Oriental Rug Basics, Oriental Rugs Today, The Renaissance

Which country makes the best rugs?

11.18.08 | 28 Comments

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Which are the best rugs made today — Egyptian rugs? Persian rugs? Turkish rugs, Afghan rugs, Chinese rugs? Pakistani rugs, Tibetan rugs, Indian rugs…?

In case you have wondered who makes the best rugs — and many people ask me this — here is your last chance to find out. But of course I won’t tell you — because there simply is no best rug or rug-producing country.

Here’s what I will say, though: There are no rugs in the world more “decorative” than the best rugs from Egypt. They can look good in a room where no other rugs in the world will do. When my wife and I staged a house to sell, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were at stake, we used Egyptian carpets.

Persian rugs, on the other hand, have an enviable heritage. There is magic in the best Persian rugs, and a hundred years from now collectors are likely to value today’s rugs from Iran above all others.

Turkey’s tradition is hardly less distinguished. Weaving in Turkey goes back at least 800 years. Add to the weavers’ innate sensibilities a spark from the most creative minds of the West, and you have the kind of symbiosis that creates a renaissance. In recent times the most creative work has often been done there.

The weavers of Afghanistan are tribal people who have always made authentic tribal rugs. Now many of them have been exposed to the sophisticated designs and techniques that flourished in the Pakistani refugee camps. Blessed with a modicum of peace and stability, Afghan weavers are beginning to fly.

The weavers of China are good, good, good, but they seem to be waiting for the right direction. Western producers give them bad cues. Someday they will connect with their own roots and the sleeping dragon will wake. In the meantime, no one can beat Chinese rugs for value.

The Pakistani rug world faces an uncertain future, suddenly deprived of hundreds of thousands skilled Afghanis who have returned home. But Pakistani weavers can take heart in knowing that they can weave finer rugs than their Afghan cousins, and that’s just what they’re doing. Producers are creating perfect colors and designs. Western buyers who are indifferent to the supposed charms of abrash and natural dyes often prefer the best rugs made by Pakistan’s indigenous weavers.

Tibetan rug producers — there is no end to their inventiveness. They are artists whose canvas is the wonderful woven fabric of native Tibetan wool. Tibetan weavers are responsible for a new dimension in Oriental rug design.

And finally, the confusing world of Indian rugs. There are so many productions from this vast country. The best Indian rugs — Mahindras, for instance — don’t seem to find a permanent place in the market, while common Indian rugs seem to survive everything. But now and then people with vision give direction to a gifted band of Indian weavers — and then you have something special.

At times during the writing of this book I have worried that the renaissance has lost its momentum. At the end, though, I’m cheerful. When we tear into newly arrived bales of rugs, there is nearly always at least one captivating carpet among them, one that expresses a new idea or an old idea made fresh. I hope you find as much pleasure as I do in Oriental rugs today.

28 Comments

  • On 11.22.08 Bill wrote:

    Thanks, I was wondering who made the best rugs.

  • On 12.10.08 rugs wrote:

    good article but could you comment on who makes the best quality rugs? i was told Pakistani rugs are the best made in the world..

  • On 12.10.08 Dave wrote:

    As Emmett points out in the article, there are many countries producing high quality oriental rugs – and it’s very difficult to say which country makes the best quality rugs for that reason. In general, there is much more variation in rug quality within countries (depending on the producer) than between countries. In other words, the best Indian rugs are of far superior quality than a mediocre rug from Iran, etc.

  • On 07.16.09 Ian wrote:

    What do you think of Moroccan rugs? Why are they generally ignored in discussions of tribal weaving?

  • On 11.30.09 hi wrote:

    “Which country makes the best rugs?” and no mention of Armenia? BRAVO!

  • On 12.12.09 salar wrote:

    ofcourse , persian rug is the best !

  • On 12.12.09 hassani wrote:

    hi

    i am sure , the iranian carpet is the best in the world

    thank you

  • On 12.16.09 Ethos wrote:

    I know I’m not alone in this, but I prefer the simplicity, earthiness and warmth, not to mention the rustic masculinity of Turkmen rugs.

  • On 01.06.10 shawn wrote:

    I’m from Iran, so basically I’m Persian…;)

    One thing to look for in a rug is the thread count. Expensive persian rugs have sooo many fine threads. So the feel of the carpet speaks for its self.

    Next the design of the rug looks sooo pleasant(way more HiDef than other rugs). This is because of the high thread count.

    Go to a persian rug store and feel the cheaper rugs with
    the more expensive rugs and you will see the difference.

    See the best otherwise you don’t know what to compare to.
    ;)cheers

  • On 07.28.10 Eddie wrote:

    If you are choosing the best rug on the density of knots, clearly the best rug in the world comes from Hereke region of Turkey. They are in the guinness book of records.

