A brief introduction to the making of hand knotted Persian carpets from the fine city pieces to the tribal and village carpets.
Hand knotted carpets and rugs
The crafts men and women that make the hand knotted oriental rugs and carpets are using skills that have been handed down generation after generation. These skills determine the fine quality of a finished oriental rug. Here we will briefly explore some of the techniques used to produce the different carpets.
Where are Persian carpets made?
The term ‘Persian’ carpets applies to all hand knotted carpets produced in Iran. The majority of oriental carpets, among them the finest of their kind, come From Iran.
How are Persian carpets made?
Persian and all other oriental carpets – apart from kelims – consist of three elements, the warp, pile and weft.
The warp refers to the threads that run the length of the carpet. During manufacture these threads are stretched parallel between the two horizontal beams of the loom. Usually cotton is used for the warp, although nomadic oriental carpet makers often use wool. In some silk and wool and pure silk carpets and rugs, the warp is also made from silk thread.
The visible surface of an oriental rug is the pile. This consists of tufts of yarn hand knotted into the warp threads. These rows always run across the width of the carpet. The pile is usually either wool or silk, or occasionally the two materials may be used together.
As each row of knots has been added to the carpet a thread, known as the weft, is forced into place to hold the rows parallel and to give the carpet a firm structure. The weft can be made of cotton, wool or silk, depending on the type of oriental carpet. Normally, two weft threads are woven alternately between each row of knots.
Knotting techniques for oriental carpets date back thousands of years. There are two distinct types of knot: the Turkish or Ghiordes knot, and the Persian or Senneh knot. The expressions Turkish or Persian indicate the areas in which the type of knot is most widely used. The Turkish knot predominates in Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, while the Persian Knot is found mainly in Iran. The Ghiordes knot is employed largely for geometric designs and the Senneh knot for floral patterns.
The Chief characteristic of Persian carpets is the range of magnificent colours. Before the invention of man-made aniline dyes (the first of which were developed in the mid 19th century) dyers used only natural dyes,mostly derived from plants. Over the centuries, Persian dyers became famous for the sheer, inexhaustible range of vegetable and animal dyes they managed to create. For example, red from cochineal insects and ox blood. Still today, many carpets weavers from all regions are using vegetable dyes.