugs involves using various materials, tools, and knots, each explained in detail below. Additionally, we will describe the foundation and dyes used in handmade rugs to give you a better understanding of the craftsmanship that goes into creating these magnificent pieces.

Various materials, tools, and knots are used in the weaving of Persian & Oriental rugs; each explained in detail below, as well as a description of the foundation and dyes used in handmade rugs:


In the art of rug making, the Warps and Wefts are two essential components that create the foundation of a rug. The Warps are the vertical threads that run the entire length of the carpet, while the Wefts are the horizontal threads woven over and under the Warps. Together, they provide a sturdy and stable structure for the pile to be knotted onto. Without the Warps and Wefts, the pile would not have a foundation to hold onto, and the rug would not be able to withstand the test of time. Therefore, they are crucial elements of rug making that contribute to the durability and longevity of a carpet.


A rug's warp comprises vertical strands that run up and down the carpet. This component is essential to the rug's structure as it is where the knots are tied. The wefts are placed between the warp to keep the knots from shifting. The tied loose ends of the warp create the fringe of a rug.



The weft is utilized to keep the knots in place. Before and after each row of knots, the weft strand is passed through the warp, combed, and beaten down. Doing this compacts the row of knots and establishes a tight structure.



Rugs are commonly made using cotton for both the warp and weft. However, some tribal rugs deviate from this norm and use wool, while intricate silk rugs use silk as both a foundation and a pile. In weaving a carpet, "pile" refers to the material or fibre used. The primary materials used in Persian rugs are wool, silk, and cotton. Specific tribal weavers may use camel or goat wool as well.


Persian rugs are known for their exquisite craftsmanship, intricate designs, and high-quality materials. One of the primary materials used in weaving handmade Persian rugs is wool. This material is valued for its softness and durability and the abundance of natural resources available in Iran.

Although camel or goat hair can add sheen to a carpet, they are challenging to dye and may cause the rug to lose its colour faster. Therefore, wool remains the preferred material for Persian rugs. The best wool usually comes from colder high altitudes, and the mountainous topography in parts of Iran provides excellent quality wool. In addition to locally sourced wool, some materials are imported from countries such as Australia and New Zealand, producing high-quality wool.

Kork or Kurk wool is considered the best, softest, and most durable type. This high-quality wool is shorn only from the shoulders and underbelly of a lamb on its virgin cut when the thread is at its finest. It is often used with silk to create luxurious and durable Persian rugs.


Iran is a major supplier of "hand-woven carpet wool" with several regions leading in production. Salmas, Mako, Urmia, and Dasht-e Moghan regions in Azerbaijan; Torbat Heydariyeh, Neishabour, Quchan, Mashhad, and Sabzevar in Khorasan Razavi and North Khorasan, Bam, Jiroft, and Rafsanjan in Kerman province and Fars, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Lorestan and Hamedan areas are some of the leading suppliers. Some of the best sheep breeds in Iran include Makui and Moghani breeds in Makoo and Moghan Plain, Afshari and Kaboud Shirazi in Fars, and Qara Gol and Kurdi in Kurdistan. Wools are categorized by diameter into three categories: First class wool, Second-grade wool, and Grade three wool. The first grade wool includes wool that is less than 30 microns in diameter. The second-grade wool consists of wools with a diameter of 30 to 35 microns. Grade 3 wool includes wools that are 40 microns in diameter. Fleece in tropical parts of Iran is generally softer and more curly, while fleece in temperate and cold regions is coarser and less curly, making it more suitable for carpet weaving. New Zealand and Australian sheep raised for their wool are ideal for making finer yarns and are used in rugs with many ridges. However, Iranian wool gives a more authentic product with a better footprint due to its roughness, crease, and less curl. The best type of Iranian wool is obtained from Kermanshah, Khorasan, Khuzestan, and Baluch regions. Kermanshah and Khuzestan wools are suitable for coarsely woven carpets due to their high height and diameter, while Torbat Heydariyeh and Baluch wools are ideal for medium-woven rugs.


