(773) 880-0031

“My husband and I have purchased three beautiful rugs from here, we love the quality and the prices are extremely reasonable. They take the time out to explain the different types of rugs, patterns, etc.......we really love this store"


Lisa G., Chicago, IL

Rug Guide

Cleaning

Care
The best padding for a large Oriental rug is hair or fiber-filled, with rubberized surfaces. Small accent rugs are often placed over wall-to-wall carpeting and require no pad. Felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will help protect the surface.

When vacuuming an Oriental rug, do it slowly. Move the vacuum outward over the fringe, then lift it back onto the rug - not back and forth. This would tangle and yank the fringe. A vacuum with beater-bars works well, but do not hand-beat it. Before vacuums were invented, hand-beating ruined many rugs that should have lived to become priceless antiques. It is also important to rotate your rug 180 degrees periodically to insure that it wears evenly all over.

Cleaning & Storing Tips
Clean up spills promptly. Cope with stains immediately. Use mild detergent and white vinegar for the following:

- Acids or alcoholic beverages
- Excrement
- Mud
- Sauces
- Regurgitated food

Glycerine should be used on coffee stains, and for heavy grease use cleaning fluid or scrape and vacuum. If recommended procedures are not effective, call a reputable rug cleaner.

Although dirt does not penetrate a dense Oriental rug as it does machine-made carpets, all will eventually need cleaning. When you purchase a rug from Rita Rugs, we ask that you let us know when it needs cleaning and we will make arrangements for you. The same applies if ever your rug becomes damaged and needs repair. Proper care can be given only by experts using the right methods.

If you should ever have to store your Oriental rug for a period of time, first have it cleaned, and treated with a good moth repellent, then roll it into a cylinder (don't fold!) and store it in a dry place.

