Small Carpet Primer
The oldest rug which has ever been found has been created around 500 b. Chr. The fragment can be visited at the Eremitage in St. Petersburg. Around 300 b. Chr. Alexander the Great brought oriental carpets from his campaigns to the occident. In the paintings of the artist Hans Holbein we can see fine rugs lying on the table what was considered to be a sign for wealth at that time.
When a big oriental carpet was shown at the world exhibition in Vienna in 1873, the interest was tremendous. Soon it was important in Europe to possess a real Persian carpet. From 1970 onwards copies of the traditional patterns have been created in third countries like India and Pakistan, later also in China. But the imitations are not valuable.
As a mild climate prevails in Persia, the rugs are rather thin and delicate there. An old saying tells us: the richer the Persian the thinner the carpet.
The trend obviously goes to favouring light and fine rugs and for enthusiasts of old carpets to “American re-imports”.
Most rugs are named in accordance with their origin. So a carpet with the name Teheran comes from the city of Teheran and an Isfahan rug from the city of the same name. Nomad pieces are usually named after the tribes. A Bachtiary is a carpet of the nomad Bachtiars. For Sarough the area stands for the carpet name.
Fineness is not the only decisive factor. The knots per square meter are counted. A good carpet should have more than 250.000 knots per square meter..
The fineness should be seen in context with the province. So an Isfahan rug will always be more exquisite than a Keshan one. The carpets can always only be compared within the same province. The density and precision of knotting is important for manufactured carpets, for nomad pieces the originality counts.
The fineness of a piece must always be seen in consideration of the country of origin. Fine imitation knottings from third countries are always less valuable than original pieces.
Valuable Tabriz rugs from famous manufacturers always contain more than 1 million knots per square meter, often even far more.
For fine Tabriz rugs the knotting is decisive for the price. Usually they are knotted with “cork” wool and with lots of silk.
Of course the quality of the wool is also an important prerequisite for a good high quality carpet. The age of the animal is decisive for the quality of the wool. Young sheep have the most resistant wool. Big differences in the quality of the wool amount from the race of sheep, the vegetation and the climate.
The fat shining wool of the highland sheep is exceptionally robust. Also the age of the animal is decisive for the quality of the wool. The wool gets sufficient robustness after the first years of life of the sheep.
The warp of the carpet is usually made of cotton, for fine Tabriz rugs often made of silk. Silk has a very high tear resistance.
A good Persian carpet often has a durability of several generations and is, therefore, a profitable and lasting investment.
The age of a carpet is seen in connection with the quality and the state of maintenance. A carpet is new if it has been knotted within the last 20 years. You talk about an old carpet if it is up to 50 years old, semi-old if it is more than 50 years and antique if it is more than 100 years old.