Rug Styles & Information
Braided rugs were an important part of early Australian homes. The craft had its beginnings in the United States in New England where winters are cold and rugs were needed for warmth. The rugs were made mostly in rural areas where access to expensive imported goods was not available.
Originally, Braided rugs were handmade by the people who used them. Since nothing in the household was wasted, the material for the rugs came from any available fabric, new or used. Individual braids were made of three strips of cloth. A round or oval braided rug starts in the centre and the braids are sewn together in a coil until the desired size is reached. These rugs are reversible and considerable skill is needed to assure that the rug lies flat.
Today, most braided rugs are made by machine. Individual braids are made of a central core wrapped by natural or synthetic yarn. The cores are made from a variety of materials, the worst beings paper. The braids are sewn together by machine using nylon filament threads and can be sewn in oval, square and rectangular formats.
Dhurries are a weft-faced plain weave rug made in India. The wefts create the design of the rug. Older pieces were made on a cotton foundation with cotton face yarns. Since approximately 1980, the face yarns have been mostly wool with a few rugs made with cotton face yarns. These rugs were popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s and many will be brought to your cleaning plant. They are usually quite soiled and can be difficult but not impossible to clean.
Cotton Chenille Flat Weaves
These inexpensive rugs are made in India and are for the most part colourfast despite their deep, rich colour palette and generally do not have cleaning considerations.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, wool tapestry woven rugs were made in Aubusson, France. Today they are reproduced in China, Unlike Chinese needlepoint rugs, these rugs are usually ‘in square’, colours are fast, and do no have any inherent problems.
Flat woven rugs that are made with a soumak stitch are referred to as ‘somak’ rugs. These rugs are principally made in Afganistan, the Caucasus region, China, India, Iran, and Turkey. The pattern-forming face yarns pass over either two or four wraps and return in the opposite direction under one or two warps. This method sometimes leave lose threads on the back of the rug where the colours change. At times, there may be one or more wefts between each row of soumak.
The Flokati rug has a long tradition in the history of Greece. As late as 1945, the worth of a bride’s dowry was measured by its number of Flokati rugs. Through the ages, Flokatis have been used as rugs in tents and palaces, blankets, and coverings for walls, chests, and couches. Only after World War II did the Flokati began to gain favour in Australia and the United States.
Flokati comes from the Greek word “floko”, meaning stand. These rugs are made from New Zealand wool yarn that is spun on special spindles which produce the loose fluffy texture characteristic of the rug. The yarn is then woven into a felted-type backing, leaving strands of pile about six inches long. The pile is stringy at this time.
After weaving, the rug is taken to a natural waterfall where water is allowed to flow over the rug for several hours. During this time, the cold water cascades over the rug softening the wool fibres and fluffing out the yarn until the desired texture is achieved. The pile is now about four inches long and the back has shrunk to its final dimension. Flokatis have the ‘look’ of an animal skin without the skin.
Hand-hooked rugs have been made in the United States for approximately two hundred years and are considered indigenous folk art. Like braided and rag rugs, they were initially made to cover bare floors. The craft stated in Maine, New Hampshire and the Maritime provinces of Canada and spread in popularity across the United States during the nineteenth century. Hooked rugs were originally made from wool and/or cotton fabric on a jute burlap foundation. Th strips of fabric used were narrower than the strips of fabric used in braided rugs. The fabric was pulled through the foundation with a hook to form a level loop on the top. The back of the rug is flat.
In the mid 1800’s the jute burlap foundation used in hook rugs was often recycled from shipping sacks and the designed were drawn by hand with charcoal. By the second half of the 19th century, metal patterns were being sold and the popularity of rug hooking evolved into a creative and practical pastime.
During the Arts and Crafts movement at the turn of the 20th century, hand-hooked rugs kits that included a hook, fabric and pre-drawn design stamped on burlap were sod in stores and by mail order. Today many of the older hand-hooked rugs brought to the plant for cleaning were made from these kits.
