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Why Handmade Rugs?

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To the untrained eye of the normal consumer it is difficult to tell the difference between hand-made, hand-knotted, and machine made rugs. If you are able to understand the differences however between these rugs and how they are made, you will have the upper hand on most of your fellow rug buyers and this knowledge will give you a great advantage in making informed decisions about purchases when shopping for Oriental rugs.

Hand-knotted rugs

Hand-knotted rugs are made on a specially designed loom and are knotted by hand. The making of hand-knotted rugs is an ancient art that deserves much respect. Hand-knotted rugs are made on large looms. The size of the loom depends upon the size of the rug and the weaving is done from the bottom to the top of the loom. The skill comes into play when the rug weaver inserts the “knots” into the foundation of the rug so they can be tied by hand. This process makes up the “pile” of the rug. It is a very tedious and time consuming task as you can well imagine.

The length of time necessary to produce a hand-knotted rug depends upon the size and intricacy of the pattern involved for each rug. It is not unheard of for a super fine quality Oriental rug with dimensions of 12’x15’ to take over a year to produce. If that doesn’t help you to appreciate why the cost of these rugs or “works of art” is so high and skyrocketing as each day passes.

The price and value is growing so quickly because all of these ancient artisans are dying off without passing their trade along to the next generation. It’s hard to imagine, but eventually there will be no more Craftspeople to make these rugs and they will become very rare and highly sought after commodities.

Because of this inevitable movement toward a dying art form, you can expect that hand-made Oriental rugs will shadow what happens in the art world when a famous or important artist dies. When no additional works are created then people start to take notice. This of course drives the price through the roof since the supply is now limited and the demand begins to take hold for the pieces of art left behind.

Hand-knotted rugs can be made of cotton, wood, silk, jute and other natural materials. Silk is often used in wool rugs to create highlights or to outline the pattern and greatly enhances the colorful design of the rug. Hand-knotted and hand-woven rugs are now becoming highly sought after collectibles.

The quality of these rugs depends on a number of factors. The knot count, for instance is one very large factor. Also, the dyes used in the making of the rug and the quality of the yarns used to create the rug are all key factors in its value. Hand-knotted rugs are typically more costly than other rugs, but the lifespan of these rugs is greater and therefore usually a better value and investment for the money.


Flat-weave is a category of hand-made rugs. They are hand-woven in a flat weave pattern with no pile at all. There is virtually no height to the rug either. Soumak, Dhurrie, kilim and braided are all types of flat-weave Oriental rugs. With a flat-weave rug you will definitely want to put a rug pad under it. This helps the rug to stay in place for one thing and also provides more cushion to the rug and protection from wear and tear.

Machine Made Rug

Machine made rugs are made by large machines called power looms. A power loom is electrically automated and controlled by computers. Machine made rugs can be made quickly and are manufactured with materials including wool and synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, nylon, polyester, acrylic and art silk.

Machine made rugs are a lower priced alternative for customers to the time and painstakingly made traditional hand knotted rugs. Machine made rugs usually have a lifespan of about 20 years or less with normal use. The life of the rug has much to do with the amount of and quality of the fiber used in the making of the rug.

A high quality machine made rug for example made of wool can last for decades if it is well maintained and taken care of during its life. Machine made rugs are not usually considered to be collectible and they do not really appreciate in value. There are certain brands, such as Karastan, that have an extremely loyal customer base. The Karastan brand is made in the U.S.A. They have been making outstanding, beautiful machine made rugs for many decades. Karastan rugs are high quality and considered to be of superior design.

Hand-crafted or Hand Tufted Rugs

Hand tufted rugs are another type of rug that is considered hand-made or hand-crafted. The rugs are typically made using a modified, hand held drill gun that inserts the pile into the cloth foundation creating a loop pile. If the loop pile is sheared, it becomes a cut pile. The loop pile rug, if not sheared, is referred to as a “Hand-hooked” rug.

Man using handheld drill gun

These rugs have a hand-made look but they cost much less because using the gun speeds up the process dramatically. Depending upon the quality, a good quality 8’x10’ hand-knotted rug make take from 7 to 14 months to produce. As a comparison, the same size rug made in the hand-tufted method might take an entire day to complete. Although Hand-Tufted rugs can be just as beautiful as hand-knotted rugs, they typically are not of value as collectibles or anyone interested in buying Oriental rugs for investment purposes.