Oriental Rug Identification

25 Oriental Rug Identification Tools

10.24.07 | 68 Comments

Learn these tips and tricks and you too can identify Oriental rugs.

1. If it was woven before World War 2, it is neither a Qum nor a Nain.

2. Hamadans (made in several hundred different villages in N.W. Iran) are tied with a symmetrical (Turkish) knot, have cotton warps and wefts, one row of wefts between each row of knots, and often are finished on one end with a simple fringe and the other with a webbing and no fringe.

3. Tabriz is the only Persian city-carpet woven with the symmetrical knot (except for a rare Turkbaff Mashed). The use of the Turkish knot in Hamadan and Tabriz is explained by the fact that Tabriz was once the capital of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire and its predominate population is of Turkic people.

4. Pakistani “Bokharas” are on cotton foundations. Their Turkmen prototypes are woven on wool foundations except for some very new pieces.

5. Many of the tribal and village rugs from southern Iran have multicolored or “barber pole” selvages, such as Qashqa’is, Kamsehs and Afshars.

Old Kerman
Old Kermans like this one are distinguished by their purplish red, dyed from cochineal.

6. Quite often Afshars are in squarish sizes. They can be tied with either symmetrical or asymmetrical knots.

7. Cochineal, a dye derived from an insect, is a red color with a bluish or purplish hue. In Persian rugs it is found only in Kermans and Masheds and occasionally in Afshars—all of which are made in eastern Iran.

8. Karabaughs are the only Caucasian rugs in which cochineal is commonly found.

9. Cochineal is often found in old Indian rugs.

10. Modern Indian rugs usually can be distinguished from, say, Pakistani rugs by their very heavy body and stiff handle, their fat weft threads, and the fact that their selvages are added after the rugs are woven and are not an integral part of it.

Antique dyrnak-gul Yomud
Antique dyrnak-gul Yomud

11. Manchester Kashans were made around the turn of the century in Kashan, Iran with the same wool now used to make, for instance, Pakistani Bokharas- that is, machine spun wool from Marino sheep. They can be identified by their very soft wool pile and by their single-wrapped magenta silk selvages.

12. Turkmen rugs are tied with asymmetrical knots. The exception is Yomuds, most of which are tied symmetrically. Occassionally one sees Tekkes that have a few rows of symmetrical knots just inside their selvages.

13. Bidjars are the heaviest-bodied rugs in the known universe and can often be identified on that basis.

old Turkish rug
Careful examination of an old Turkish rug’s foundation reveals that its wefts, unlike those from other countries, are not twisted or spun.

14. Armenian Immigrant Rugs are those brought out of Armenia after the breakup of the Soviet Union by immigrants and merchants. The strongest clues that a rug falls into that category are full pile and hanging devices sewed to the backs of rugs, usually small, cloth loops. Strangely, the full pile of these rugs often is accompanied by severe damage to the foundation: holes in the body of the rug and eroded corners.

15. Old Turkish rugs can be distinguished from other tribal rugs by the fact that their wool weft threads are not twisted.

16. If it has synthetic dyes, it positively was made after 1865. If its dyes are natural, it may have been made any time in the past 3,000 to 5,000 years.

17. It is possible to confuse Lillihans with Hamadans. Often both have Sarouk-like designs and both are single-wefted rugs on a cotton foundation. However, Lillihans are woven with an asymmetrical knot, and Hamadans with the symmetrical knot.

18. In design, Hamadans and Kurdish rugs often are very similar. But Kurdish rugs are made on a wool foundation and Hamadans on cotton.

old Qashqai
Like Kazaks, old Qashqa’is often have red or pink wefts. Other old Shiraz-district rugs do not.

19. Qashqa’is are most often made with red or pink wefts.

20. Romanian rugs most often are woven with light blue wefts.

21. Karadjas, almost alone among all the Heriz District rugs, are single-wefted.

22. Sennehs are not woven with the Senneh (asymmetrical) knot. Rather, they are tied with the Turkish (symmetrical) knot.