Silk, a luxurious and natural fibre, is known for its delicate and firm characteristics. It originated in China and was later produced in other countries. Though silk is quite costly, some rugs use small amounts of silk fibres and an all-over wool pile to enhance the details and add depth to the character of the rug. However, silk is not commonly used in rugs due to its high expense. It is recommended to use silk rugs as wall hangings or in rooms with low traffic, as the intricate detail and work that goes into making them make them less durable. If a silk rug needs cleaning, it should be taken to a professional Persian rug specialist and dealt with according to their recommendations. Washing a whole silk rug at home should be avoided at all costs.


Cotton is a commonly used material as a foundation for most rugs. It is strong, durable, and can withstand heavy foot traffic. However, specific weavers like the Turkmen use cotton more uniquely. They utilize it to create intricate and eye-catching designs that add a striking contrast in both colour and texture. By carefully weaving white cotton fibres into the rug, they create a stunning and intricate pattern that is visually appealing and adds depth to the overall design. Additionally, mercerized cotton is sometimes employed to create an "art-silk" effect. This process involves treating the cotton fibres with a unique chemical solution that gives them a lustrous and shiny appearance, similar to silk. This adds an extra elegance to the rug's appearance, making it look more luxurious and refined.


Before the knotting process, the wool or silk used in making a rug undergoes treatment and dyeing. The use of dyes in rug making is a subject of differing opinions. While traditionalists insist on using natural vegetable dyes, others argue that chemical dyes have been used for over a century and can produce a broader range of shades and designs that natural dyes cannot achieve.

Both types of dyes have their own set of advantages. Natural dyes create a more subtle and natural colour palette, while rugs made with chemical or chrome dyes tend to look brighter, more vivid, and lively. The choice between the two depends on the desired look of the rug.

Some chemical dyes can be more color-fast than vegetable dyes, and vice versa. Nevertheless, deciding which type of dye is better is often a personal opinion.


Some of the most beautiful colors are obtained from natural dyes; not only do these colors appear more realistic, but their durability tends to be greater than chemical dyes.
Indigo, produced by the fermentation of indigo plant blossoms, is the source of all shades of blue. After around one week of fermentation, the solution becomes amber; when the wool is soaked in the solution and dried in the open air, it oxidizes, turning blue. Mixing different dyes creates various colors; for example, mixing saffron with indigo produces green. Saffron, pear leaves, almonds, and buckhorn berries have different shades of yellow. The most common dye made from plants is Madder, which creates a red color and is quite prevalent in older rugs. Black is obtained by submerging previously dyed brown wool in indigo or using dyes taken from the Logwood trees of Central America or the West Indies. Cochineal is a tiny insect. When the female is roasted and pulverized, the resulting powder produces hues of violet. Many colors in the purple range resulted in combining red and indigo.

The most commonly used vegetable dyes are indigo (initially obtained by extracting and fermenting the leaves of the indigo plant and used to dye wool blue), madder (produced by boiling the dried, chunked root of the madder plant in the dye pot to create a red color), and larkspur (made by boiling the crushed leaves, stems, and flowers of the larkspur plant). These dyes produce dark navy blue, rusty red, and muted gold. In addition, the expensive Saffron flower is used to create rare shades of yellow.

Long ago, dyers realized that as more wool was dyed in a single dye pot, colors became weaker and weaker. Dyers use this notion of depleted dyes to their advantage. The first dyeing produces a deep, intense color. Subsequent dyeing in the same dye pot has lighter, softer colors. Dyers also quickly learned to combine colors to create different hues. For instance, no "vegetable" dye material yields green, an actual color if you're interested in weaving a floral design. To create a green wool color, the wool is first dyed blue and then dyed again with yellow. If you look closely at the green color in a vegetable-dyed rug, you will commonly see that the color is uneven, blue-green in some areas, and yellow-green in others. It's because of the double-dyeing technique.

So, by using the notion that depleted dyes produce different hues and combining some paints through over-dyeing wool, dyers can produce a surprisingly large palette of colors from a minimal variety of materials.