SERVICES
- Rug cleaning
- Rug pads
- Rug restoration

Call (773) 880 – 0031

Rug 101

  • The Mystique
    • Oriental rugs have enchanted and fascinated owners and viewers throughout the world for centuries. Their painstaking craftmanship , enchanting patterns and magical beauty captivate everyone. They are dreams made incarnate...twisting labyrinths of flowers, mystical animals and ancient symbols.
      The traditional patterns have been handed down through countless generations, yet they are infused with individuality when a weaver sits down at the loom and creates his own interpretation of the dictates of history.
      They are the embodiment of beauty and when we open ourselves to their message and take delight in their exotic designs, we enrich our lives immeasurably.
  • Handmade rugs
    • A large part of the mystique and value of Oriental rugs is the continuing tradition of their creation. It is still a process which must be done by hand and that allows for individuals interpretations of the artisan doing the weaving. No machine-made rug can duplicate the quality and craftmanship of a genuine Oriental rug.
      A loom is used and a vertical foundation of threads (called warps) is stretched from one end of the loom to the other. These foundation threads are usually cotton, which adheres to the wool to create a sturdy rug. However, some rugs have wool warps, and others are made with silk. The latter are often entirely composed of silk and are extremely fine and valuable.
      Usually the weaver makes several rows of flat weaving before beginning knotting, which gives stability to the rug. The weaver then begins making the pattern, tying a knot with the appropriate colored wool and cutting it off roughly. A knot is tied around the warp threads all the way across the rug, then a horizontal(weft) thread is woven across the top of the knots and pounded down with a comb. Then another row is begun. When a flat weave rug is woven, the weft thread creates the pattern.
      Nomadic rugs are usually woven by women who have memorized certain traditional patterns. They create these patterns as they work and usually vary the pattern slightly as the rug is woven. In villages and commercial workshops, a more detailed drawing of a design(called a cartoon) is set down on graph paper before weaving begins. Each square in this drawing represents a single knot.
      A skilled weaver can tie from 10,000 to 14,000 knots in a day. This is a tremendous amount of work, and on a rug which has about 160 knots per square inch measuring six feet by nine feet, only one inch across the entire width will be completed in one day. To complete the rug it will take the weaver approximately five months.
      As rows of knots are completed, they are cut off evenly. A final shearing takes place after the rug is removed from the loom. This is usually done in workshops by specially trained artisans, as a single mistake can ruin months of labor. With some rugs, particularly Chinese, the design is then sculpted to enhance the definition of the pattern. The final step is washing the rug, which cleans and adds luster to the wool. The washing and drying is a careful process.
  • Types of knots
    • The two most common types of knots are the Turkish (or Ghiordes) and the Persian (or Senneh) knot. The Turkish knot is primarily used in Turkey, Western Iran and the Caucasus, while the Persian knot is used further east, in India, Pakistan, central and western Iran, and China. While there is no difference in the appearance or durability of the two types, it is often possible to detect which was used by examining the back of the rug.
      The first rugs made were probably flat-weave rugs, and many are still being produced today. Flat woven carpets are sturdy, versatile and have the added benefit of being more affordable than their counterparts. Many of the contemporary flat-weave rugs found in the United States today are from India and Romania. These rugs, called dhurries, haved gained a large measure of popularity for their cheerful designs and the interest they bring to rooms. They're available in a wide variety of colors and sizes and the simple geometric designs and fanciful animal and floral motifs compliment many American homes.
  • Oriental rug patterns
    • Most Oriental rugs are rectangular and have a field and border. One of the most common designs is that of a central medallion either alone or with designs radiating from it. The field may also be composed of small repetitive patterns, depict a scene or be divided into several compartments.
      The border frames the field and may be simple lines or intricate patterns which extend into the field. Certain border designs are quite popular and may include a single or multiple lines or symbols such as the Greek key, a wandering vine, the stylized turtle and the scroll.
      Some of the most popular field designs are the tree of life, hunting scenes and the prayer rugs. Prayer rugs are easy to recognize because the rectangular field contains an arch or similar shape which comes to a point at one end. These designs represent the prayer niches used by Moslems in a mosque. Often images of religious articles associated with Islamic worship, such as lamps, ewers and combs are contained in the pattern.
      Three of the most widely seen classic design elements are the gul, an octagonal geometric shaape; the boteh, which resembles a paisley and has been described as a pear, leaf or pine cone; and the Herati, which consists of a rosette inside a diamond which is flanked by four curled leaves that resemble a stylized fish.
  • Chinese rug symbols
    • Perhaps the symbols on Chinese rugs are most graphic in their relationships to the world around us. Often a message can be read in the symbols on a Chinese rug once their meaning has been fathomed. Some of the most common symbols found on Chinese rugs are:

      Lotus Flower - the Sun
      Dragon - guardian of the holy tree and the sacred pearl
      Serpent - desire
      Lion & dog - victory, power, energy
      Phoenix - elegance, benevolence and the carrier of good things
      Stork - longevity
      Bat - happiness
      Butterfly - in China, the emblem of Cupid
      Fish - domestic and married happiness
      Pearl - the male and female elements in nature
  • The origins
    • Afghanistan
      Rugs from Afghanistan tend to be quite stylized with a limited number of colors. The Afghan guls and the Ersari are similar to the "Bokhara" in pattern and color and are the basis for most Afghanistan rugs. Another popular type is the Belouch, which are primarily made by nomadic tribesmen. The Belouch weavers are particularly fond of prayer rugs in dark colors and primarily utilize geometric patterns.
      Some Afghan-style rugs go through a process called "gold washing" in which the original red color is chemically changed to shades of gold, coral and amber. The effect is quite pleasing and often adds to the value of the carpet. To determine if a rug has undergone this procedure, spread the pile to expose the knots, which will remain unbleached and red.

