Many Westerners believe that "Oriental" rugs are synonymous with Persian rugs, which is not entirely true. Persian rug culture has certainly inspired what we today call Oriental, but the two are not necessarily the same.
Persia, or what's today Iran, is by far the world's foremost rug-making culture. Both the art of rug-tying and dyeing are inherited through generation after generation. While oil constitutes Iran's largest export earnings, rugs are what actually employs the most people which includes everything from sheep farming, cutting, spinning, dyeing, knotting, washing and repairs.
When visiting Iran, you soon notice that there are plenty of rug vendors around cities as well as weavers and places to get a rug cleaned. In villages it's not uncommon to see "looms" outside houses with women knotting while at the same time taking care of household chores.
Different kinds of Persian rugs
There are lots of various types of Persian rugs and they all have a very distinct look and feel. Rugs are named after the city or village they were made. A Mashad rug is tied in Mashad while a Moud rug is tied in Moud, Mashad and Moud both being Persian cities.
There are more than twenty different Persian provinces that produce rugs, all with their distinct styles and level of quality. Most Persian rugs however are overall considered the most beautiful and durable in the world.
Each Persian rug is unique
As each rug is knotted by hand makes no two Persian rugs are the same. There are mainly two different types of knots. In the Persian-speaking part there's the "Senneh" knot and in the Turkish-speaking part you find the "Ghirodes" knot. (There's also the lesser known Persian knot that makes rugs very dense and durable). The wool used for the best Persian rugs is glossy and oily which makes the rugs extra durable, while rugs made with dry wool is worn much faster.
Persian Rug as an investment
Persian rugs are known all over the world for their quality and the fine workmanship. Although the price for a Persian rug can be relatively high, it can prove itself to be a great investments. You find authentic Persian rugs at a good price if you have some patience and look around at auctions and dealers. The best price is found online, where you'll also find the largest selection. If taken care of properly, a rug keeps its value and last longer than a lifetime.
How to select the right Persian rug
Persian rugs are in great demand all over the world and it's good to get some tips and advice before choosing one to buy. A lot of less serious dealers try to sell fake antique rugs and claim to be genuine. Therefore, it is good to know what to consider before buying a rug.
Firstly, authentic Persian rugs always come from Iran. If you find "Persian rugs" made in India, Pakistan, Turkey or China you should be careful as these rugs are most probably an imitation of the real thing.
Secondly, authentic Persian rugs are always handmade, which includes spinning the wool, dyeing, and washing. In newer carpets and imitations, machines are often used for these very delicate steps of the rug making process. In a genuine Persian rug, all this is done by hand.
How to tell if a rug is authentic
Genuine Persian rugs are made of wool or possibly silk. Animal hair or cotton is never used. The wool is colored with natural dyes from vegetables or plants, in inauthentic rugs, synthetic colors is often used as well as cotton which is cheaper and easier to process.
The more knots a rug has, the better the quality. Knots are calculated per square meter or "knots per square inch". Fewer than 150 knots per square inch is average or even poor quality. Between 150 and 250 knots per square inch is of good quality, while more than 250 knots per square inch often means very high or superior quality.
Types of Persian rugs
When buying a Persian rug, keep in mind that there are three types of rugs: nomad rugs, village rugs and city rugs / studio rugs. The latter usually hold the highest quality.
Certificate of authenticity
When buying a Persian rug, ask for a certificate of authenticity as it gives you a guarantee that what you have purchased is genuine. buying a rug as an investment makes a certificate even more important. A rug with a certificate is simply worth much more than a rug without it.
Do some research
As with all other types of investment, it's always a good idea to be equipped with some knowledge before buying. Read up on Persian rugs online and talk to several rug-dealers and experts before making a decision.
Don't hesitate to compare prices of similar rugs at a few different stores or outlets. The best prices will be found online where you can find some real bargains. Buyers beware however, remember to check if the store carry extra charges for shipping or customs before buying.