The use of aniline dyes in the Persian region during the late 19th century was unsuccessful, which led to the Persian government banning aniline dye imports at the start of the 20th century. Strict laws were enforced to burn down dye houses that produced aniline dyes, resulting in a shift back to using natural dyes until the introduction of chrome dyes between WWI and WWII. Modern chrome dyes offer reliability, colourfastness and various attractive colours and shades. They quickly gained popularity as an alternative to natural dyes. Chrome dyes are now widely available in a large variety of nuances. They are considered equal to natural dyes in quality. Though they do not provide the same softness in the looks, they are sun- and washproof and maintain their colours even after washing and sun exposure. Carpets made with chrome dyes have a more complex, slightly metallic lustre that mitigates after 10-15 years. It is not uncommon to find a mix of natural and chrome dyes in the manufacturing of a carpet, with weavers using the one that gives the best result. Typically, chrome dyes are used in a carpet's details, while natural dyes are used in the background and larger fields, as the difference between natural and synthetic colours is most noticeable in larger fields. These carpets leave an excellent impression and can be compared to carpets made only with natural colours.


The use of colours in rug design holds immense significance in various cultures. For instance, in Muslim countries, green is considered sacred as it represents 'Mohammed's coat.' At the same time, it is widely used in Chinese carpets. Conversely, yellow is seen as the Emperor's colour in China. Red, on the other hand, is generally perceived as a symbol of power and wealth.
However, with modern rug designs driven by commercial demand, these cultural differences are often overlooked, resulting in a lack of cultural authenticity in these designs.



A skilled artist designs the rug by hand before it is knotted. Detailed design plates or cartoons, which are life-sized paint-by-numbers, are used to create city rugs—these show which color of wool should be used for each knot. Tribal and village rugs may use this method for standard designs, but many are made from the weaver's imagination. Therefore, tribal rugs have more "errors" than city rugs. These imperfections indicate authenticity, and some collectors prefer the raw art form of tribal rugs to the more uniform appeal of city rugs.


Most Persian rugs are pile-woven, the knots tied by hand to the warp strings. Therefore, two factors are essential when discussing knots – density, and type.



Knot density refers to, and is measured by, the number of knots per square inch (KPSI). This is done by counting the number of knots in an inch down the warp and across the weft and multiplying these figures together.

Knot density could be a factor in the value of a rug, but this is not always true. Knot density is usually not a factor in nomadic and some village items. It is not a factor for collectors of these rugs because different standards than workshop rugs judge nomadic and village carpets. Nomads and village groups have various sophisticated tools than other city weaving groups. Their items are valued because their designs are created from memory, their dyes and materials are provided by nature, and most importantly, the weavers' way of life is expressed in them. These rugs generally have a 25 to 100 knots per square inch knot density. Rugs with higher knot density take longer to make, and since nomads migrate as the seasons change, they will have to carry the looms with them if their rugs still need to be finished in time for the migration. Therefore, their rugs tend to have a lower knot density than workshop rugs. The value of these rugs lies in their heritage and simplicity. They have artistic value.
However, in many cities and workshop rugs, knot density is vitally important to determine the price of a carpet. Similar to television resolutions, the more knots (or pixels) per square inch, the sharper the design (or picture). A skillful weaver can tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 6 knots per minute or 360 knots per hour. That means it would take a weaver around 6,480 hours to weave a 9x12-foot rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch. Divide this number by 8 (an 8-hour working day), and it would take one weaver 810 days (approximately two and a half years!) to weave such a rug. A rug as large as a 9x12 is usually woven by two or three weavers so that the above time can be reduced by half or a third, but the labor costs increase. This is one reason why most Persian rugs are considered prestigious items.



The different types or styles of knots have been culturally developed by the various groups and tribes of people as time progressed. The knotting process can be viewed in this video; different rug weaving areas use slightly different techniques and methods; however, the video shows the effort put into creating these masterpieces.


The asymmetrical knot is used in Iran and nearby countries such as India, Turkey, Egypt, and China. The yarn is wrapped around one warp strand to form this knot, passed under the neighboring strand, and returned to the surface. With this type of knot, a finer weave can be created.


The symmetrical knot is used in Turkey, the Caucasus, and northern Iran. It is also used in some European rugs. To form this knot, the yarn is passed over two neighboring warp strands. Each end of the yarn is then wrapped behind one warp and brought back to the surface in the middle of the two warps.


The Jufti knot can be seen in the rugs of Khorasan, Iran. This knot can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical and is usually tied over four warps making the weaving process faster.


After the rug knotting is complete, the pile is very long and uneven, and the pattern is barely from the front side of the rug. At this stage, the pile must be carefully clipped and shaved to the correct height, showing the design and artwork and achieving the desired texture. Washing the rug ensures no color run later in life and removes excess dye and debris. This process may be repeated several times.


