Rug weaving has been a tradition long held in the homes of many families across Asia, specifically in Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkey & China. Whilst the materials used, designs and knotting techniques are extremely varied across these regions and even within these regions, one aspect of them is always consistent. They are all hand-woven on looms for months or even years on end.
With hand knotted rugs there are two variations of knotting styles that can be used, there is the Symmetrical knotting technique also known as Turkish knotting and then there is Asymmetrical knotting, also know as Persian knotting. These are shown below;
Types of Hand Knotted Rugs
With hand knotted rugs there is a large variety to choose from, you have rugs that have a Symmetrical knot (Turkish) or Asymmetrical knot (Persian) and then within these two types of knot you have single wefted or double wefted, which affect the quality of the rug.
Single wefted rugs are higher in quality as there are more knots per square inch. After each row of knotting only a single thread of wool is thread through before the next row of knotting is done. Double wefted rugs have two layers of wool threaded through before another layer of knotting is added.
Weaving on The Loom
All hand knotted rugs are woven on the Loom, depending on the size of the rug this can either be a vertical loom or a flat loom. The main purpose of a loom is to create the correct tension and dividing the warp.
The simplest form of loom is the horizontal loom, this can be stacked on the ground or supported by side pieces. It is ideal for the nomadic tribes as the looms can easily be dismantled and reassembled when traveling. Wedges are used to create the necessary tension to weave the rug.
Vertical looms are found more often with the settled rug weavers and city weavers, as they are extremely difficult to dismantle and reassemble. With these looms there is no limit to the length or the width of the rug being woven.
There are three variations to the vertical loom, these are the fixed village loom, the Tabriz loom and the roller beam loom. The fixed village loom is the most common loom in Persia.
In the Northwest of Persia the Tabriz loom is most popular, as the rug is being woven the weavers will sit in one position and weave as far as they can, once they have reached their limits the tension on the loom is released and the woven section of the rug is rolled behind the loom and the tension is restored for the weavers to continue with the rug. This process is repeated until the rug is completed.
The roller beam loom is a traditional Turkish village loom, but can also be found in Persia and India. It consists of two movable beams to which the warp is attached. With this type of loom it is particularly easy to weave long rugs.
Materials Used When Weaving
The materials used to weave rugs can vary wildly depending on the area in which it is being woven. Traditionally rugs are woven using a cotton base and a woolen pile, however this isn’t always the case.
Nomadic rugs are more often than not woven using a woolen warp & woolen weft. This is simply because the nomadic people do not have access to cotton to be able to make cotton based rugs. If you visit the majority of towns and cities the rugs will more often than not be woven with a cotton base and woolen pile. However they are also occasions when rugs with different materials, these are;
Silk base & woolen pile
Silk base with woolen & silk pile
Silk base & silk pile
When the Rug is Complete
After the rug is woven it will be cut off the loom and washed with water, traditionally they would have been taken to a local stream and washed in the stream, this practice is still followed by the nomadic tribes. After the rug is washed it is dried naturally. Any excess material on the rug is shaven off, For example the rugs when they are first woven are very thick, they will be sheared so that the patter can be more clearly seen and the rug isn’t too thick, the fringing will be knotted and shortened at this stage as well.