After World War II, China and Japan made hook rugs on a cotton canvas foundation with wool or cotton face yarns. These rugs were made using a tufted gun and do no have cotton material glued to the back.
Though the construction principles are very similar, there are several different levels quality that exist in hand-tufted rugs. First, a plain-woven cotton foundation material is stretched on this cotton primary backing and hand-held pneumatic tufting gun is used removed from the frame and placed pile-side down on the floor. After a coating of latex is applied, a secondary backing may be applied directly onto the wet latex to give dimensional stability to the rug and provide protection for wood floors from scratches. Alternatively, after the latex is dry, a cotton cloth may be sewn over the back.
Hand-tufted rugs can be cut or loop pile. The contemporary loop style is often called a hooked rug, but a hooking tool is not used for this construction, as tufting gun is much faster.
Tufted hook and cut-pile rugs are made in China. Hook rugs have either wool or cotton face yarns. The cut-iple rugs are made with wool face yarns. A primary cotton foundation material is stretched on a frame and the designs are stenciled onto this material. The yarns are then tufted into the primary backing material and a secondary backing of ivory-coloured cotton canvas material is glued on the back. Hemming the primary backing after the secondary backing is applied with latex, finishes the ends and sides. The hook rugs do not have fringes or overcasting on the sides. a 2-inch wide cotton binding may be glued around the four sides of the cut-pile rugs.
The hook and cut-pile rugs from India are much thicker and heavier than those from China. The face yarns are either wool or cotton and the sides are overcast in the same materials as the face yarns. The secondary backing material may be dyed in various colours such as blue, green or ivory Sometimes, a two-inch wide cotton binding material is then glued around the four sides. If there is a fringe on the cut-pile rugs, it is glued onto the ends. The glue may leave a discoloured stain on the top of the fringe when it begins to oxidise. Customers may complain about latex off-gassing, but this odour is difficult if not impossible to remove completely.
Kashmir Chainstich rugs come from kashmir, the northernmost state of India. The chainstich embroidery is executed on a foundation of pre-shrunk white cotton fabric with a hook called an ‘ari’. The hook covers a much larger area than a needle in the same amount of time. Following a design stenciled on the cotton foundation material, the chainstitch covers the entire area with the background colour executed in concentric circles. The rug is complete when a cotton canvas material is sewn on the back.
Portuguese needlepoint rugs originated in the small town of Arrailos, in central Portugal, aprroximately 500 years ago. For the past 200 years, the rugs have been made on a plain weave jute foundation. The type of stitch used is called an oblique or long-arm cross stitch. The face fibres are a 3-ply wool tapestry yarn, and the rugs may have no fringe or a looped fringe on all four sides that is added after the rug is completed.
Two types of needlepoint rugs are available; petit point and gros point. The space between the holes in the canvas used on gros point rugs is bigger than is used in standard Portuguese rugs resulting in larger stitches. These rugs rarely need blocking as they are not stitched on the bias or diagonal as in Chinese needlepoint’s (which will be discussed later) and they are never lined.
Contemporary Chinese needlepoint rugs are made on a cotton or synthetic Penelope or Duo canvas foundation using wool yarn. A diagonal stitch is made over two sets of parallel threads of canvas to create the design. Most of these rugs are influenced by French designs.
Greek needlepoint rugs have no cleaning problems except that the lining of jute or cotton can shrink during cleaning and must be removed and re-sewn.
Rag rugs were woven in early America on hand-looms. Like the name implies, these rugs were made from rags or scrap of material. These rugs consisted of narrow strips of cotton, linen or woollen cloth used as the weft and held together by evenly-spaced warps. Older rugs from the nineteenth century can be fragile. Today, these rugs are made primarily in India and can be bleeders. The pieces of material are usually cotton, but sometimes are wool, and the wefts are usually cotton.
Sisal/Coir/Sea Grass Rugs
These rugs became very popular in the 1990’s and come in a variety of materials and combination of materials. There are even rugs made from waxed Kraft paper that has the look of sea grass.
Spanish Wilton Rugs
These rugs are made on a Wilton loom with wool face yarns. Though no longer as popular as ion the past, they are still being brought in for cleaning.
