Material for Your Oriental Rug

When buying an oriental rug, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. What size should the rug be? What pattern do you want? Should you buy a rug made with natural dyes or synthetic dyes? Another thing to consider is the material the rug is made of. There are three main materials used to make oriental rugs, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Wool

Wool is the most widely used material. It’s soft and easy to work with; however, not all wool is suitable for rug making. To truly determine the quality of the wool, it must be followed through the entire process, from clipping to completion. Unless that can be done, the only way to determine quality is from the feel of the wool and the reputation of the weaving group.

Wool is shorn, then washed and teased into longer, straighter fibers (a process called “carding”). The fibers are then spun together, either by machine or hand, into a thread that is twisted together with other threads to make yarn. Hand spun wool is very irregular. Some points of the twist are looser than other places. Because of this, rugs made with hand spun wool are irregular in color and texture which some people enjoy the look of. Other people prefer a more uniform look, in which case, a rug made with machine spun wool is a better option.

Cotton

Cotton is usually grown in most rug making countries, so it is in very high supply. It’s strong and doesn’t lose its shape. It can also be spun into very small strands which allows for intricate weaving patterns. However, cotton is susceptible to mildew. If you purchase an oriental rug made of cotton, it does require more maintenance than others, especially if you live in a damp or humid environment.

Silk

Silk is produced by the larva of the silkworm, which is native to China. Silkworms have been successfully cultivated in other rug making countries as well. Silk is used either on its own or with wool to make rugs.
There are a number of limitations to silk rugs. They are less supple than wool rugs and lack the “springiness” of wool, which means they retain creases and scuffing. Because of this, pure silk rugs are generally hung on the wall and viewed as art, not used as a functional floor covering.

While wool tends to be the most popular material when it comes to oriental rugs, there are still many rugs made from other materials to be found. When choosing a rug, the most important thing is that the rug is functioning how you want it to (either as a usable floor cover, or as a decorative wall hanging) and that it enhances the aesthetic of the room. Because an oriental rug is such an expensive investment, you want to be sure you’ll be happy with your purchase for years to come.