I’ve been working with oriental rugs for over 33 years.. retail, wholesale, production, cleaning and restoration. I’m here to add some clarity to the question are oriental rugs worth the money?
A lot of labour goes into making a rug and the process of rug weaving doesn’t start with weaving, it starts with raw materials mostly wool. These materials must be processed sheep sheared, wool washed, carding, spinning and dyeing all before the weaving process takes places.
Afshar woman spinning wool Sirjan, Iran
Spun wool needs color and skilled dyes work over dye vats to dye wools various colors for weavers.
Wool dyeing at Zollanvari rugs Shiraz, Iran
Colour and design are planned by skilled workers these designs and colours are plotted into graphs for weavers to follow. Traditionally this was done by hand as is the picture on the right a skilled rug designer draws design freehand. This is giving way to CAD drawings that are easy to adapt to different sizes and design alterations.
Real oriental rugs are handwoven one knot at a time and can take from months to years to complete depending on how fine the knots are. Below pic are several Qashqai weavers weaving a Gabbeh rug in a traditional manner that rug weaving has been done for more than a millennia. Rugs such as this can be completed in several months depending on how much time a weaver spends every day.
Weavers tying knots in the Zagros mountains, Iran
The rug below at F.Haghighi carpets in Esfahan, Iran is a very fine rug 800 knots to the square inch, this rug will take 5 weavers 5-6 years to complete. The idea that children’s hands are needed to weave such a fine rug is not actually true. All of the weavers working on this rug were well seasoned experienced weavers over 40. It’s not just the physical act of tying knots it’s the ability of the weaver to interpreter the design and ties the knots in the proper place. In many places such as Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan weaving is part of their cultural heritage not just a job.
Weavers at F. Haghighi Esfahan, Iran
The pic below is a just completed rug it’s face down but you see from the upturned corner how fuzzy the face looks and frankly, not very appealing .
Here is a picture of the same rug in final finishing, a great deal of time and and energy has been expended on this rug after weaving to make it more appealing washing, shearing, and hand detail work to the ends and sides.
Frequently asked questions.
Are oriental rugs expensive? Considering the time, materials and labour to make a finished rug, no I think they are reasonably priced. Used oriental rugs are very affordable some below the price of machine made area rugs.
Are oriental rugs worth money? If you are planning to throw away your rugs ever few years no. Good handwoven rugs last a lifetime, I’ve cleaned a lot of rugs in the last 33 years and I lean lots of rugs that are a hundred or more years old. Nothing wears on the floor has the performance like a good handwoven wool rug. Are they worth the money oh, yes.
Why are they called Oriental rugs? It’s from the word Orient a term for everything east of Europe the Orient and oriental rugs came from the orient the name stuck. Oriental rugs vs Persian rugs, Persian rugs are oriental rugs so are rugs made in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and China.
Do oriental rugs hold their value? Some do and others don’t I’m a little pensive with the concept of value and collectability of rugs or worse oriental rugs as an investment. I shy people away from rugs and values yes some rugs will increase in value but some will lose value too kind of like stocks. The real value of oriental rugs is it’s longevity, performance, colour, design, durability on the floor.