The field of these rugs is composed of one or more medallions. Additional motifs at each end of a medallion are called pendants. Designs each corner of the field are called corners or spandrels.
Rugs with an all over design do not have medallions and are not dominated by a repeating motif. The field is filled with floral designs, vines, and or/hunting scenes without a clearly repeating pattern.
Rugs with a field that have few, it any, designs are considered open field with borders that surround the field.
This field is divided into square, rectangular, or diamond-shaped panels. These panels are usually filled with floral designs. The inspiration for this design comes from the Persian garden, which is divided into clearly defined areas.
A pictorial rug is woven to represent people, places and things not usually associated with oriental rug designs.
Directional rugs are pieces oriented in a single direction, such as prayer rugs.
A saph is a family prayer rug that contains multiple prayer niches in a row.
The city of Kerman is on an oasis located in southeastern Iran and has been a celebrated centre of workshop weaving since the Safavid era (1502 – 1722). The end of the Safavid era was brought about by the invasion of Afghan tribes, resulting in a reduction of commercial weaving in Persia.
Traditional Kerman designs are center medallion, All-over boteh, garden-panel, tree-of-life, prayer, vase, hunting scenes, pictorials and French Aubusson/Savonneries. Kerman rugs are woven on triple-wefted, depressed cotton foundations with a Persian knot. Kerman became one the most important carpet-weaving centres and had a consistently high reputation for technical quality and design. By 1920, many American companies had offices in Kerman, including major producer, Atiyeh Bros., based in Portland, Oregon. Approximately 80% of Kerman’s production at this time was exported to America.
The town of Lillihan lies in the Arak Province close to Sarouk. Between 1920 and 1940, many rugs from theis region were sent to the United States as less expensive alternative to the popular American Sarouk. The designs and colours were similar to Sarouk and many of the rugs were washed and over-dyed in burgundy.
The town of Sarouk is located in Arak provinces, about 25 miles north of the city of Arak, in northwestern Iran. The city and provinces of Arak was known as Sultanabad until 1935. Other weaving centres in the Arak province are Ferahan and Lillihan. Sarouk rugs began to appear in the 1880’s response to Western markets. Many of these rugs have centre medallion design on a dark blue field.
An aggressive chemical washing was given to American Sarouks. The deep rose coloured fields of these rugs were chemically stripped and re-dyed dark burgundy by hand in the United States. Over time, these American Sarouks can develop a mottled look as the rug wears down to the original colour. Although the dyes are colourfast, wear over many years creates this mottled look.
Senneh lies in the northwest Iran and is the capital of Province of Kurdistan. Contrary to Kurdish weaving’s, the Senneh rug is single-wefted, has cotton foundation, and is finely woven. The Senneh can be distinguished from other single-wefted rugs by looking at the back. Sennehs backing looks ‘grainy’ or like sandpaper on the back.
Morocco is a Muslim country in northeast Africa on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. The urban population is a mixture of Arabs and Berbers, while Berbers comprise the majority of the rural population. Rugs have been produced in Morocco for many centuries, but those most commonly brought to a cleaning plant were made after 1960. The pile rugs and flat weaves have usually been purchased in Morocco by tourists.
Some of these rugs have a cotton foundation, Large braids on each end and a thick shaggy wool pile, simple designs and a colour palette comprising mostly ivory and brown. Others rugs will have a very bold design and colour palette.
In 1947, the present day country of Pakistan was formed from the northwest area of India because of religious differences. Many Muslim weavers left India and went to Pakistan, and the rug industry was up and running by the 1950’s. Most rugs that are brought to our cleaning plant were made after 1960.
Like India, most rugs from Pakistan are ‘programmed’ i.e., each design is made in different qualities, sizes and colours and is continuously available until style dictates a change. The consumer purchases these rugs based on, ‘does it match our furnishings and fit our budget?’ Unlike the wool used in India, Pakistan rugs have a softer hand and higher luster due to better wool and heavy chemical wash.