Art Advisors and Appraisers


Art & Finance

How to Distinguish Between Machine and Handmade Oriental Carpets

Oriental Carpet Construction

Oriental Carpet Construction

When seeking to determine the value of your oriental rug, you must determine whether or not it is handmade. While such a task may seem daunting, it is actually quite simple. 

Oriental carpets are constructed on large looms. The artisan producing the textile, first strings the foundation of the carpet, starting with the warp. After having produced the kelim, the pile-less plain weave at the base, the artisan begins knotting to form the pile. Working from a predetermined pattern, the artisan knots the pile yarn onto the weft. After each row of knots is completed, the artisan weaves in the next weft and compacts the previous row to create tight and visually impressive design. The artisan works weft by weft, until the entire carpet is completed. Then, the artisan removes the carpet from the loom and transforms the remaining warp into a fringed border.

Due to the nature of oriental rug construction, a handmade rug can be determined by several key factors. Firstly, the warp will not be visible on a handmade rug. The only portion of the foundation which will be visible in the body of a carpet is the weft which divides each row of knots. Secondly, the fringe should visibly extend from the body of the carpet. Thirdly, the serging should be hand produced and display slight irregularities which are characteristic of handmade production. Fourthly, (and most obviously) look for a label! 


Carpet Glossary

  • Warps: Warps (A) are the foundation yarns of a rug that are strung from the top to the bottom of the loom. In oriental rugs, the knots are tied on the warp yarns which also form the fringes at the ends of the finished rug. 
  • Wefts: Wefts (B) are the foundation yarns of a rug that are woven across the width of the loom. These yarns are passed through alternate warp yarns between each row of knots. Warps and wefts form the grid on which the rug is woven. 
  • Knots: Knots (C) are the pile yarns which are wrapped around the warp and are dyed yielding the pattern in the rug 
  • Serging/Overcasting: Serging (or overcasting) (D) is the wrapping of the terminal (outside) warps that form the finished sides of the rug; can be performed by hand or machine. 
  • Fringe: Fringe is the warp yarn which extends beyond the terminal warp
  • Kelim: The pile-less, plain weave is many times found at one or both ends of oriental rugs. 
  • Terminal Warps: Terminal warps (E) are the last few warps on either side.