If you found this article, you’re probably looking at furnishing your home in a style that represents you perfectly. We understand! It can be difficult to look for something both beautiful and high-quality, especially with the rise of mass-produced carpets on the market. It’s a constant toss-up between price, quality and age – but we’re here to make a search a little easier.
Carpet making is one of the oldest and most historic art forms known to man. Carpet-weaving dates back to the Bronze age, but the act of decorating a home with woven wool rugs dates further back. Today, owning a carpet is more than for quieting footsteps – it provides you a beautiful piece of artwork to display in your home, acts as a talking point and most importantly – keeps your home comfortable. In this blog, we talk about some of the most important things to note before you take that first step into buying a beautiful carpet.
1. Knot Density
Knot density refers to the number of knots per square inch on the carpet. It’s one of the most basic means of determining the level of detail in a piece. Carpets are known to range from 30 to 3000 knots per square inch.
When checking the knot density of a carpet, the easiest way is to look at the back of the piece and count the knots against a measurement tape or a new Singaporean 50c coin. Multiply the number of knots on the horizontal side by the knots on the vertical side – your total is the approximate knot density of the carpet. The higher the number of knots, the greater the detail in design.
The colours used in carpets are also a huge factor in determining the overall quality and look of the piece. The number of colours and type of dyes also vary greatly, and can affect each carpets value.
The dying techniques of wool and silk are as old as carpet making itself. This was a guarded discipline in olden times, making it a symbol of artistic status. In pre-19th century times the dyes were obtained from natural sources like plants, animals and minerals. These dyes are knowns as natural dyes. Dyes made specifically from non-animal origin are also sometimes referred to vegetable dyes. Some of the main sources of natural dyes are madder root, indigo, cochineal insect and saffron, among others.
Now, synthetic dyes are more common – they’re easier to manufacture and cheaper to produce. This leads to more affordable carpets – making it more mass-market friendly. Unfortunately, synthetic dyes tend to be duller and less vibrant as compared to natural dyes, leading to carpets that lack vibrancy and splendour.
3. Carpet Material
What your carpet is made of contributes to their overall impression, feel, quality and value. Historically, Oriental carpets have been made with different materials ranging from wool, cotton, silk, jute or animal hair. Today, the most prominent materials used to create beautiful carpets are wool, silk and cotton.
Different materials have their own charms. For example, cotton rugs tend to be more durable and holds its shape better and is an easy material to work with for finer weaves. Unfortunately, cotton is also predisposed to mildew, and has to be taken care of well. Cotton rugs are a lower-cost alternative to the finer silk and wool carpets.
Silk carpets have more vibrant colours and are delicate, despite being made with one of the strongest woven materials on the market. Wool is more traditional and has been used throughout the years as carpet material. They tend to be more durable, strong and have an intense colour payoff.
Carpet making is an art form which is over 3000 years old. Carpetistry flourished during the Safavid dynasty, between the years 1499-1722 in Persia. The vintage of each hand-made carpet is also one of the important things to lookout for when buying a piece.
So how do you distinguish the vintage of a carpet? A carpet which is less than 20 years old is considered new, between 30-80 is called old and a carpet more than 90 years old is called an antique. Different vintages of carpets provide a glimpse into different artistic viewpoints throughout history, and we’re finding that a lot of customers are looking at carrying vintage carpets in their homes – it’s like having a part of history in your living room.
5. Carpet Design
The designs of a hand-made carpet can tell us a lot of things – mainly where and when the carpet was made, the lifestyle of the weaver, his culture and surroundings. Think of a carpet as a form of living artwork – you get a glimpse into a world you might not have experienced simply by owning a beautiful carpet.
There are some commonly used terms for designs you find on carpets. You can find all-over designs, medallion pieces, one-directional designs or depictions of different scenes. Patterns and designs are commonly classified by their motifs, region or people.
6. Place of Weaving
Persian carpets remain one of the most popular types of carpets in today’s market – and are historically known to be gorgeous, vibrant pieces. Carpets are woven by either normadic tribes in central villages, town workshops or royal courts or even formal factories.
Carpets are also still woven all around the world in places including Turkey, Russia (Caucasus mountain), Turkmenistan, China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, and many other countries.
A place of origin can determine the quality and design of the piece – different regions tend to produce different colours and motifs.
7. Carpet Weaving Technique
Here are three main kinds of techniques in the weaving tradition. These are called Carpets, Kilims and Soumaks. A Carpet is hand-knotted with a pile, a Kilim is a double-sided flat-weave, and a Soumak is a flat-weave which is one-sided, and tends to be seen on rugs and bags.
They each have their respective traits and do well in different situations in a home environment.
Make sure you get documentation
One of the most important things to look out for when going to a store to buy a carpet is to ask to be educated about the carpet and to ask for its accompanying documents. Ensure you have the following things before you buy:
- Certificate of Authenticity
- Receipt of Purchase
- Guide on Caring for the Carpet
A good carpet shop will be more than happy to put in writing what you have bought, its authenticity, and how to best maintain it. If you have a carpet and are unsure of their origins or how to maintain it, please contact us and we’ll be happy to look into it for you.