How to Choose a Persian Rug

A high quality Persian rug is an investment, but one that will add beauty to your home for generations to come. Because good quality Persian rugs do tend to be expensive, it’s well worth taking the time to understand what sets a good rug apart from an average one.

Determine the rug’s quality
The quality of the rug determines not only how attractive it is, but how long it will last. Ideally, you’ll want a hand-woven rug. These will can be passed on for 4 or 5 generations, if not longer, whereas machine-made rugs tend to wear out after 20 years or so. There are a few tricks to determining whether or not a rug was hand-made. The loops on the back of the rug will be clearly visible, the rug should be flexible and not crack when folded, and any fringe will have been woven in, not sewn on. The quality of the wool used to weave the carpet. Good wools is soft and lustrous, whereas poor quality wool tends to be dull and scratchy. This is important because softer wool absorbs dyes better so it’s less likely to fade. The number of knots per inch is frequently said to be an indication of quality, but don’t get too hung up on counting knots. Even in high quality rugs, the number of knots can vary with pattern.

Traditional designs
In the higher quality Persian rugs, designs follow traditional patterns used in various regions of Iran. Keep in mind, though, that just because the design of a Persian rug is labeled “tribal” or “ethnic,” that doesn’t mean it’s an antique or even handmade. Persian rugs come a multitude of different patterns. They can generally be grouped into three categories: pictorial designs depicting scenes from Persian history and literature, geometric designs, and curvilinear designs which usually have a center pattern called a “medallion.” Specific rug designs are typically named after the Iran they come from, Tabriz in the northwest, Kerman in the south, and the designs created by the Baluch tribes in the east. It can be difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish which region the Persian rug comes from, but for the buyer it helps to get a sense of which region’s designs you like so you can ask for them when it comes time to buy. Take advantage of Persian and Oriental rugs stores online to look at as many rugs as possible to get a feel for what’s out there and what you like.