What are Oriental rugs?

PUBLISHED: 10:19 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:17 12 May 2016

Frith Indian

Frith Indian


Discover a range of Oriental rugs available at Frith Rugs.

Oriental rugs are many things to many people. To the nomadic tribes and villagers of the Middle East, a rug is not just a floor covering or a wall hanging -but more a way of life. In many cases rugs are used as a form of currency to purchase goods not normally available to them. Rugs made by the nomadic tribes and weavers in the small villages of Iran and Afghanistan depict shapes and designs which are inspired by their lifestyle and environment.

By extreme contrast, large factories employing thousands of weavers in modern day China churn out rug after rug in almost identical form in designs and colours to suit western tastes and fashions.

Somewhere in between we have India and Pakistan with predominantly cottage industry production and generally rugs are woven to order for sale in western countries.

Rugs produced in all these countries are, of course, all Oriental rugs but each one is distinctly identifiable as to country of origin.

Persian rugs

Persian (Iranian) rugs and carpets are the most varied in design from small intricate Tabriz and Qum designs to large ‘open ground’ Kirman or Keshan designs. The various names given to these rugs are actually the villages or areas where the designs or qualities originated from. Even though most are produced with red or dark blue background colours. Persian rugs are the most accommodating when it comes to design and you are sure to find a choice to blend with the existing colour schemes in your home. There are very few schemes that will not be enhanced by the addition of Persian rug.

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Afghan rugs

Afghan rugs and carpets are predominantly red in colour and the very basic designs consist of a number of octagons or ‘elephants footprints’ in dark blue to almost black. Sometimes Afghans are woven in a gold colour using vegetable dyes but more often, the red ones are chemically washed to produce a gold or amber effect. Afghans, whilst being very simple in colour and design, will suit all kinds of décor and can be used most effectively in heavy traffic areas.

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Chinese rugs

Chinese rugs and carpets were once the most widely available Orientals in this country. Modern manufacturing methods mean that this once cottage industry has now been transformed into huge, highly organised, factory operations. The rugs are still hand made, either by traditional hand knotting or the modern method of hand tufting, although the latter is always of a poorer quality and can be easily recognised by its distinctive cloth background. Designs and colours are very Western inspired, with floral Aubusson designs predominating. Traditional Peking dragon and scenic scenes are also widely available but are not as popular in this country. Colours range from the very palest pastels to the strongest of primary colours.

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Indian rugs

Indian rugs and carpets are also widely available and fall into four main categories. Aubusson Design, Indo Persia, modern and Shaggy . Aubusson Indians are the traditional thick piled rugs with deep carving, similar to Chinese. They are available with both off white and coloured backgrounds and no longer continuously shed their thick pile as their counterparts did 20 to 30 years ago.

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Indo Persian is the terminology given to Indian carpets which have been woven in traditional Persian designs and have a shorter pile, similar to Persian rugs. Finer wools are used in the production of these rugs and the end result is very pleasing and offers excellent value for money.

Indian modern rugs tend to be of a lower quality which means they will be more affordable, allowing the customer to change them more regularly to coincide with current trends. They can be made from 100% wool or have a wool/viscose mix with the latter adding a silky shine effect which will give your rug a high luster.

Shaggy Rugs come in numerous different materials including wool, polyester, polypropylene and a mixture of materials such as wool, polyester and cotton. Shaggy rugs are available in range of patterns or single colour, and some have a range of different textures running through them. One constant with any shaggy rug, is that it will look and feel luxurious thanks to the long pile which ensures a cosy and warm mood in any room

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Pakistani rugs

Pakistani rugs and carpets are produced using very fine wools creating extremely intricate designs. The Bokhara (elephant’s footprint) and variants of this design, account for the bulk of production, and these rugs and carpets are available in a wide range of both traditional and modern colourings. Weavers in Pakistan also produce Persian designs and these tend to be, in many cases, even finer than original Persians.

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Choosing the right Oriental rug

So, where do you go to choose your Oriental rug or carpet and what type should you purchase?

The best advice for anyone interested in purchasing an Oriental rug or carpet is only go to reputable shops, stores or specialist warehouses, where you will be offered a large selection of qualities and types. Staff should be knowledgeable and take a keen interest in finding the rug to meet your particular needs rather than just try to sell you something in order to make a sale.

Your choice of an Oriental rug or carpet will depend on many factors such as existing or planned colour scheme, type of room or home – traditional, contemporary or a mixture of both. Many people go to choose a rug with a very fixed idea in mind but, perhaps, that rug is not available- nor even made!

Always have an open mind and take along with you a piece of your fitted carpet, a cushion, a tie back or curtain or even a piece of wallpaper. A rough plan of the area including measurements, is almost as essential to ensure that you make the right decision. Once purchased, your Oriental rug will give you enjoyment for the rest of your life


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