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About Surena Rugs – An Oriental and Antique Rug Company

Surena Rugs offers a wide array of the finest new, semi-antique, and antique hand-knotted area rugs from the most venerable rug producing centers of the world. Serving our clients in Atlanta, GA and around the country, our services include:

Our dedication to our craft has made us the leading rug store for oriental carpets and handmade rugs in the Atlanta area.

We are indebted to the noble artisans whose craft we serve as well as to our clients, who have engendered our success and satisfaction in our efforts. Service to both is our best assurance of future achievements and we dedicate ourselves to that with insight, vigor, and a willingness to always go one step further in our pursuit of quality and client satisfaction.

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For further questions on antique and new oriental rugs, contact Surena Rugs today.

History of Oriental Rugs

Handmade oriental rugs have been around for thousands of years. The famous Pazyryk rug, currently held at The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, was found in the early 20th Century and is estimated to be about twenty-five hundred years old. Other antique rugs are dated back to the 16th Century, such as the Ardebil rug in the Victoria & Albert museum in London.

With advancements in technology, expansions of markets, and customer demands in the past fifty years, the handmade area rug industry has gone through many changes. Nevertheless, the fundamentals of rug-making have remained the same.

Hand Knotted Rugs

‘Knotted’ rugs employ thousands, even millions, of individual, short lengths of yarn. The yarn is ‘tied’ around an internal structure (the warp) of the rug, which extrudes from the face to create a pile. Designs are then created by alternating various colors of the pile fiber (typically wool, although frequently silk and in some odd pieces, cotton) per ‘line’ or row. As work on the rug continues, the ‘rough pile’ is shorn numerous times to examine how the piece is progressing. Once the weaving is completed, the sides (or selvedges) are attached and the extended warps are finished by securing in a fringe, kilim, plaited, or braided fashion.  The rug is then cut from the loom, given a final shear, washed, dried, and is now ready for sale or personal use.

Hand Woven Rugs

Hand woven rugs generally do not have a pile. The designs and colors are created by weaving multiple hues of the horizontal yarns (the weft) in between and in & out of the vertical internal structure (the warp). Various techniques are employed in the creation of ‘flat-weaves’ such as Kilims, Aubusson weave, and Needlepoint. You can learn more about this through the publications listed at the bottom of this page.

Oriental Rug Materials

Handmade rugs and carpets are, for our purposes, generally made of wool, cotton, or silk. In most cases, these materials are found locally, but with the expansion of trade and the ease of transportation, it is not unusual to see these materials from far-off regions.

Whenever the subject of handmade rugs is discussed, invariably the types of dyes used are questioned. Conventional wisdom holds that dyes made from organic materials are the best. What most people do not realize is that synthetic dyes have been in use since the 1860s. The first synthetic dyes were extremely strong in their tones with brand-new colors that had never been attainable from natural sources. The first of the synthetics were a fuchsia pink and an electric orange. The dyes were extremely fast, and many carpets produced using these dyes can still be found today.

Some carpets were a combination of the synthetics and natural dyes. Certain old dyes (primarily black, dark brown, and some greens) made with organic materials were then made deeper in tone by the addition of ferrous (iron) oxide. This addition caused the dyed wool to break down prematurely. This is evidenced by areas in the rug where the yarn became so brittle that it simply rotted out of the rug. Purists will, of course, consider this a characteristic of the piece and, in some cases, an indication of age. However, this cannot always be a determinator of age. As the growth of chemical dyes continued, the range of colors became greater, and they were generally accepted the world over. Yet, the inherent problem with the arrival of these new substances was that many weavers who acquired these dyes had no knowledge of how to apply them properly. The instructions were in another language, so the dyers simply applied them in the manner in which they were accustomed. Needless to say, by incorrectly applying the dyes they proved to be non-fast, thereby limiting the life of the tones. As time passed and new methods of producing chemical dye progressed, these materials were accepted even more readily and the techniques with which they were applied became more known. Natural dyes have made a resurgence in the modern market and are now hailed as the “new classics.”

