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How Oriental Rugs Are Made  

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Sheep Are Life 

It is believed that there are more breeds of sheep than breeds of any other livestock species. More than 1000 distinct sheep breeds exist. In Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan the primitive "fat-tail" sheep are favored for their tolerance of harsh environments, meat, and wool.  

Early humans learned more value existed in keeping sheep alive that their milk for yogurt, cheese, and fleece for clothing and carpets  

Tribal Carpets 

Rise of the Persian Rug 

By the 15th century Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires set up weaving facilities to produce "court carpets" with highly intricate designs. In most rug production of the time weaving was a part-time family occupation. These wealthy empires set up and financed court workshops with full-time dedicated carpet staff to produce Oriental carpets. All aspects from raw wool to finished carpet were scrutinized and refined to make ever-increasing high knot counts and elaborate rug designs 

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Over time, humans refined the skills necessary to make textiles and rugs. To work wool into fiber, dye fibers with plant materials, and weave carpets. Tribes could weave textiles for domestic use and much more. In a time before banks, textiles were also a way to bank labor by weaving for future trade. 

RUG WEAVING TYPES
Two most common knots used in rug weaving

There are two most common knotting types used in rug weaving today Persian/Senneh (asymmetrical) and Turkish (symmetrical knot) while there are several other knotting types most rugs today use one of these two knots in weaving pile rugs. The color of knot chosen and where it's tied determines the design. 

 All handwoven rugs have a warp and weft from there things can vary quite a bit. The diagram to the right shows a pile rug weaving using Persian or asymmetrical knotting and double wefting. Some rugs use a single weft while others use as many as 6 between rows of knots. Rug weaving progresses horizontally from side to side one knot and weft at a time. 

Image of oriental rug weaving

Another rug weaving technique is Soumak weave. Wool yarn is wrapped around one or more warps. This method is often alternated with pile knotting known as souf weaving. making a rug with high and low areas. Soumack wearing is common throughout the rug weaving world from Morocco to Afghanistan. The red in the rug below is pile while the design elements are done in Soumak flatweave weave  

rug weaving Sirjan, Iran
Soumak weave used in ru making

Kilim weave is made with weft threads only they have no nap or pile such examples are Navajo rugs, Dhurries,  kilim from Turkey and Iran 

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Kilim weave

Jufti knotting is a method of cutting corners with cheaper rugs.  Instead of a knot being tied over two warps its tied over 4 warps.

This technique is common in some vintage Persian/ Iranian rugs from 1950's onward.

Jufti knotting usedin pile rug weaving

Learn how tapestries were made in the time of Louis XIV and are still made today at the Gobelins Manufactory in Paris

Fundamentals of Oriental rug weaving 

Navajo Rug Weaving