  • On 08.29.10 sunny wrote:

    i think the afghani rugs are the best since afghanistan is unrest most of the afghans are in iran and pakistan living there as refuge when they make rugs it counts from that country so all rugs are from afghanistan but the other countries are using their names.and it is all afghans who show them what to do so( irani gaka )(chalos ) shame on you

  • On 09.29.10 Visadiaries wrote:

    If you are in the market for oriental rugs it is best to ask friends and family about rug dealers they have bought from. Beware of deceptive or gimmick tactics used by dealers to lure you into buying rugs at exorbitant prices.
    ———

  • On 01.14.11 Mohammad Hossein Fasihi wrote:

    Hi, I’m from Iran.
    Sunny! I adore the culture of Afghanistan. They are our brothers and sisters and we have been part of one great culture for many centuries.
    I don’t know about rugs in a professional way, but one thing I know is that Persian rug is a result of our regional culture which goes back thousands of years!(and even Persian rug itself has many variants depending on the region and method and …)
    Afghan people were here in Iran for a couple of decades (as a result of a bad political system in their home country) and they were mostly known as workers in building construction here. Therefore I wouldn’t suggest Persian carpet has been influenced by them here. If you came to Iran some day (and we are always glad to see guests) there is a museum for Persian rugs and you can visit.
    To give you more clues about the subject, by western people who came to Iran a couple of centuries ago Iran was known as: The land of people who walk on flowers (Persian rug).
    And I’ve heard by some people here who are in this business, Persian rug is mostly known as a flooring choice for a more royal and aristocratic theme, by western customers.

    God bless.

  • On 01.14.11 Mohammad Hossein Fasihi wrote:

    P.S.
    My grandmother used to make rugs (Kermani variant) many years ago and she’s not an Afghan!!!
    Again, you can read “Gone With The Wind” there is a part that describes the decoration and there it mentions Persian rugs.
    and there are much more I’m remembering on the fly!
    There are and there have always been discussions about Iran in many aspects. But one thing that is very clear about Iran is it’s thousands of years of glorious culture.

  • On 03.02.11 Bay Arean wrote:

    Hi, I learned from a dealer that Afghan rugs are more superior in quality than Indian or New Zealand rugs (or other lower elevation locations) because there are more natural oils found in the wools of the higher elevation rugs (Afghanistan). Thus, it makes the wool less brittle. And this is all I could remember from the convo. You can take it or leave it. But seems logical. I have not done research on net about this topic so if anyone has more info, please share.

  • On 08.15.11 AFR wrote:

    Afghani rugs are known around the world b/c its their specialty and they have been making them for the longest time. I do believe that Persians were influenced after realizing the success and the wide demand of the rugs.

  • On 02.24.12 Olaf wrote:

    the best are from IKEA……..

  • On 04.27.12 Ararat wrote:

    Armenian rug is the best in the world

  • On 09.23.12 Kevin wrote:

    All of them boast their country rug is the best.But yeah,May be Afghan or Persian or Armenian rugs are best too.But Indian rugs are also really good and durable.But lets not argue who is best or who beats who.We all make good rugs & the world loves it.I personally love Russian vodka,Indian curry,Chinese food,Western movies,European cuisine & Art,Guatemala coffee,Australian surfboards & much much more..So lets be thankful for these..

  • On 10.27.12 Anonymous wrote:

    Pakistan makes the best rugs… Period

  • On 02.09.13 Dane wrote:

    I own 16 Persian carpets and 2 Chinese, one a large silk piece. I love the large Chinese silk piece I purchased at auction for $3,000, appraised at $15,000. Most of my carpets have a high knot count but I have some tribal that pieces that go fine with just about anything. I’m Canadian with English and Scottish heritage. I have traveled to 35+ countries and seen some wonderful works of art in the form of carpets. I would have to say Iranian or Persian carpets, for me, are the best.
    Fabric, design, knots per square inch, history and the sheer beauty is worth
    investing more. Look for estate sale auctions, distressed sellers, etc, and take your
    time, it may take years. Learn retail price and look to buy for 10%, in 10 to 20 years you can own $100,000 of carpets for $10,000.

  • On 02.14.13 Anas wrote:

    I had a chance to visit this big carpet store in Paris and they had this huge section of Paki carpets….

    Beautiful works of art those pieces..

  • On 03.12.13 Ali wrote:

    i am from Iran
    when you notice to the knots type you can choose what type of better than others
    in Iran we have two types of knots (Persian knot and Turkish knot) that the Turkish(used in Turkish region of Iran) type is more stronger than Persian type.
    constancy of colors in a carpet also is important parameter.

  • On 06.29.13 Rahima wrote:

    Thanks for the article, but best quality carpet and rugs are from afghanistan, since they don’t have proper governmental departments to support and export, all their workers, technics and designs usually goes under name of iran and pakistan who are holding the fist place in export of carpets actually not really best originated work directly from them.

  • On 07.02.13 Janet wrote:

    I love them all and would like to have a nice example from all the countries mentioned!

  • On 02.20.14 Danny wrote:

    i am mostly impressed with Persian and Turkish rugs. Especially silk handmade rugs which are from Hereke Turkey are impressive. They have a unique history behind this rug making and thus quality shows that.

  • On 08.28.14 Ali Mirza wrote:

    No 1 is Persian carpet followed by Kashmiri carpet. Afghani, Turkish, morrocon, Pakistani. Finally bottom slot is occupied by amritsari, jaipuri n so on

  • On 09.17.14 Nada wrote:

    I learned that dry climate wool is better, if you wanna buy a wool carpet.
    Just saying nada

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