23. Like Hamadans, Baktiaris most often are woven with the symmetrical knot and are single wefted. It is quite possible to confuse them. But if the rug in question wears a lot of rather strong yellow, most likely it is a Baktiari.

24. The most curvilinear of all the Heriz products is that from Ahar. Ahars are exceptionally heavy-bodied as well.

25. The most curvilinear of all the Hamadan products (in fact practically the only curvilinear Hamadan) is from the village of Borchalou. Often Borchalous are made in Sarouk-like designs and feature the color black.

68 Comments

  • On 03.23.08 Jane Dowling wrote:

    I have an old oriental rug. It is a floral, unlike anything I have seen. It looks Russian to me. May I email you a pic of it?

  • On 03.25.08 Richard wrote:

    Please do. Richard@internetrugs.com

  • On 05.03.08 Judy Brinker wrote:

    Like Richard I have an unusual rug and do not know the origin…Atlanta auction house…I would also would like to email a picture of it soon Thank you..learning more and more so beautiful your expertise and simple “one line” helps. Tks Judy

  • On 06.28.08 Merle Palm wrote:

    Very informative article! Thank you. I think I have been able to identify the small rug I inherited with my house – as a “Hamadan” (?) It definitely is hand woven, with the cotton single weft, finished with the webbing on one end and small fringe on the other, and the hand-stitched selvages. It also seems to embody the “barber pole” edges of the Tribal and Village rugs from S/Iran … very confusing, wish I could get expert opinion on this.

    I also have a very large carpet of this style, more professionally made – the pile is not knotted, seems to be just woven thru 2 strands of weft. This one is about a 9`x12`size.

    Anyway, I shall keep searching for more detailed info for identification. Thank you for your article.

  • On 06.28.08 Dave wrote:

    @Merle – We’d love to take a look. You can send photos to erugs@internetrugs.com if you like.

  • On 08.15.08 Anonymous wrote:

    erugs@internetrugs.com

    Sir,

    I hope that you can help me to idendify a rug. I have photos to help.

    I was given this rather old looking rug. The size is approx. 5′X7′. There is

    only a small border at one end, and a small fringe at the other. The shape

    is a bit distorted, It measures 50″ across where the 1/2″ border is and

    only 47″ across where the fringe is. The length is 77″ both sides.

    There seems to be repairs, but I’m not sure because the back looks

    original. The front has discolored areas across the rug, almost as if

    diffrent colored wool was used, and I do think it’s wool, it feels like it.

    There are three dimond shaped patterns in the middle, the two

    larger ones have what looks like a floral pattern. But the two are not

    lined-up the same, one is off center. It is not in good condition,

    there are some cigarette burn- marks , and the colours

    are not as vivid as in the photos, but I like it on my floor. Any help

    would be appreciated, name ,origin and especially age.

    I hope the photos will help.

    Regards and Thank You,

    Kurt Karlsson

    Orillia Ontario Canada

    kurtkarlsson9176@yahoo.ca

  • On 10.06.08 Benjamin Rahme wrote:

    I have two antique rugs that were handed down in my family however we have no idea where they are from or their value. Is there any chance I could send some photos so you can have a look and give me an idea of are and when it as made and the value?

    Thanks

  • On 10.08.08 Richard wrote:

    Please E-mail photos to Richard@internetrugs.com I’d be happy to take a look.

  • On 10.15.08 Jerry Lewis wrote:

    Hi Richard,

    My wife’s father gave us a rug, it is beige with a very light tinge of blue. It measures approx. 8′-0 x 11′-0″ it has fringe on the short ends, and is extremely heavy. We know nothing about rugs, and sadly father in law has passed away. There is an identification tag sewn on the back the one legible thing on it is 12826. I can send a photo if you’d like.

