Oriental rugs are generally hand-knotted rugs from Iran, India, China and some surrounding countries. However, there are also some Oriental rugs that are woven such as the kilims. These are usually more rustic because they were often made by nomadic tribes and the looms they are made with are portable. They are broken down, moved and rebuilt whenever the tribe moves. Therefore, the looms are not as high a quality.
The kilims, because they are woven, are more angular. It is difficult to get curves in the design when a rug is woven. The knotted rugs on the other hand can have a much greater variation in the design. This is particularly true of the rugs that have a high knot count per square inch. Most of the Oriental carpets are made of wool but some are made of silk.
Each tribe or region had its own characteristic design such as Tabriz, Heriz, Kashan, and Isfahan among others. There is variation between them but you get a sense that they are variations on a theme. Many of the designs are geometric but some include animals and plants and people. With new synthetic dyes the colors are now more vibrant compared to when natural dyes were used by necessity. Some people prefer one, some the other. China has patterns that are quite different than the Persian carpets although they are just as beautiful and the Indian rugs are different again.
Know Your Material
How you clean your rug will depend in part on what fiber it is made from. Look on the back of your rug and there will sometimes be a label with information about where it is from and what it is made of. If it is silk, take it to a professional. Most will be wool, but there are many rugs made to look like a Persian rug that are mass produced and made of cotton or synthetic fibers.
If you vacuum once a week it will keep dirt from getting worked down into the fibers. In addition, vacuuming prevents the fibers from getting matted down as much. But, never vacuum the fringe at the end of the rug. It will destroy it much faster if this is vacuumed. The other caveat is that you shouldn’t vacuum antique and silk rugs regularly.
Sunlight Is Not Our Friend
Sunlight is less of a problem with the mass produced Oriental rug copies. However the true Oriental rugs will fade if they are in direct sunlight over time. That includes sunlight coming through windows. One way to ameliorate the problem is to rotate the rug once a month so it at least fades more evenly.
If you have real Oriental carpets, you should periodically take them to a professional to get cleaned. If you decide to try and clean them yourself with a machine you rent, you want to first figure out if the rug is colorfast or not. Test a small area. If you don’t do this first, you run the risk of ruining the rug when you clean it.