Buyers Guide: How To Buy And Care For Your First Oriental Rug
Oriental rugs have been a sought-after collector’s item for more than a millennium. These intricately detailed items are prized all over the world for their history, craft, and color. In the 21st century, decorating with oriental rugs is undergoing a resurgence with luxury designers, both here in the U.S. and around the globe. Why are oriental rugs so prized?
According to Christie’s, “we know from inventories that Henry VIII owned several hundred Turkish rugs, some of which appear in his many portraits by Hans Holbein — the paintings preserving the memory of objects which have nearly all since disappeared. Keen Persian rug collectors included Cornelius Vanderbilt and Sigmund Freud, who kept a rug draped over the couch where he saw his clients.”
Before you start shopping, it’s important to understand the history of oriental rugs:
- The first evidence of Persian carpets date back to Chinese documents from the Sassanid period between 224 and 641 CE.
- An authentic oriental rug is hand knotted in Asia or the Middle East and named after the tribe or town where it was produced. The best oriental rugs contain up to 160 knots per square inch, which are crafted into exotic color combinations and design patterns.
- Traditional carpets are made from wool and/or silk.
- Some modern oriental rugs are made from imitation silk, mercerized cotton, or synthetic rayon.
How To Maintain An Oriental Rug
Whether you’re looking to start a collection or just create an accent feature for your home, it’s crucial that buyers understand how to care for their purchase. When you visit local oriental rug dealers, make sure you find out exactly what materials the item was made with. And to ensure you’re purchasing high-quality Persian carpets, ask where the carpet was created.
If you buy an antique, delicate, silk, valuable, or damaged carpet, always take it professional oriental rug dealers for cleaning and repairs. Your local dry cleaners will most likely damage the item. Oriental rug cleaning requires special experience and solvents, so do not attempt to clean valuable rugs yourself.
Long term, it’s important to keep rugs out of direct sunlight in rooms without high humidity. If any furniture is placed over the rug, make sure the furniture is rotated periodically to avoid creating permanent indentations in the carpet.
Before putting valuable rugs in storage, take them to an oriental rug dealer for cleaning and drying. Store them only in clean, dry, temperature-controlled rooms with mothballs (change mothballs every six months).
Finally, when making your first visit to oriental rug dealers, look for an item that speaks to you. There are a plethora of styles and colors to choose from, so only pick out a piece that you truly love.