Furniture stores, broadloom carpet stores, and even some hardware stores claim to sell Oriental rugs. However, what they carry is rarely the real thing.
An Oriental rug is a piled or flat woven textile manufactured in the Orient.
These rugs are hand knotted or hand woven using a variety of traditional weaving techniques. They come from any of the traditional weaving countries in the Middle and Far East, such as Turkey, Iran, Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and some of the southern states of the former Soviet Union. Genuine Oriental rugs are not made anywhere else in the world.
Oriental rugs originated in parts of Anatolia and Persia (Turkey and Iran) from nomadic tribes. They were used as personal blankets, floor coverings, wall hangings, curtains, saddlebags and for other utilitarian purposes. Along their travels, these nomads spread the tradition of weaving textiles by hand. As interest grew, Oriental rugs became a acclaimed art form as well as a household necessity. Rug designers were artists, and their position in the village earned them certain rights and responsibilities. Individuals who wove rugs were regarded as prominent members of their communities, and were consulted for wisdom and advice.
By virtue of being made by hand, each Oriental rug is one-of-a-kind.
No matter how hard a weaver tries to duplicate a design, somewhere in the rug there will be at least a slight variation. Designs have been passed down from generation to generation, and are composed mostly from memory. The dyes used on these rugs are often organic, derived from plants and insects, and provide a lasting color and uniqueness. These organic dyes age beautifully, and are one of the reasons why most Oriental rugs increase in value over time.
Although they are considered mostly luxurious furnishings in the western world, Oriental rugs have always been a form of currency in many parts of the Middle and Far East. They are considered a major investment vehicle, and are treated as such by many businessmen and wealthy individuals, especially in Iran.
Each Oriental rug tells a story and contains a significance that a machine-made, mass-produced version cannot equal. It is not simply a rug, but also a real piece of art that, according to Edgar Allen Poe, gives every room its very soul.