The Fine Art of Rug Weaving

Hand-knotted rugs can be defined as floor coverings or throws woven by hand on frames (also known as looms). The hand-knotted pile rug probably originated in Central Asia between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. The oldest, surviving hand-knotted oriental rug is the Pazryk Carpet, which dates back to 4th century BC. Excavated from a semi-frozen burial mound in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia, it is now on display in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad, Russia.

Traditionally woven with silk, wool and cotton, and today even with shoddy yarn or synthetic yarn, hand-knotted carpets are manufactured in Iran, Pakistan, India, Turkey, China, Northern Africa, the Caucasus, Nepal, Spain, Turkmenistan and Tibet. Carpets from each region are different, reflecting cultural and geographical influences.

Based on the way they are made, rugs can be classified as hand-knotted, hand-tufted and flat weaves, such as kilims and dhurries. There are other variations too, as in the case of hooked rugs, which are made by pulling strips of cloth (usually wool or cotton) through the meshes of a sturdy fabric such as burlap. While hand-knotted rugs and hand-tufted rugs are largely manufactured for commercial purposes, kilims are woven for self use by the nomadic herdsmen of Central Asia and North Africa. Made from the wool of domestic animals—goats, sheep and camels—these colorful flat rugs are dyed with natural substances and woven on narrow portable looms.

Special thanks to Richard Rothstein for his wonderful video from YouTube.