An authentic Oriental carpet is a hand knotted carpet from Asia. Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Tibet, and Nepal are the largest exporters of oriental carpets. Oriental carpets can also be called Persian carpets though Persian carpets are only made in Iran. A Characteristic of an oriental carpet is having a thick pile, rich color combinations, unique design, and a distinct knot. Oriental carpets are known for their uniqueness as they are known to be named after the village, town, the district where it is woven, collected, or if created by nomadic people, by the tribe that created the weave. Carpet weaving has been a part of Iranian culture since ancient times. The first documented existence of Iranian carpets was found in ancient Chinese text.
Oriental carpets patterns can have meaning behind them, through the palette and weave. They are linked to the indigenous culture from which they came. The techniques used in the weave can identify a geographic region or a nomadic tribe. Floral or formal patterns are more likely from an urban area. A geometric pattern is more likely to be from a tribe. Patterns that distinctly flow in a single direction were designed as prayer carpets. Each family of weavers would place elements in the oriental carpets design to record their history. The use of color is an added element to the record of an event of importance to them. These events from life can be death, a hunt, famine etc. Some common symbols and colors have meaning behind them. For example, a crab represents invincible knowledge, while blue will represent solitude and truth.
Oriental carpets use natural dyes derived from plant materials and insects such as indigo, madder, oak, sumac, pomegranate, cochineal and larkspur. Before 1870 Persian carpets were only dyed with vegetable dye. Since the invention of synthetic dyes, there has been much debate about which type of dye produces a more beautiful and investment-worthy carpet. Natural dyes tend to gently fade with time and therefore produce a much sought-after patina (gloss or sheen). Most consumers know about counting knots to judge if the carpet they are considering is of a high quality. Counting knots is not a true test of the oriental carpet’s quality, it is a guideline. The actual knot count needs to take into consideration depending on the material used in the individual oriental carpet. For example, if the oriental carpet you are examining is made from silk you would have an extremely high knot count. As for an oriental carpet woven from wool your knot count would be lower, some Persian carpets made of combination wool and silk have extremely high knot count as well.
The buyer must consider these factors when considering an oriental carpet. Starting with design, dyes, material used, as well as the buyer’s connection to the carpet. Knot density or knots per square inch is a guide to the oriental carpet’s quality. Most oriental carpets are measured by counting the number of knots in one inch along the warp (the length of the carpet) and the number of knots in one inch along the weft (the width of the carpet). You would then multiply to the two numbers to get the number of knots per square inch and the higher the knot count per square inch in a handmade carpet, the higher the value of it will be.