A Guide to Traditional Hand Knotted Rugs

Oushak Hand Knotted Rug

Traditional hand knotted rugs are considered to be the ‘cream of the crop” when it comes to rugs and carpets. Known for their exquisite beauty, impeccable durability and fine craftsmanship technique, hand knotted rugs are true masterpieces which deserve a place in every home.

Find out everything you need to know about Traditional hand knotted rugs to help you decide why these stunning heirloom pieces make the perfect addition to your collection.

What are Hand Knotted Rugs?

Hand knotted rugs make use of a traditional hand knotting technique on a specially designed loom. The ancient method of making hand knotted rugs originated in Central Asia, dating back to a thousand years ago. Majority of traditional rugs employ this weaving technique and some popular types of hand knotted rugs are Oriental rugs, Persian rugs and Kashmir rugs.

The creation of hand knotted rugs is a labor intensive process which requires expertise. It involves a unique weaving technique in which thousands of knots are inserted and individually tied to a base or rug foundation. These knots make up the pile of the rug, and the weaving process is typically done from the bottom going up.

The detailed process of traditional hand knotting starts with warp threads and wefts threads. Warp threads pertain to the vertical threads while weft threads are the threads which run horizontally. To create the foundation of the rug, each weft is woven in and out of the warp threads over the loom. The wool or silk strands are then individually hand tied to each warp thread to create a design. Each strand is then precisely cut, carefully knotted and tightened to secure the construction. In a finished rug, the warp become the fringes, while the wefts keep the whole rug together.

There are different kinds of knots which are used to created traditional hand knotted rugs as the techniques vary depending on the region or the origin of the rug. These techniques are handed down from generations, resulting to a meticulously perfected skill. These knots may either be a Turkish knot, an Oriental knot or a Persian knot - the latter being the most well-known hand knotting technique. The Persian knot or Senneh knot is a type of asymmetrical knot which used for creating carpets with highly intricate design details.

Hand knotted rugs are also sometimes called “flat weaves” because of their flat and pile less texture. Their design is essentially reversible, as the front and back look exactly the same. Hand knotted rugs also have no piles because once the full design is knotted onto the foundation, it is shaved down.

Hand Knotted Afghani Rug

This stunning traditional rug is carefully hand knotted in Afghanistan using only the finest quality of wool and natural dyes. This one of a kind piece showcases traditional nomadic Afghani pattern in a combination of bright and vibrant hues of reds, blues, oranges, yellows and green. Guaranteed to last for years, this traditional Afghani hand knotted rug will surely bring warmth, color and personality to any part of your home.

Hand knotted rugs are typically made up natural materials such as wool, silk, cotton, bamboo, jute or a blend of different fibers. The use of high quality materials together with a complex hand weaving technique give hand knotted rugs its remarkable strength and durability. Wool is the most popular material used for traditional hand knotted rugs because it is highly durable and can withstand up to 10,000 bends before they break. New Zealand wool is often mixed with local wool to reinforce the strength of traditional hand knotted rug, while giving them a more supple feel and texture. Silk is also used for traditional hand knotted rugs but due to its high price and less durable nature, it is often employed as an accent or to give a lustrous effect to the details of the design. Cotton is another common material for traditional hand knotted rugs, but instead of being use for the pile, it is typically used as a foundation material. Wool, cotton and silk may be combined together to create a perfectly strong carpet that can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use and can resist the strain of high traffic areas.

In general, it takes months or even years to produce a single piece of hand knotted rug, depending on its size and the complexity of its design and pattern. An experienced weaver can tie each knot at an average of 2 seconds. Approximately, they can create at least a thousand knots per hour or an average of 8,000 knots per day. And since each knot is individually made by hand, a single 12 feet by 15 feet hand knotted rug can take more than a year to complete. The construction process can take anywhere from a month to 8 years, on the average. You can imagine how long it will take to finish a piece of hand knotted rugs especially if they are bigger in size and more detailed in design.

Hand knotted rugs are also generally more expensive than hand tufted and machine made rugs. Because of the amount of time and labor which goes into its production, as well as the complex process that it involves, they are given a higher price point. Because the entire hand knotting process is precise, the overall result is a rug with finer details and better texture. And since it undergoes careful construction, the lifespan of hand knotted rugs is generally longer compared to other types of rugs. In addition, the amount of care that goes into traditional hand knotted rugs preserves the rug’s quality, thus increasing their value.

Hand Knotted Pakistani Rug

An important indicator of a rug’s good quality is the backing of the rug. This traditional hand knotted Pakistani rug shows a symmetrical design at the back of its rug, which directly reflects the pattern shown in front. Its backing also shows the tight hand knotting technique used to produce intricate details such as floral and leaf motifs. With hand knotted rugs, the design is through and through and guaranteed to bring in an accent into a room.