Oriental Rugs Designs

The most basic starting point is the format in which the designs have been created. The three most common formats are 1) the quadrant, 2) the left-right, and 3) the drop. In the higher quality rugs (or the so-called “city rugs”), the design of the piece is drawn and colored on a piece of graph paper with each small square representing a knot. The weavers of these intricate designs and formal curvilinear patterns are required to follow the design knot by knot and to go back and correct any mistakes which may occur.

In a quadrant format, the designer needs only to produce one quarter of the design on graph paper as the weaver will follow the design in a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion, simply repeating the progression of knots in reverse order as needed. In the left-right format, which is often a prayer rug design or a “tree” motif, the artist produces half of the design as it would appear split down the vertical axis. This creates a “mirror” image. A drop typically depicts an asymmetrical design such as a person, a picnic scene, a historic event, etc. In this format the artist must draw the whole design in its entirety.

We can divide the handmade rugs into two groups: city rugs and village rugs. The city rugs usually have a more detailed curvilinear pattern and a higher knot count — with exceptions of course. Some finely knotted silk city rugs have up to two thousand knots per square inch. The village rugs are generally less perfect in workmanship, more geometric and not as finely knotted, but just as popular and valuable as the city rugs. The more famous oriental rug producing cities and villages from each region are:

Persians Rugs (Iran)

Central region:

Isfahan, Najafabad, Josheqan, Kashan, Meymeh, Ardekan, Nain, Yazd, Qume, and Tehran

Northeast region:

Khorasan, Mashad, Birjand, Dorokhsh, and Kashmar.

East and south region:

Kerman, Lavar (Ravar) Kerman, Baluchi, Afshar, Qashqaee, Shiraz, and Abadeh.

West and west central region:

Lori, Baktiary, Kordish Bidjar, Seneh, Hamadan, Sarouk, Malayer, Lilihan, Tafresh, Enjelas, Hoseinabad, Farahan, Sarouk Farahan, Bibakabad, and Sultanabad.

Northwest region:

Tabriz, Khoy, Heriz, Serapi, Sarab, Karajeh, Bakhshayesh, and Goravan

Turkish Rugs

Oushack, Ghordies, Ladik, Sivas, Qaisary, Bergama, Kula, Kars, Konya, Beserabian and Herekeh

Caucasian Rugs

Shirvan, Kazak, Baku, Karabakh, Talish, Genjeh, Leshgi, Kuba and Seychur

French Rugs

Aubusson and Savonnerie

As the markets expanded and with the lack of copyrights or any other controls, rugs with patterns or adaptation of patterns from many of these places started coming to the markets made in other places. In order to identify a rug, we refer to the order of the words we use.  For instance, Indo-Heriz in which the first word identifies the country of origin as ‘India’ and the second word refers to its design as being Heriz. Since the village of Heriz is in northwest Iran, it means this is a Persian Heriz design rug made in India and it is not a genuine Persian Heriz. An Egyptian Agra refers to a rug that has an Indian Agra design made in Egypt. The value of a rug is affected by where exactly it is made among other criteria. We have seen a healthy output of handmade rugs from India, Pakistan, China, Egypt, etc. in the past thirty years, which provides variety in selection, availability, and price point.

There are numerous sources, in print and online, to read about this beautiful art form. The following publications can be a good start for those of who would like to get more in-depth knowledge of handmade rugs.

  1. The Persian Carpet by Cecil Edwards. He traveled extensively throughout Iran during the late1930s and produced the first scholarly publication on the carpets of Persia.
  2. Oriental Rugs: A Comprehensive Guide by Murry Eiland
  3. Caucasian Carpets by E. Gans-Ruedin
  4. Hand Woven Carpets by A.F. Kendrick and C.E.C. Tattersall