Pakistan is amongst the world's largest producers and exporters of hand‐knotted Oriental carpets. In the last few decades, Pakistani carpets have reached the farthest corners of the world.
The art of weaving developed in the region, comprising Pakistan, at a time when few civilizations knew about it. Excavations at Mohenjo‐Daro and Harappa ‐ ancient cities of Indus Valley civilization ‐ have established that the people knew the use of spindles and spun a wide variety of weaving materials. In fact, some historians are of the view that it was the Indus Valley civilization that of the first time developed the use of woven textiles.
The tradition of textile weaving has survived in the shape of folk culture in various parts of Pakistan. The textile designs, architecture and characteristic of our folk culture point to the floral and geometric patterns that are basic to carpet designing. This clearly shows that the art of carpet‐making and designing existed in the region from very old times.
Carpets have, from the beginning, been a part of the Islamic culture as it achieved unprecedented heights in Baghdad, Damascus, Cordova, and Delhi and in the fabled cities of Central Asia. They were predominantly used to cover the floors of mosques and houses, and were occasionally used as wall decorations. The first half of the 16th century is considered the 'Golden Age' of Persian carpets, when large carpets with rich colors and complex designs were produced out of factories in Iran. As a result, carpet weaving in Orient was perfected to fine art in Persian and Turkish regions and there were the first to be recognized as Islamic carpets.
Carpet weaving in Pakistan goes back to the inception of Mughal Dynasty, when the last successor of Timur, Babar, extended his rule from Kabul to India, to found the Mughal Empire in the early 16th century. However, historians believe that carpet making was first introduced to the region now constituting Pakistan as far back as the 11th Century with the coming of the first Muslim conquerors, the Ghaznavids and the Ghauris from the West. Established Carpet weaving in Indo‐Pak Sub‐Continent started under the patronage of the Mughals, when Indian craftsmen adopted Persian techniques and designs. The carpets woven in Punjab at that time ‐ often called Lahore carpets ‐ made use of the motifs and the decorative style found in Mughal architecture.
During the Mughal period the carpets made in the Indo‐ Pak Sub‐Continent became so famous that there was a mounting demand for them abroad. These carpets had a distinctive design and boasted a rich knotting density. The carpets made for the Mughal emperors, including Jahangir and Shah Jahan, were of the finest quality. It was during Shah Jahan's reign that Mughal carpet weaving took on a new aesthetic and entered its classical phase.
After the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, most of the Muslim carpet makers, designers, masters and other craftsmen migrated to Pakistan and settled down in and around Lahore and Karachi ‐ two major centers of carpet weaving in today's Pakistan. It is these people who now form the backbone of the carpet industry in Pakistan.
At present, hand‐knotted carpets are among Pakistan's leading export products and their manufacture is the second largest cottage and small industry. Pakistani craftsmen have the capacity to produce any type of carpet using all the popular motif gulls, medallions, paisleys, traceries, geometric designs in various combinations. However, the new Institute of Carpet Designing and Weaving has been established in Bahawalpur to train teachers. The Lahore Design Centre at the Punjab Small Industries Corporation maintains a separate section of carpet designing to experiment with new designs.
Ninety‐five percent of the carpets are produced for export and Turkoman, Persian and Caucasian designs are crafted since they meet the popular taste abroad. Baluchistan and NWFP excel in tribal Turkoman patterns and color combinations, while Lahore and Karachi are famous for single‐wefted designs in Turkoman and Caucasian style, and double‐wefted Mughal types (commonly referred as Pak Persian).
Buying Oriental Rugs – A Beginner’s Guide
From Casablanca to Canton, carpets have been woven for a thousand years or more. Nomadic peoples, roaming the wilds of Central Asia's mountains and high plateaus, developed techniques of knotting wool to make rugs. As the yarn was twined together, magical designs and symbols, as well as the natural beauty tribes would see around them, would be blended to create a unique array of pattern, texture and color. These wandering clans, roving the wilderness of North Africa and Asia, extracted their rich hues of brown and red from walnut shells and pomegranate skins. Other craftsmen, working in the tranquil backstreets of fabled cities such as Fez and Istanbul, would experiment with exciting schemes of motifs.
Why an Oriental Carpet?
