Where Does it Come From?
One of the most common questions we get from shoppers is "Where is this rug from?" When dealing with hand-made Oriental rugs, that is a legitimate question!
Persian or Oriental?
One of the first things to explain is the difference between a "Persian rug" and an "Oriental rug." Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. An Oriental rug is any rug that is hand-knotted and made primarily in any of the Eastern or Central Asian countries. A Persian rug, by definition, is from Persia -- the once-great Empire that is now current day Iran. The Persian Empire collapsed in the 1930s, so true Persian rugs are no longer in production. However, it was once the center of the rug-making industry. Many rugs produced today are modeled after these Persian rugs and are dubbed "Persian" by design, but not by origin.
Today's Rug Industry
The majority of the new rugs we have in our showroom today are made and exported from India and Pakistan. The production of rugs from these countries for export is relatively new but the history of rug-making in this region is centuries old. India was the first country to take advantage of the embargo placed on Iran in the 1970s and 1980s by increasing their rug production and improving their quality of weaving. Today India is the largest exporter of hand-made rugs to the United States. Rugs made in India are most often made with a high-quality blend of wool from New Zealand and India. They often use machine-spun wool with synthetic dyes which gives the rug a very clean, crisp look. The wool tends to be thicker than in the Paki rugs which makes these rugs heavier, but also allows them to lay better. Pakistani people have been weaving rugs for centuries but only recently started weaving the Persian designs. The Paki-Persian rugs tend to be made with local wool of good quality, vegetable dyes and hand-spun wool. The pile is often clipped short and the weave tends to be very tight. Both countries are producing high-quality rugs that are marketed for the western consumer. China, Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal, Egypt and Turkey are other countries that produce Oriental rugs for export, although not to the same degree as India and Pakistan. Each country has its own characteristics in weaving and design.
Why Not American-made?
Quite simply because no American company makes hand-knotted rugs. America has been able to produce good-quality machine-made rugs that sell well in the market, but these are not real Persian or Oriental rugs. The rug-weaving industry in the Middle East and Far East is part of their culture and life-style. Many of the looms are actually inside the homes of the weavers. Almost 85% of all rugs coming from India and Pakistan are woven on looms inside the home.