    Thank you,

    Jerry Lewis

  • On 10.18.08 Richard wrote:

    A photo would be most helpful. Richard@internetrugs.com

  • On 11.03.08 merry dillman wrote:

    I was given 2 rugs maybe 2×4 ? I haven’t measured them, anyways my father got them in Tabriz,Iran 1954-57 ( he was stationed there by the Army.) I was wondering about them. One is a scene with camels and the other is a steam ship with what is suposed to be the “Rock of Gilbralter” not sure if I spelled that right… Can you tell me anything about them? My e-mail is ohtoncme@yahoo.com thanks for any info. Merry Dillman

  • On 01.28.09 Rikki Farrell wrote:

    I have purchased a carpet from a friend. I have been told that is is a Bokhara Elephant Print and measured 9×12. May I send a photo to have this confirmed and have a rough appraisal? My e-mail is rikki_f@shaw.ca
    Thank you

  • On 01.28.09 Richard wrote:

    Sure Rikki. Richard@internetrugs.com

  • On 02.13.09 Dave wrote:

    Hello Richard
    I have a rug that has what I would call a southwest pattern, but i think it’s probably middle eastern. Is there a chance you could look at pics?

  • On 02.14.09 Richard wrote:

    Be happy to take a look. Richard@internetrugs.com

  • On 03.02.09 Heidi wrote:

    what does “SNO: 35″ (written on the rug’s label) refer to?

  • On 03.04.09 Richard wrote:

    I’m sorry to say I have no idea.

  • On 03.27.09 morris salame wrote:

    I have 2 rugs I was inherited from my parents that were purchased in NH as used rugs in 1921.One is an 8×10 and the other is a 3×5. The 8×10 is very heavy and thick, and the 3×5 has a very tiny knots and is thinner.
    can I send you pics?

  • On 04.23.09 Vicki Wilcox wrote:

    My cousin bought a lakehouse in a very prominent area that was full of antiques. She isn’t that into antiques and gave me a “Rugno” Persian rug hand woven in China. It is 9.11 x 13.10 with the number 81014,it has fringe on each end, and is beautiful reds and blues. It has no tag on the back only a ticket with retail value of $14,995.00 that says the previous. How can I find out more as I cannot find Rugno anywhere? I do have pictures.

  • On 06.24.09 John Murray wrote:

    I have a that has been in the family for awhile and nobody has any idea where it came from. Could you let me know if it looks familiar to you?

  • On 07.25.09 Mary Ellen wrote:

    Please help me identify my rug which is 10′ 3″ long by 58″ wide.

    Thanks.

  • On 07.30.09 Doug Lassman wrote:

    I have just been offered a rug which has tags and labels identifying it as Iranian, and it also has a string attached to it with a flat bronze lug on the string, there are logos on the lug on each side. Is this genuine or a knock-off??

  • On 07.31.09 Suzanne wrote:

    Great tools!

  • On 08.01.09 andy wrote:

    I was given this rug years ago as a gift and told that it was valuable, but that is all I know about it. I have to move soon into a much smaller apartment and want to sell the rug as there will be no room for it. I have no idea what it might be worth. Any guess?

  • On 08.01.09 Richard wrote:

    Doug,
    Without seeing it I can’t say for sure but it sounds Authentic to me. I’d be happy to take a look if you’d like to send photos. E-mail them to the address above.

  • On 08.01.09 Richard wrote:

    Andy,
    Send me a photo at the above address and I’d be happy to take a look.

  • On 09.14.09 Peter wrote:

    Richard,

    I have a rug that has a tag stapled to one of the corners. It precisely reads:

    Item_No: U-7839
    Province:Khorasan
    Origin: Balouch
    Size(Cm): 175 x 99
    Size(Ft.): 5’9″ x 3’3″
    Fundation: Wool
    Pile: 100% Wool
    Age: Recently Made
    Condition: Excellent

    Made In Iran

    Then there is a bar code with the number: 2032390

    I do not have a camera otherwise I would send pictures. With that information, what can you tell me about the rug? Age? History? Value?