A handmade Oriental carpet is as much a piece of furniture as a fine desk or a loved bookcase. A simple carpet can lend to a drab room a magical glow, creating a particular mood and ambience. Each carpet different from the next, has the own intrinsic character, its own special feel and unique design. However, purchasing a carpet has always been something of a risky business. The experience is all too frequently shrouded with guesswork and luck. Questions such as: "Is this carpet good quality?", "Is it synthetic?" or "Am I paying too much?" tend to crop up just as you hand over the traveler’s cheques. Unscrupulous dealers with their smooth sales talk, baffling technical terms and unorthodox methods can transform what should be a pleasurable buying of a carpet into a frenzied nightmare. You can't learn all there is to know in a few minutes, but we can certainly help you to become at least a little "rug‐wise". Pick up a few facts, act in a certain way in negotiations, and you will automatically sidestep many of the pitfalls.
There are so many thousands of different carpet varieties, that it is useful to sub‐divide them into a couple of more manageable divisions. Two very different kinds of carpet are made. One is made with the Turkish knot, and the other is formed with what is known as the Persian knot. Hundreds of thousands of knots are tied side by side to form a tufted pile. Generally speaking, the closer the knots are together, the higher the quality.
Tribal or Workshop?
Many tribal carpets bear the precise name of their tribes such as Bakhtiari, Baluchi or Afshar. Their designs are frequently rougher, more angular than those of city carpets. They are often, and until very recently especially, made to be used only by the members of the clan or tribe. Only in hard economic times was a carpet sold to outsiders. Carpets made in a city are crafted to a much more rigorous system of specific styles and designs, using more measured motifs and regular colors. Their lines are generally more rounded, the patterns more flowery, than those of the tribal clans. The weavers are normally paid by the hour, or by the week: a fast weaver can tie somewhere in the region of 1000 knots an hour, yet a medium size carpet still takes up to eighteen months or more to complete.
Get the feel first
Before you set off to buy a carpet, you must prepare. One good method is to get a book about carpets. Flick through the pages and see what immediately appeals to you. If you are not in a great hurry, try leaving the book open for a couple of days at a certain page to see if the picture of a particular style fits the room. In any case, look at the pictures with great care. Examine the varying systems of pattern: you will immediately see that a carpet made in Baluchistan is very different from one crafted in Istanbul.
Posing as an expert!
To avoid making the wrong choice you must make the seller think you are a serious expert. He will conclude your knowledge and level of expertise from the way you explore a rug, the questions you ask and even from the questions that you don't ask. A few facts and figures are handy to know. A crafty dealer will try to trip up by slipping baffling words into the conversation in an attempt to fluster you.
For instance, Pushi, Zaranim and Dozar are words that indicate the size of the rug. Kaba describes a coarse carpet, while Kurk is very high quality wool. The popular octagonal shape, called Filpai (pronounced Feelpoy) means "Elephant Foot". Herati is a very common Persian design, which usually has a central floral pattern with symmetrical floral corner pieces. It is also sometimes known as Mari, the fish pattern. Gul simply means "Flower" in Persian: it’s often a stylised octagonal flower shape. Boteh is Paisley, and has great significance throughout Asia: it’s seen as a harbinger of good fortune. Mihrab is the Central Arch, which is very common in smaller rugs, used for kneeling in prayer. Be careful of terminology and don't be taken in by it. I once heard a tourist in Middle East being told that the carpet in question was a genuine Khalis Baftagi, which in Persian means "entirely woven"!
Don't get carried away
The first golden rule of getting rug‐wise is not to buy anything on the first visit, or from the first shop you come across. Check out what everyone has to offer: look through their stocks and ask prices. Go home and sleep on it before committing to making a definite choice. Most importantly: don't be sucked in by the dealer's tricks. He may bring you endless cups of tea, pull dozens of rugs down for you to inspect, or imply you can't afford them. One expert of rug‐lore I know insists that when a salesman uses such ploys you must react accordingly!
After the first visit to the dealer's "den" you will begin to look like an expert. Remember to always act with aplomb: use a cool, dignified approach. Learn from the salesman. Look at the way he turns the carpets over, how he examines the underside, watch the movements he makes when he appraises it. Another golden rule is, never buy a carpet from someone who insists extravagantly about the favor he is doing you. Fly by night rug dealers will cause problems later. Be sure to get a certificate of origin [we provide certificate of origin] for the carpet, and the check that the import taxes of your own country aren't overly bothering. If you take into account all those points mentioned above, you'll definitely catch a good deal and not to mention an exciting carpet buying experience. Wish you luck hunting down the great carpet for yourself!
Selecting the best rug for your home!
