How Long Does it Take to Knot a Persian Carpet?
To clarify the distinction between Persians & Orientals, “Orientals” strictly speaking refers to ALL those that were and are skillfully and lovingly crafted by hand, close to and including Persia or in that general region of the East which includes India, Afghanistan, Turkey, Central Asia — and even Egypt, the Balkans, Nepal and others - because all these countries or regions were to a greater or lesser extent influenced by Persian culture, art and techniques of making carpets. However, the term Persian is often loosely used for any of these “Orientals”. The Persians are simply the most renowned, and for good reason! They have the most illustrious and longest known history. But, all these regions have in the past and still today produce examples that range from mediocre to good to outstanding! As is true for any art or craft form.
Oriental carpets are knotted by hand on looms and they are differing from machine-made ones in quality and durability. Loosely speaking, there are two different types of oriental carpets: vertically knotted and horizontally woven ones. First ones are carefully and finely knotted. Thereby warp threads are worked in lengthwise and the weft threads across. The knotter then knots around warp and weft so that the desired patterns arise. In contrast to that, kilims are flat woven on horizontal looms. These carpets, made by nomads, are usually coarser and flatter, and they look the same from both of their sides, so that each side can be used. If a carpet is finished, it is sheared into uniform length. In addition to that, it will be cleaned, before bringing it into the market.
Why does the term Oriental carpet conjure up, for most people, such luxury, beauty, exclusivity? The reason is quite simple: whether it is painting, sculpture, architecture, or other forms of visual art, there is something about the design, colour, texture & the form, that touches or moves us emotionally. That causes awe & admiration. And so with Persians & Orientals — plus the added magic of the East!
And when you see these carpets in different styles of interiors - whether traditional, art- nouveau, eclectic, or ultra-modern - a beautiful Persian or Oriental carpet in the right style for you, and the right setting, creates with its textures, colours and designs a feeling of luxury, of beauty, of originality which is hard to describe. Which is only one of its advantages, the others being fact that the better examples can improve with use like fine antiques; and have been stores of potentially growing wealth; are precious heir looms.
When you think of or see examples of such carpets all over in the world’s finest settings - Buckingham Palace, the White House, the Kremlin; in a mansion in London or New York, a penthouse in Hong Kong, in some of the world’s leading hotels. The point: they are universally acknowledged as the ultimate in decorative floor coverings, in the same way that fine paintings are the ultimate in wall coverings.
The same basic methods & techniques (knotting or weaving on looms by hand), the same basic materials (chiefly wool, cotton and silk), even the same basic design themes and colours tend to be used, not only in Persia but in the other mentioned countries of the East - which is why we call them Orientals.
The best way to think of these carpets, as a good analogy, are paintings. There isn’t any one style of painting; there have been, are, and will be different styles of paintings. For example, those great Renaissance paintings that are very elaborate, intricate, or grandiose; then those of the Impressionist era; the abstract schools; the “Moderns” & on and on. The same thing applies to music: jazz, pop, classical, whatever. The point: beautiful music, beautiful paintings, regardless of style are considered beautiful to the people who love them because they are touched by them emotionally. The same applies to the art & craft of hand-made Persians & Orientals.
This also means that there are different tastes for different periods. But that there is no one “right” or “wrong” taste. Beauty is beauty. Like music, something that really touches and appeals to you is going to be right for you. So that is important to remember in choosing your carpet or rug.
Broadly speaking, there are four main categories of Persian and Oriental carpets, best explained by the environments where they are crafted.
They, and the next category tend to be the most affordable. However, they can be amongst the most beautiful and prized by rug lovers! And the best examples can be very valuable collector’s items!
Hand woven or knotted carpets have been adorning tents and homes of one kind or another for over 2500 years in the East, and giving countless generation of Man protection from harsh floors, beauty and joy in lifestyles and the pride of possession. And, again, they are of the oldest craft & art forms on Earth. They can justly be considered the ultimate in floor coverings.