Oriental and tribal rugs are in big trend at the moment: you see them everywhere from minimalistic Scandinavian interiors to sumptuous Bohemian spaces.
While new rug is just a beautiful accessory for your home, an antique oriental rug can become a wonderful investment as with time it will become even more expensive. However, picking an authentic handmade rug can be quite tricky for a non-expert, that’s why in this post I’m going to share with you several practical tips, which will help you not to make common mistakes with your purchase.
1. Condition of the warp
This is one of the most essential elements you should pay attention to while picking an antique rug. If it is in good state it will last for a long time and is considered more precious in terms of its value.
To understand better how the rug is made have a look at this picture below. Strands of wool or silk are looped around two adjacent warps. To make the rug stronger after each row of knots horizontal threads (wefts) are woven across the width of the rug.
If the rug was put in an appropriate environment (too wet or too dry) the warp starts to destroy. If the rug was kept in a very wet room (balcony, shed, terrace, etc) it looses its elasticity and starts to rot.
It is important to know that damages of the warp might not be visible from the front side and you can only notice them if you have a look at the reverse side. They might look as little holes or fractures and you will see the loose ends of the weft.
Commonly the moisture will damage the rugs with cotton warp, while wool rugs suffer more from an excessive dryness and heat.
Another important factor of a rug’s condition is the state of its weft. Usually the damages of a weft are less dangerous for a rug than of a warp, however you need to consider the amount of restoration works required – perhaps it might exceed the value of a rug. The damages of the weft usually look like vertical fractures:
The knots not strengthened by the weft will be destroyed very quickly. The easiest way to check if the warp or weft is damaged or not is to fold the suspicious spot of the rug – if you here the crunchy sound, it means that probably the rug has some issues.
3. Mold and moth
Another very common damage of antique rugs are spots from the mold, which are difficult to get rid of and sometimes make pointless any restoration works on it.
Apart from mold, the biggest enemy of rugs is the moth. Apparently it can eat the rug not only when it’s folded, but also when it is hung on a wall or even laid on the floor. It starts to damage the rug from the back side so very often you will not even notice it in the beginning. Moth damages only the woolen part of the rug, so if it has the cotton warp, it won’t be touched. The repairing of such a rug will cost a lot of money, so if you notice it while picking a rug, consider the value of the rug versus the cost of its renovation.
4. Dye bleeding
Another thing to pay attention to is dye bleeding. If you notice it that means the rug was coloured with synthetic dyes and if the seller claims that only natural colourants were used, it is the reason to doubt his words as natural dyes never fade on the sun and never molt.
To get rid of dye streaks you need to use very strong chemicals, which will eventually damage the rug.
5. Unprofessional restoration
Unprofessional renovation can cause more harm than all things mentioned above. Sometimes some restorers would just cut the damaged parts. However, by doing so they often cut the most valuable parts of it. If you notice asymmetry in the pattern or uneven edge of a rug it often means that it was cut around and then rewoven.
Another common mistake of unprofessional renovators is painting the scuffed areas with markers: often you will not even notice it, but during the first cleaning they will start to bleed and it would be almost impossible to remove those stains.
I hope that these practical tips will help you to pick an authentic oriental rug you will truely enjoy and love.