      China
      Traditional Chinese rugs are immediately recognizable by their simple, classic motifs and unusual colors. These rugs often feature a center, circular medallion; familiar objects seen in nature such as animals, flowers and clouds; stylized Chinese ideographs; and even entire sceness. They are usually framed with a simple, wide border.
      Contemporary Chinese rugs are produced in large workshops and meet strict quality standards, so they are consistent in quality no matter in which area of China they are woven. The rugs are woven with a 5-ply yarn, in contrast with 2-ply yarns used in Iran. Many Chinese rugs are sculpted where contrasting colors meet to provide interest and texture to the simple patterns.
      China also produces rugs with non-indigenous Chinese designs including Persian, French Aubusson and Savonnerie, and Art Deco. These rugs are usually of high quality and extremely durable. In addition, China produces a tufted rug in various designs which is less costly. A hand-held tufting gun is used to insert the pile through a canvas or duck backing and a heavy cloth is guled to the back of the rug after completion. These rugs are handmade, but not handwoven and therefore do not fit the definiton of "Oriental Rugs".

      India
      India, in recent years has become one of the leading centers of Oriental rug production due greatly to its large, primarily rural poplulation. The rug industry has boosted the standard of living for many Indians while allowing them to remain in a rural setting instead of traveling to a city to find industrial employment.
      More rugs are currently imported by the United States from India than from any other country. As most of the rugs produced are destined for export, Indian craftsmen are very conscious of market demands and rugs from India are available in a wide range of colors, sizes and designs.
      Most of the patterns produced in India originated in other countries and practically every popular carpet design is produced. Since the rugs are not representative of the area where they are produced, it's wise not to rely on the name of the rug for its place of origin. India is also a leader in producing the newly-popular dhurrie rug and there is a wide selection of charming flat-weave rugs from which to choose.

      Iran
      For many people, the term "Oriental" rug and "Persian" rug are mistakenly synonymous. The Persian empire was where rug-making reached its zenith during the 16th century and many of the traditional patterns and weaving techniques are still being practiced in Iran. In addition, there are other types of rug-weaving in Iran which range with simple pieces produced by nomadic people to highly sophisticated rugs produced in workshops which have preserved this historical Persian art.
      Iranian rugs are usually named afer th town, district or tribal area where they are produced and include the classic Kerman, Sarouk, Tabriz and Hirez. Eache area has its traditional patterns and typical palette of colors. The design of Iranian rugs reflects the Persian passion for detail and displays an intricate interplay between geometric and floral patterns.
      Because labor and production costs have risen rapidly in Iran and the amount of weaving has declined, rugs from that country are more costly than those of comparable quality from surrounding areas. The political situation has also contributed to making Iranian rugs more difficult to obtain. But despite the many problems besetting the country, "Persian" rugs continue to be much sought after and prized.

      Pakistan
      The surrounding countries have had a tremendous impact on Pakistan, and the result in the rug industry has been a blending of Persian, Caucasian and Turkish designs. When Pakistan was separated from India after World War II, the weaving industry went into a decline. Recent governmnent support has resulted in a thriving industry for the country and Oriental rugs being produced there are increasingly more diverse and higher in quality.
      One of the favorite patterns of Pakistan is the 'elephant foot' or 'gul' design of Bokharas. In addition to the traditional red background, Pakistani Bokharas now are being woven in a wide spectrum of colors and in many different sizes. In recent years, Pakistani weavers have diversified into other designs and today are utilizing many of the traditional Persian floral patterns.

      Romania
      Romania has a 300-year history of producing beautiful, high quality rugs. However, this tradition faltered during World War I. It wasn't until 1950, when the Romanian government established communes and centralized the rug-weaving industry, that Romania began a resurgence in rug production.
      The rugs produced by Romania today meet high standards of quality and include a wide array of Persian and Caucasian designs. The names given to Romanian rugs are from towns, provinces, rivers and mountains, but the names do not reflect where the rug was produced. Instead, they classify the quality of the rugs in terms of knots per meter.
      In recent years Romania has become known for the quality of its carpets and wide variety of sizes in differing patterns that are available. Romanian kilims, with a classic design of regularly-spaced, colorful flowers sometimes interspersed with ears of grain, are among the best quality kilims currently being produced.