How to know if your rug is an authentic hand knotted rug?

Check the back of the rug.  Traditional hand knotted rugs do not have any type of backing. Compared to machine made rugs which typically make use of a latex coating to hold the tufts in place and a canvas material or fabric which is added as a covering on top of the latex coating. If the rug has a backing material, then it isn’t an authentic traditional hand knotted rug.

Check the symmetry of the design. To determine if a rug is a genuine hand knotted rug, simply turn it upside down and close examine the pile at the back of the rug. A true hand knotted rug is characterized by a distinct back and front in which the front is plush, while the back reflects the same pattern and design seen in front. The design at the back of the rug must be symmetrical to the one in front. The more detailed the design is at the back of the rug, the better its quality.

Check the knots of the rug.  Hand knotted rugs also show slightly uneven knots as it is made by hand, while for machine made rugs, the look is more perfectly uniform and even. The knots of a traditional hand knotted rug are extremely tight and are visibly tied together closely, but for machine made rugs, the knots are just makeshift knots, wherein the fibers are just made to appear that way, but in reality they are just attached to the rug’s foundation material using high pressure and heat.

Check the fringes of the rug. The rug’s fringes are also good indicators of the technique used in creating the rug. Machine made rugs often have fringes which are sewn at the back of the rug and added as a finishing touch, but for authentic hand knotted rugs, the fringes are an extension of the rug foundation and appears to be integrated into the whole design, rather than some decorative embellishment. Also, for traditional hand knotted rugs, each knot tied to a warp thread, thus the fringes are formed naturally.

Check the quality of the rug. The quality of a rug depends on a number of factors such as the number of knots, the quality of material or yarn and the type of dye used in the production process. A significant determinant of quality for rugs is the knot density. The knot density pertains to the number of knots per square inch in a rug and it can go anywhere from 40 knot per square inch up to 2000 knots per square inch. A low quality rug will have around 160 knots per square inch, while standard quality rugs will have at least 400 knots per square inch. High quality rugs, on the other hand, have 1000 knots per square inch but are more rare and expensive. Counting the knots on a hand knotted rug can be quite taxing, but you can always ask your supplier for this information if you want to know more about the knot density of your rug.

Vintage Hand Knotted Rug

Set against a cool, calming background of blue are traditional tribal and geometric motifs which make this vintage hand knotted rug a one of a kind piece of art. This traditional hand knotted rug can be used to add a splash of color to contemporary interiors or to update a traditional living or dining room.

Reasons to add Traditional Hand Knotted Rugs to your collection

Valuable investment for the home. Although considered to be the most expensive type of rug, traditional hand knotted rugs are proven to be wise investments because of their stunning beauty and their long lifespan. 

Considered to be valuable heirloom pieces. Traditional hand knotted rugs are considered to be prized collectibles which can be passed down from one generation to another. Provided that it is properly cared for and maintained, traditional hand knotted rugs are proven to stand the test of time and can last for decades and even for a lifetime.

Timeless.A traditional hand knotted rug is a classic, timeless interior decor which is proven to last for years, without going out of style. A traditional hand knotted rug can easily adapt itself, no matter what the prevailing style of your home may be, whether traditional, contemporary or modern.

Stunning beauty. The amount of time, effort, care and fine craftsmanship which goes into each piece of traditional hand knotted rug gives it a distinct, remarkable aesthetic. Hand knotted rugs can instantly transform the overall look a space and can either serve as a complementing interior decor or an eye catching focal point for your home.

Each piece is unique. It can be assured that each hand knotted rug is completely unique.  Compared to mass produced rugs which often comes in similar patterns, traditional hand knotted rugs show reflections of the weaver’s own artistic design. Hand knotted rugs are worthy to be called as masterpieces and stunning works of art because of the fastidious effort and thought that is punt into their design, detail and construction.

High durability. The fibers of a hand knotted rug are tightly tied in place and woven to each other and this careful construction technique preserves their quality. They do not get pulled out easily from the rug’s foundation as compared to machine made rugs which are prone from being ripped over time. In addition to the fine knotting technique, the use of natural materials also give traditional hand knotted rugs high durability.

To get only the best quality of authentic hand knotted rugs, work only with a trusted rug supplier like The Rug Warehouse. Please visit the Rug Warehouse website to know more about our vast rug collections or drop by our  Los Angeles showroom to view our outstanding collection of hand-knotted rugs. Our expert professionals are more than happy to assist you in choosing an exceptional hand knotted rug for your home.