How to Determine the Authenticity of an Oriental Rug

A Persian rug is not only a home decoration, it is a functional work of art. Although many modern Persian rugs are made by machine, you can still find high quality hand-made rugs today. Before shopping for a Persian rug, you need to understand what it is and what it is not.

First, there is often considerable confusion between Oriental rugs and Persian rugs. Oriental Rugs are handmade rugs that come from a wide geographic region that extends from Turkey in the west to China in the east. It encompasses the Persian region. So while Persian rugs are also Oriental Rugs, not all Oriental rugs are Persian rugs.

The Persian rug is an essential part of Persian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to the Bronze Age.

A well crafted Persian rug can last centuries. The earliest surviving Persian rugs come from the 16th century, attesting to their durability. However, painted depictions prove a longer history of production. There is much variety among classical Persian carpets of the 16th and 17th century. Common motifs include scrolling vine networks, arabeques, cloud bands, medallions, and overlapping geometric compartments rather than animals and humans.

Persian rugs are identified by the region in which they are produced. Some of the more widely known types of Persian rugs include Tabriz, Kashan, Herat, and Kerman. Each has a distinctive style. For example, rugs from Tabriz have a central medallion and quartered corner medallions superimposed over a field of scrolling vine ornament.

When purchasing a Persian rug, simply remember the acronym MAKIP, which stands for: materials, authentic, knots per square inch, imperfections, and price. Let's consider each of these.

Materials

Inexpensive, so called "Persian rugs" that you find in most discount stores are usually made from synthetic materials (and they are almost certainly not made anywhere near Persia).

When buying a real Persian rug there are really only three choices of materials - wool, cotton, and silk. These fibers are all natural and are more durable than synthetics. Dyed wool is traditionally used to make tribal rugs. Silk is the most expensive and luxurious choice. Some Persian rugs are even woven with gold strands.

Authentic

It may be difficult to know whether the carpet you are choosing is authentic. When purchasing a Persian rug, make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. The best will provide a certificate of authenticity.

Knots per square inch

Knots per square inch (KPSI) is a measure of overall quality. Basically the higher the number of the better the carpet. Look for carpets that have a KPSI of at least 80 - over 100 is better.

Imperfections

Authentic Persian rugs are made by hand. As such all will have slight imperfections. This is normal. In fact if a rug is coming out too perfect the maker will usually introduce a slight imperfection. As long as the imperfection does not detract from the overall appeal of the carpet, don't worry about it.

Price

Most people start here when shopping for a Persian rug. Remember, each is hand made and a quality Persian rug can take almost a year to complete. When thinking about how much to spend consider the factors mentioned above. In addition, the size of the rug will have a huge influence on the price. Fortunately, there are a number of good Web sites that have eliminated the middle man to allow customers to purchase high quality, authentic Persian rugs are steeply discounted prices.

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