Before buying your rug, decide on the shape and size of rug. A great way to visualize the rug in the room is to use masking tape to define the area of the rug, or also laying sheets. Be sure to keep note of all your measurements before you go to the store.
Get the feel first
Another way around is to get a feel first. Before you set off to buy a carpet, you must prepare. One good method is to get a book about carpets. Flick through the pages and see what immediately appeals to you. If you are not in a great hurry, try leaving the book open for a couple of days at a certain page to see if the picture of a particular style fits the room1. In any case, look at the pictures with great care. Examine the varying systems of pattern: you will immediately see that a carpet made in Baluchistan is very different from one crafted in Istanbul.
Rug Shapes & Sizes
The shape of your rug will firstly be determined by your particular taste and secondly by the room and area you are looking to place your rug. The size of your rug will be determined by the amount of space you have to work within your chosen room or area. In a particular situation, if you want to have only one rug for a room, it should be cover at least one third area of the floor. Read through our tips on which rug shapes suit which areas:
- Rectangular ‐ Rectangular rugs are the most common rugs in the world and are rectangular in shape varying in size. Rectangular rugs are suited to large areas, such as living areas and dining rooms.
- Runner ‐ A runner rug is very long and narrow and rectangular in shape. Runners are most commonly used in hallways, stairways, and entrances.
- Round ‐ Round rugs are equal in length and width. Round rugs can be used in living areas under round coffee tables to add emphasis to the middle of the area.
- Oval ‐ Oval rugs are quite uncommon and have no set standard sizing available.
- Square ‐ Square rugs are equal in length and width. Square area rugs are ideal for square rooms.
- Odd Shapes ‐ Often some odd shaped rugs are available, such as octagonal and hexagonal.
Handy Rug Laying Hints
For a rug that is defining an area, there should be no more than two feet of empty rug extending out from behind the furniture. A rug used for defining is unifying the items placed around it if the rug is large enough to accommodate at least the front legs of each piece of furniture. A rug for a dining room should extend eighteen inches to twenty‐four inches beyond the table, with generally an eight‐ by ten‐foot rug working in most living rooms and dining rooms. For small areas, such as coffee tables a six‐ by four‐foot or a six‐ by nine‐foot rug is sufficient.
Care and use of Oriental Rugs and Carpets
- Carpets in a house help to reduce noise levels and minimize heat loss through the floor. They are also more comfortable to lie on or to sit on than a hard wooden floor.
- Carpets are harder to clean than bare floors, spilled drinks may stain them, and they tend to collect fur from family pets. They should be vacuumed regularly in order to prevent the accumulation of dust.
- Dust mites can survive very well in carpets, which can be problematic for sufferers of asthma who are allergic to them.
- When using your Oriental rugs are on the floor, use carpet cushions (pads). There is no question that a carpet pad prolongs the life of your Oriental rug or Kilim. In most cases, the best is plastic foam that will not migrate color to the rug or to the floor and will offer good wear protection. Do not use a rubber, jute or waffle pad.
- Flip the rugs over periodically so there will be even distribution of fading and wear on both sides.
- Have your Oriental rugs and other wool area rugs treated for moths, carpet beetles and destructive insects. Inspect the rugs periodically for insect damage.
- Vacuum your rug moderately using a vacuum without the "beater bar."
- Clean spills immediately. The quicker the cleanup, the less likely that your rug will sustain permanent staining.
- House train your dog or cat. Urine stains usually cannot be removed and the pets can do a great amount of damage by chewing your treasured weaving.
- Do not allow the rugs to get wet. If they do get wet, make sure that they dry in the shortest possible time. A "wet vacuum" and a fan can help.
- Do not allow any prolonged moisture to penetrate the rug. An example would be a flower pot set on the rug, thereby causing dry rot or mildew damage.
- Have your rugs cleaned when noticeably dirty and only by a specialist with a thorough knowledge of Oriental and other area rugs and carpets. Do not have the Oriental rugs or carpets "dry‐cleaned", "steam cleaned" or cleaned by any automated means.
- Have any fraying tears or other damage repaired immediately. If a torn or damaged area is allowed to continue fraying, it can greatly decrease the beauty and value of your rug. Remember that quality restoration can save many dollars in future repair costs and also serves to retain the beauty and value of your oriental rug.
Wool Rugs Maintenance
The following are instructions for maintaining your rug:
- Vacuum regularly; at least once a week. You should empty vacuum bag when half full.