    Thanks!

  • On 02.21.10 jamie wrote:

    i have a rug which is 105 inches long by 72 inches wide has no markings except a round lead weight with a stamp on it ,one side it says arina and on the other it has a pattern ,just wondered if you could help thanks jamie

  • On 11.20.10 Mark West wrote:

    Great helpful article for furthering my knowledge of the art of rug making! I recently purchased a rug from a weekend open market in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

    This rug has led me in search of its origin as its unique deepest darkest green/blue black color I’ve seen just caught my eye and I had to purchase it and search its origin! I will send a picture to your website in hopes you can help me identify it as it was said to be Baluch!

    The flower pots as the medallions and pillars on the sides have me searching to its new or older motif! Thanks, Mark West

  • On 11.26.10 Steve Tyrrell wrote:

    I have what I believe is a Persian Rug, it’s been in the family many years. 35″wide x 47″long plus each end has a knotted fringe about 3/4″ in length and linked together like a plat. So total length including fringe is 48-1/2″ The main colours are blue and red and some beige and I would say it is woven and not knotted. I have a phote which I can email but did not see the option to add it here, so if you can reply to stevetyrrell@hotmail.co.uk I can attached it and send it over. Any information you can provide would be appreciated.
    Regards
    Steve Tyrrell

  • On 12.01.10 Inessa Stewart wrote:

    Nice Collection of Oriental rugs. Thank you Richard,

  • On 12.03.10 Richard wrote:

    Steve,
    Just send it to expert@internetrugs.com and I’ll be happy to take a look.

  • On 12.03.10 Richard wrote:

    Thanks Inessa!

  • On 02.20.11 Leonard Bozian wrote:

    I have a Kerman rug, purchased just after WW2 about 1947 in New York from an Oriental rug dealer.

    The size is 12X20. It has insurance valued at $13500.00 many years ago.

    The rug has very good hand knotted fringe. Very good condition and recently cleaned by a professional oriental rug cleaner Hagopian and sons in Birmingham, Mi.

    Could you give an approximate value in todays market? Len Bozian E-mail len.bozian@yahoo.com

  • On 02.20.11 Liz wrote:

    How do I tell if the rugs I purchased are even wool, or if they are something synthetic? The guy I purchased them from said they were wool, but who really knows?

  • On 02.22.11 Jeff Cattaneo wrote:

    Richard,
    Please have a look at this rug,its been in
    N the closet over 40 years & I don’t know
    Where its from.36″x59″plus the tassels
    Pictures to follow
    Thanks,jeff

  • On 04.11.11 Nancy Thompson wrote:

    I inherited a Persian rug, approximately 7′ x 13′. Unfortunately, the rug’s in Burlington, ON and I’m in Vancouver. If I email a photo, can you provide a rough appraisal and your impression of the rug.
    Photo to follow.
    Thank you.
    Nancy Thompson.

  • On 07.01.11 Danna wrote:

    I’m living temporarily in the middle east, and there are many rug dealers here claiming to sell Persian rugs. Any easy ways to gauge authenticity to avoid paying Persian prices for a synthetic knockoff?

  • On 07.25.11 David Griffiths wrote:

    I am unable to reach you by email at expert@internetrugs.com with a question about my old carpet, of which I have several pictures. My email address is davidsgriffiths@netscape.com

  • On 08.10.11 judy wrote:

    Your blog is great and taught me a lot. I have inherited a 5’7″ x 4′ 11″ carpet reportedly bought in 1963 as an “antique” for $3000. The tag on the back says Iran, wool pile. Pattern is geometric. The warp and weft are both wool, the weft being twisted red and warp twisted grey strands. From your description I believe the selvage is the multi-color barber pole type. I’m not too sure about the knots.

    I would like to send a picture. Thanks!