      Turkey
      Turkey, once a center of rug weaving, suffered a decline during the past fifty years. The disruption of the first World War affected the industry for many years. It is only in recent years that it has begun to regain its standing in the marketplace. Because of this interruption in production, many of the available rugs from Turkey fall into the "semi-antique" (between 50 and 75 years old) and antique (over 100 years old) categories. These rugs are highly prized for their designs, colors and quality.
      Today the Turkish government is encouraging rug weaving as a cottage industry. The rugs being produced are of high quality and faithfully follow the traditional designs. In response to the
      decorative needs in the United States, the traditional brilliant reds and blues are being softened and modified by Turkish weavers. While the number of exports is still relatively small, the rug weaving tradition is slowly growing and interesting rugs are again being produced in Turkey.

      The former Soviet Union Two areas of the former Soviet Union are traditionally noted for the beautiful rugs they produce: Turkestan in Central Asia and the Caucasus Mountains. While this centuries-old tradition was interrupted when the Communists took control, it is now being encouraged in government factories in both areas and is slowly developing Rugs from the Caucasus typically have bright colors and strong geometric patterns which sometimes feature both animal and human figures. The rugs being made today maintain the traditional patterns and colors and continue to be high in quality.
      Turkestan is notable for its production of the ancient "Bokhara" patterns. These rugs are traditionally a deep shade of red with a repeating pattern of guls(polygons) in dark blue, black or brown with white accents. As in the past, wool is used for the foundation material as well as the pile.

      Other Origins Numerous other countries in Asia produce rugs, but they're often available in limited quantities, patterns and sizes. Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria produce rugs which follow the traditional Persian patterns and are well-constructed. Rugs from Tibet and Nepal usually follow traditional Chinese designs, but the colors tend to be brighter and the rugs smaller. Handwoven rugs are also exported from Spain, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia and Poland, but many are flat-woven rugs and the production is limited.

Rug FAQ

  • 1. What is an Oriental rug?
    • An authentic Oriental rug is a handmade work of art representing an art form dating back to about 3000 B.C. The key word is "handmade". Most are hand-knotted. Some, such as kilims and dhurries, are handwoven.
      These exquisite treasures have been hallmarks of homes of distinction down through the ages. Interior designers often refer to them as "functional works of art for your floor."
      Such a rug will enrich and add character to any type decor...from ultra-modern to Victorian. Most become cherished family heirlooms, to be handed down to your children - and your children's children.
      With proper care, a fine Oriental rug has a life-span of up to 200 years!

  • 2. What about machine-made rugs?
    • It is important to know that no machine-made rug is a genuine Oriental rug. Before shopping, it is wise to do a bit of "research". Unscrupulous dealers have been known to sell machine-made copies as genuine Orientals to the unwary.
      While the information provided here can protect you from such a happening, your local library is a rich source of more detailed information. An excellent book on the subject of Oriental rugs is titled Oriental Rug Primer, by Aram K. Jerrehian, Jr.
      Today in America, machine-made copies must by law, be labeled, "Oriental-design" or "Oriental-style". This is something important to keep in mind when shopping for an Oriental Rug.

  • 3. How do you identify an authentic Oriental rug?
    • When shopping for an Oriental rug look for these earmarks of authenticity:
      • Construction: All genuine Oriental rugs are handwoven or hand-knotted through a strong cotton or linen backing. In hand-knotted rugs, separate the surface pile and look for the knot at the base of the yarn. A magnifying glass can be helpful here.
      • Surface Pile: In a hand-knotted rug the pile is almost always wool and is clipped and sheared to form a dense, smooth, plush surface. Rugs with silk pile are rare and very costly and are usually used as wall hangings due to their delicacy.
      • Fringe: One quick and easy way to tell a genuine Oriental rug from a machine-made copy is to carefully examine the fringe. It should be an integral part of the backing of a hand-knotted rug, an extension of the backing itself. The fringe in a machine-made rug is added on after the rug is manufactured.
      • Selvedges: The selvedges or side edges of an authentic Oriental rug are overcast by hand. Copies are machine-bound or machine-serged.
      • Back design: The design on the back of an Oriental rug is as well defined as it is on the front. The design on the back of machine-made rugs is less distinct. If the rug has a jute-backing which obscures the design, it is machine-made.