- Wet clean as required; generally not more than once every two years, preferably by a professional carpet cleaner.
- Cope with stains immediately. Move quickly. The sooner the stain is properly treated, the less the chance of permanent damage.
Techniques on cleaning stains:
- DO IT QUICKLY.
- Blot up excess moisture. DO NOT RUB.
- Apply antidote from the following list with a clean cloth, working from edges to center. DO NOT SOAK.
- Blot up excess antidote with clean dry cloth. Dry with fan or hair dryer.
- Restore direction of pile with a soft brush.
STAIN TREATMENTS FOR WOOL RUGS
Acids Detergent / Vinegar
Alcoholic Beverages Detergent / Vinegar / Cleaning Solvent
Bleach Detergent / Vinegar
Blood Detergent / Vinegar / Starch Paste
Butter Cleaning Solvent
Candle Wax / Crayon Absorbent Paper and Warm Iron
Chewing Gum Freeze with Ice / Scrape / Solvent
Chocolate Detergent / Vinegar / Cleaning Solvent
Cola / Soft Drink Warm Water / Detergent
Cosmetics Detergent / Vinegar / Cleaning Solvent
Cooking Oil Cleaning Solvent / Detergent
Fruit Juices Cold Water / Detergent
Furniture Polish Cleaning Solvent / Detergent / Ammonia
Gravy / Sauces Warm Water / Detergent
Grease / Oil Cleaning Solvent / Detergent
Ice Cream / Milk Warm Water / Solvent / Detergent
Ink (Ball Point) Cleaning Solvent / Alcohol / Detergent
Mildew Call a reputable cleaner
Nail Polish Clear Polish Remover / Cleaning Solvent
Paint (Latex) Detergent / Ammonia / Cleaning Solvent
Paint (Oil) Alcohol / Cleaning Solvent / Detergent
Rust Solvent / Detergent / Rust Remover
Salad Dressing Detergent / Cleaning Solvent
Shoe Polish Cleaning Solvent / Detergent
Tar Cleaning Solvent
Tea Cold Water / Detergent / Solvent
Urine Detergent / Vinegar
Vomit Detergent / Vinegar / Cleaning Solvent
Wine Absorbent Powder / Cold Water / Detergent
Detergent Solution: One teaspoon clear dish washing soap in one cup warm water.
Ammonia Solution: One tablespoon clear ammonia in 1/2 cup water.
Vinegar Solution: 1/3 cup white vinegar in 2/3 cup water.
Solvent: A dry‐cleaning solvent (available at hardware and grocery stores)
Silk Rugs Maintenance
- Protect your silk carpet from heavy use and soiling. A silk carpet is a luxury and should be treated accordingly.
- Lightly vacuum as needed. Avoid catching the fringe in the vacuum.
- Inspect your carpet regularly for wear and damage. By turning the carpet frequently, regulate its use to evenly distribute wear.
- If the carpet has sustained structural damage such as holes through the carpet, worn pile, or tattered fringes and edges contact an Oriental rug repair specialist.
- If your carpet becomes stained follow these instructions:
- Work fast.
- Blot up excess spill using paper towels or a clean cloth. Do not rub the affected area.
- If the area is not stained, dry it with a fan or hair blower. Restore the pile's direction with a clothes brush.
- If the area has borne a stain, contact an Oriental rug repair specialist.
"You want to look for basically the same thing you would in buying carpet," summarizes Barbra Wilson, technical information manager for the Carpet and Rug Institute. Wilson makes these suggestions: Look for rugs that feature a dense construction. You don’t want to see your floor, or carpet, easily through the fiber. Choose a shorter pile for a high‐traffic area; a taller pile height for a low‐traffic area. Make sure to secure the rug so that it does not slide. There are two kinds of nonskid mats: One for hard surfaces, such as hardwood floors or linoleum; and one for rugs on top of carpet. If you’re using an area rug as the focal point of a room, consider buying a rug with a medallion shape in the center. Repetitive patterns are better for floors in front of fireplaces or bay windows. Simpler patterns contrast well with ornate wallpaper or furniture upholstery. Feel free to have two different patterns of area rug in the same room, as long as the patterns complement each other. Bring samples of wallpaper or paint when shopping for new area rugs. Interior designers suggest three basic methods of decorating with area rugs: The focal point method (use of an eye‐catching rug as the foundation of your interior for rooms with relatively neutral decor); the accessory method (use of a delicately patterned rug as an accessory to a busy interior, with colors that blend well with existing paint, furniture, and other design elements); and the practical method (use of darker colors and sturdier fabrics for high‐traffic areas, lighter colors for an open an airy look, deeper colors for a cozier feel, etc.). Large area rugs go well in living rooms, kitchens, and large bedrooms, while smaller area rugs work best in foyers, hallways and bathrooms. Rugs placed under tables should be larger than the table itself, ideally with an equal amount of border showing on all sides.