  • On 08.16.11 Jean Ryberg wrote:

    Last week I sent photos of a 12 x 15 oriental rug I inherited. I need help with identification!
    Did you receive my email?

  • On 01.20.12 Violet O'Brien wrote:

    Richard, I loved the article and learned a lot from it! It made me want to learn more about antique oriental rugs. If you have any articles or books you could recommend, I would love to read them. I have an rug that is “Antique” but I am not experienced enough to truly identify it. would love to send you a picture, if you have the time. Thank you so much for all your help!

  • On 04.09.12 grace wrote:

    I would like to know the name and origin of a rug purchased circa 1965>

    It sounds like Ba be ka bob.

    Supposed to be a quality rug 9 x 12 with fringe

    thank you

  • On 06.17.12 Sam wrote:

    Hello, I just bought a rug at an estate sale for $20 dollars. It felt like silk to me, needed a good clean, i counted the knots per square inch to be 396, its 5’4″x7’4″. The back looks a bit weird can I email you some pics for you opinion?

  • On 06.20.12 Tony wrote:

    I found this rug at a community sale. It looks hand woven and old. It appears to be wool on wool with fringed ends. All the colors are soft and seem to be naturally dyed. All the designs are geometrical. At the edge of each design/color change, there is space between so that when the rug is held up to light, the spaces conform to the design as woven. Can I send a photo?

  • On 07.25.12 Russell Ary wrote:

    My rug has a tag on the back – looks like it’s from 1988 it has a lead stamp with a star on it? How do I send a photo?

  • On 07.25.12 admin wrote:

    Russell, you can attach a photo to an email to expert@internetrugs.com.

  • On 11.08.12 Mary Ellen Jayroe wrote:

    While cleaning my rug, I noticed it looked more worn. I have often thought about where it came from and wondered about the age. I purchased it about 20 years ago at an antique auction in Ruston, LA. It is small about, 50″ by 27″. I began a search and came across your website with so much information. I would appreciate any information you might have time to share. I will forward photos as well.
    Thank you for your time.
    Mary Ellen Jayroe
    Shreveport, LA

  • On 11.16.12 Marcia M. wrote:

    We have an old oriental rug about 9X12 size which was in the family. Having moved to FL recently, we found there is no where in our house to put it. I would like to identify it so we can sell it knowledgeably. If I email you a picture of it, is it possible to provide some information at least based upon what you see? If so, where might I email you? Thank you!

  • On 11.16.12 Richard wrote:

    Be happy to take a look. Address above.

  • On 11.28.12 Chris Sawtelle wrote:

    I love this page, I’m going to send out a pic of a rug I bought, that has some people stumped on its origin.
    -Chris

  • On 12.07.12 Gina wrote:

    Hello,
    I have 7 very old oriental rugs that have been in my family for more than 60 years. I would like to know their values. Some must go since we are now downsizing and will not be able to use them. May I send photos? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Gina

  • On 12.09.12 Kris wrote:

    I sent an email, would appreciate any help I can get. This rug I bought at an auction and giving as a gift to my Mother for Christmas. But, it ahs so many symbols and is so different than any others I’m seeing online, I have a suspician this rug was made as a family rug rather than commercial. Please look at your email and assist. I’d love to give my Mother more information rather than it’s a Hamadan… It even has what look like palaces on each end. Such an array of so many rich colors as well.

  • On 12.24.12 william wrote:

    a family member owning a persian carpet,knowing 100% fact it was handmade. To first give you the history,which make it intriguing to me.a family member in the 1960′s aquired this beautiful large carpet from a priest of a catholic church for services as he did not have the money to pay.the priest told him it came out of his living quarters of the church and to his knowledge had been there at least 100 years.telling my family member it had been there the whole time of his living there the last 40 someodd years.reading arthur upman pope’s book makes this more interesting.well anyhow unclear of exact timing but was from several months to a short few years a individual approached my family member claiming to be a manufacturer buying back all the rugs distributed out and offered him $35,000 for the carpet.which to me a little suspicious considering how long that was in the church.I would really like to find out everything i can about this carpet but have no idea how to start.To clarify fist there is no interest in selling this carpet, we just want to know everything we can about where it came from,age,values,etc. looking on top i see no visible markings as to a signature of maker.