  • 4. How do you judge the quality of an Oriental rug?
    • Not all genuine Oriental rugs are of equal quality. In a hand-knotted rug, the knot-count can range from as low as 10 to 500 or more per square inch. The higher the knot-count, the denser the pile and the finer the quality. Notice the fringe. Is it bulky or fine? A general rule of thumb is: The finer the fringe, the finer the rug.
      Unlike most American rugs and carpets, thickness does not necessarily indicate quality in an Oriental rug - density does. For example, some of the finest Indian rugs have pile that is sheared very close. These thin, dense, low-pile rugs have great durability and an amazingly velvety feel.
      Run your hand over the surface pile of a hand-knotted rug. The wool should feel strong, smooth and elastic and the pile should be the same height from end to end. If it feels stiff or brittle, the wool is of an inferior grade. Undulations in the surface are the sign of poor shearing. In handwoven rugs notice the tightness of the weave. The finer the better.
      When you find a rug you like, always have it laid out on the floor before you buy it. Does it lie flat without ridges, puckers or bubbles? It should. The sides should be relatively straight and parallel rather than crooked or uneven. The design should be clear all over - not blurred. Blurred designs often indicate that the dye is not colorfast and has run.

  • 5. What exactly do the different Oriental rug names mean?
    • Tabriz, Sarouk, Bokhara, Kerman...just a few of the magical names you've read in prestigious interior design books and magazines. But what do they mean? Most people aren't sure and with good reason.
      Oriental rug names can indicate many things: The style of weaving (kilims, dhurries), its general design (prayer rug, garden design), its size or use, how it was made, and many more. Today, however, in new Oriental rugs (as opposed to antique Oriental rugs), the name most often indicates the region where the rug's design originated, not necessarily where the rug itself was made. If you are interested in the study of Oriental rug names, your local library is sure to have books on the subject.

  • 6. How should you care and clean your Oriental rug?
    • The best padding for a large Oriental rug is hair or fiber-filled, with rubberized surfaces. Small accent rugs are often placed over wall-to-wall carpeting and require no pad. Felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will help protect the surface.
      When vacuuming an Oriental rug, do it slowly. Move the vacuum outward over the fringe, then lift it back onto the rug - not back and forth. This would tangle and yank the fringe. A vacuum with beater-bars works well, but do not hand-beat it. Before vacuums were invented, hand-beating ruined many rugs that should have lived to become priceless antiques. It is also important to rotate your rug 180 degrees periodically to insure that it wears evenly all over.
      Clean up spills promptly, as you would with any good wool carpet. Cope with stains immediately. Use mild detergent (Ivory) and white vinegar for the following:
      • Acids or alcoholic beverages
      • Excrement
      • Mud
      • Sauces
      • Regurgitated food

      Glycerine should be used on coffee stains, and for heavy grease use cleaning fluid or scrape and vacuum. If recommended procedures are not effective, call a reputable rug cleaner.
      Although dirt does not penetrate a dense Oriental rug as it does machine-made carpets, all will eventually need cleaning. When you purchase a rug from Rita Rugs, we ask that you let us know when it needs cleaning and we will make arrangements for you. The same applies if ever your rug is damaged and needs repair. Proper care can be given only by experts who use the right methods.
      Rita Rugs does not charge to make these arrangements...and the experts we use charge no more than others who specialize in Oriental rugs. In fact, their prices are lower than many. And finally, if you should ever have to store your Oriental rug for a period of time, first have it cleaned, and treated with a good moth repellent, then roll it into a cylinder (don't fold!) and store it in a dry place.