Oriental Rug Care
Rotating frequently your rugs to equalize the damaging affects of the sun. Because continual direct exposure to sunlight will damage a rug over time, use window shades, shutters, or heavy curtains to safeguard your investment.
Protect your rugs from Fumes and Dampness from furnaces, stoves, chimneys and auto exhaust can mix with humidity in the atmosphere to form an acid that fades and deteriorates the appearance of wool. Over time, dampness will rot the threads and destroy the fibers of a rug. Keep them in a dry environment.
Wear and tear: If a rug is cut or torn, have a competent person repair the damage as soon as possible. Holes can expand very quickly and ruin an otherwise repairable carpet. With ordinary use, the selvage edges tend to fray as they are not as compressed as the rug pile. Worn edges can easily be redrawn. Fringes can be replaced. Worn or damaged areas in the middle of a rug can be re‐knotted. Even large holes can be restored. (Although this kind of work is rather expensive.) To repair a less‐ valuable rug, a patch from a similar rug can be woven into the damaged area. Sometimes a serviceable small rug can be made from the undamaged portions of a large carpet.
Moths can cause extensive damage to Oriental rugs; however, a carpet in normal use is rarely in danger from moths. Frequent rotation and regular exposure to light and air usually keeps moths at bay. Not only do moths eat the pile, but they can also eat the knots on the back of a rug. Moths are especially attracted to areas under furniture that remain relatively undisturbed. Eliminate these pests and safeguard against their return by spraying the front and back of a carpet every six months with moth spray.
Padding an Oriental rug the life can be doubled with the use of good‐quality padding. Padding protects the rug, especially in heavily‐trafficked areas. The best padding is made of hair or fiber with a rubberized surface to prevent moving and wrinkling. Avoid synthetic pad that takes on the appearance of rubber as it turns to an abrasive powder after several years.
Cleaning: The beauty and life of Oriental rugs are vitally dependent on their cleanliness. Lack of maintenance will contribute to loss in the potential investment.
Sweeping the rug with a broom at least once a week removes loose soil and brings out it's natural sheen.
Beating is one of the best methods for cleaning a rug. It should be beaten several times on each side, always in dry weather.
Vacuuming: Try to use a low suction level and a new bag. Never vacuum against the nap, as this presses dirt back into the rug. (Run your hand across the pile from fringe to fringe to determine the direction of the nap.) Do not vacuum the fringes. The suction of a powerful vacuum cleaner can tear the fringe.
Washing: Oriental rugs should be washed every three to five years, depending on their use and the amount of traffic they endure. Using steam‐cleaning or chemicals on an Oriental rug removes the natural oils from the wool. The pile becomes brittle, and the carpet wears out sooner. Do not, unless absolutely necessary, submerge an Oriental rug in water. Surface cleaning is usually all that is required.
Crushed pile: Revive carpet pile that has been crushed by heavy furniture by brushing the indented area with a soft brush. Moisten with a spray bottle, and brush again.
Hanging: Do not use nails or staples to hang a large and heavy rug for long periods of time. Before hanging a carpet on the wall, be certain that the warp threads can stand the strain. Use a strong poster holder to distribute the weight of the rug evenly across.Storage: If a rug must be stored, it must be inspected regularly. To store a rug, wrap it in fabric. An Oriental rug needs to breathe. It can rot or mildew in plastic. A rug can be rolled up and stored in a chest with some paradichlorobenzene crystals, which make the wool inedible to moths. Renew the mothproofing every few months. Large carpets should be rolled around poles with the protruding ends resting on blocks or trestles. DO NOT lay carpets flat on top of one another for any length of time. A rug stored in a damp or humid area will mildew, which discolors and weakens the fibers. A hot or poorly ventilated storage area will dry out the base of the rug, making it brittle, destroying strength and durability. If you act immediately, you can prevent virtually any spill from becoming a stain. By following the about mentioned hints your carpet will give you many years of enjoyment.