  • On 12.24.12 william wrote:

    adding on to the last inquiry/comment on this page.the part that really interests me is as arthur upman pope wrote in this introduction of more than 3 thousand, many centuries old, persian carpets made their way to european and american churches along with some museums and collectors.racking my brain,how did these churches aquire these carpets?was it possibly first aquired by the vatican and placed in storage for period of time and distributed out to different churches belonging to them in europe and america?if so,did they use some sort of cataloging of each individual rug?

  • On 12.24.12 william wrote:

    i made a mistake back there i had meant to say distributer not manufacturer.

  • On 01.04.13 Joe wrote:

    I hope that you can help me to idendify a rug and approximate value. I have photos to help. I have been told it is of Indian origin and has been in the family for at least 20 years.

  • On 02.17.13 Angela wrote:

    I just sent you some photos of a rug that my mother recently gave me. A family friend gave it to her about 35 years ago. It has no tags so I have no idea on its origin. It has what looks like birds and deer and looks to be handmade. Any information you can provide on it would be much appreciated.

  • On 02.28.13 Valerie wrote:

    Hello, I have a rug that I think is Persian. My brother had bought it in Kuwait when he was stationed there in the armed forces back during the Golf War. He gave it to me but I have no information on it. It is in excellent condition too. I had sent pictures of the rug to Richard’s email address and hope he or someone can identify the origin and hopefully tell me what it’s worth. Hope to hear from him soon as I would like to sell it. Thanks.

  • On 03.04.13 Jules Capps wrote:

    I have a rug I just purchased at auction. There are two tags attached to the back. Would love to know more about it. Would it be ok if I sent several pictures?

  • On 04.06.13 Kirsten wrote:

    I sent you several pictures of a rug I purchased 14 years ago from a classified ad in Huntsville, AL. The lady I purchased it from bought it from an antique store and didn’t know anything about the rug. I think it is beautiful and would like to know the origin of the rug and any additional information you can give me.
    Tanks for your help!

  • On 05.11.13 Jim Baughman wrote:

    Wow, a lot of information above. More pictures would really have helped a novice like me. Also, I think the sheep type is “Merino” rather than “Marino”.

  • On 05.28.13 Jack Kessler wrote:

    I see rugs on eBay distinguished as having tag or no tags. What difference do the tags make?

  • On 06.12.13 Louise (Albert) Guyton wrote:

    I have several persian rugs or thereabouts that I would like to know more about. I know all of these were purchased in Iran before 1975

  • On 02.16.14 Mark W. Smith wrote:

    What determines the ‘top’ end of a rug or the ‘bottom’ end. Is there a definite ‘right’ side or ‘left’ end? I don’t want to hang my rugs upside down on my walls.
    Thank You!

  • On 03.12.14 sandra wrote:

    Please help me to identify the markings on this rug, thanks in advance.

  • On 05.25.14 Ann Wright wrote:

    Great article, clear and concise, thankyou.

  • On 11.24.14 LeeScott wrote:

    Are you still providing this service? I see the last post was May of 2014.

    Lee Scott

have your say

Leave a comment here about the article "25 Oriental Rug Identification Tools". If you have a question about a rug you own, please email us at expert@internetrugs.com. Be sure to include a photo of the rug!

:

« Previous Post:
» Next Post:

We're on Facebook!

1326 Ninth St. @ Gilman
Berkeley, California
1-888-811-RUGS(7847)
local: 510-526-1087
fax: 510-526-1092
erugs@internetrugs.com

Free Shipping for your Oriental Rug