Finally, the rug is placed on a 'blocking' device to ensure no shrinkage has occurred during the wash; last-minute checks are made as quality control is vital. The rug is then packaged and flown or shipped to showrooms worldwide.




The comb slides and beats down the weft between rows of knots. This comes, moved up and down the warp, pressing the knots in place, securing them before a new row is started.


A hook is a knife-like tool that becomes very narrow on the tip. This tool has two purposes - the weavers use the tip for separating the warp strands while tying a knot and then pulling out the yarn through the warp strands. The side of the hook, which works like a knife, is used for cutting the yarn after each knot is tied.


A rod used for spinning fiber into yarn.



Special scissors cut the long or uneven pile as the carpet is woven.


The knife is used to cut the threads after each knot is tied. This is sometimes done using the hook.


Design plates are used as a reference when creating the rug, showing the weaver what colors to use. Typically on grid paper, design plates are often drawn up by master weavers, famous designers, or artists. These are used to create some village rugs and all workshop rugs.


The loom is the frame that holds the rug together while weaving. Horizontal looms are the simplest type of loom. Nomads use them mainly because they can easily be dismantled during migration. Rugs woven on horizontal looms are generally small because they need to be finished in time for migration, and it is also challenging to weave large rugs on this kind of loom. Horizontal looms are constructed with four wooden bars similar to a frame. The distance between the two parallel sidebars depends on the width of the rug to be woven on the loom, and the distance between the top and the bottom bars determines the length of the carpet. The bars are secured to the ground by stakes or nails. After constructing the loom, the warp strands are attached to the top and bottom bars. The warp strands are usually very close to the ground. The weavers sit on the woven part to reach the unwoven top parts as the rug is woven, and rows of knots and wefts are added.


Vertical is specific to village and workshop rugs, and their assembly is more complicated than horizontal looms. A vertical loom consists of four bars, two sidebars from the ground up, and two horizontal bars--one at the bottom, close to the ground, and one at the top. This loom looks like a frame that is standing up. The warp strands are secured to the top and bottom bars. Rugs woven on vertical looms are more exact in dimensions and design. There are three types of vertical looms, although different versions of each style may exist: the Fixed Loom, the Tabriz or the Bunyan Loom, and the Roller Beam Loom.


On the Fixed Loom, the weaver sits on an adjustable seat in front of the loom. The center is raised as the rows of knots are added.


On the Tabriz or the Bunyan Loom, the warp strands are wrapped around and behind the top and bottom bars instead of being secured to them. On this loom, as the work progresses, the woven section of the rug is pulled down and behind the loom. This way, the weavers do not have to move. These looms are used in Iran in the Azerbaijan province, the cities of Arak, Qum, and Hamadan, and the commercial centers of Turkey.


On the Roller Beam Loom, the woven part of the rug is rolled around the lower beam. With this kind of loom, huge size rugs can be woven. This loom is the traditional loom used in villages of Turkey; it is also used in Iran and India. This loom is generally used for coarser weaves.



It is the main backbone of a carpet, consisting of yarn strands stretching from top to bottom (height-wise, vertically). These strands are stretched on the loom before weaving begins. Once the rug is completed and cut from the loom, the ends of the warp make up the fringe. The warp is typically made of wool, cotton, or silk.


It is the collection of knots of yarn twisted between the warp strands. The knots are weaved in the Turkish (Traditional, Ghiordes, Symmetrical) knot or the Persian (Commercial, Senneh, Asymmetrical) knot. The Turkish knot is a double knot formed by looping the pile yarn across two warp strands and then drawing each end back through the inside of both warps. The Persian knot is a single knot formed by looping the pile yarn through two warp strands and then drawing it back through one. The Turkish knot is more difficult to tie and more durable than the Persian knot.


These are yarn strands inserted perpendicular (width-wise, horizontally) to the warp strands and woven in and out of the warp strands during weaving. It is typically made up of the same material as the warp but is only visible from the back of the rug. The number of weft strands that pass between the rows of knots is called shoots; sometimes, the weft strands are dyed.


Both edges of a woven rug are covered with overcast (a simple running stitch) or selvaged (finished with a woven band) to reinforce the edges, as they are particularly susceptible to wear.

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