New award winning design ‘Arabesque Gold’ by Tibet Rug Company

Posted in Hand Knotted Rugs, Tibetan Rugs on June 16th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment
Arabesque Gold

Arabesque Gold Award winning design for 2011

Arabesque Gold is hand made by Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu, Nepal and is unique in using traditional centuries-old techniques.  This is a 100 knot rug made with Tibetan wool and comes with silk accents.

What is an Oriental Rug?

Posted in Hand Knotted Rugs on September 7th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment
Safavieh - Old World (GOLD / GREEN)

Safavieh - Old World (GOLD / GREEN)

While the term “Oriental Rugs” is used rather loosely, technically, oriental rugs are hand-knotted or hand-woven rugs produced in the Near East (such as Turkey), Middle East (such as Pakistan and Iran), or Far East (such as India, China and Tibet) with traditional designs.  Rugs or carpets made by machine, by hand-tufting, or by any method other than hand-knotting or hand-weaving are not true oriental rugs.

Oriental rugs are often organized by origin.  The terms Persian rugs, Chinese rugs, Tibetan rugs, and Kurdish rugs are all specifications that fall under a broad classification of oriental rugs.

Although historians have not been able to pinpoint exactly when the first oriental rugs were made, hand-knotted rugs have probably been around since human civilization began.  Man first began using animal furs as clothing and flooring, but as animals became domesticated and farming increased, the use of sheared wool and silk became mediums for weaving.

Oriental carpet weaving as an art form has been traced back to at least the 5th century BC.  The oldest known oriental rug was discovered in a Chieftain burial chamber in Siberia, near the outer Mongolian border.  The 2,500-year-old hand knotted rug was in remarkably good condition with a symmetrical knot motif – still used in rugs today.  You can see the rug in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The first oriental rugs were not just used to cover the floor – they would have also been used to cover seating, as wall hangings, and as ceilings in nomadic tents.   Throughout history, Oriental rugs have traveled the ancient Silk Road as the materials and their designs migrated around the ancient world.  The Romans were known to have adorned their homes with oriental rugs and often used them to pay their taxes, Marco Polo wrote about the oriental rugs he discovered in his journeys through Turkey and China in the 13th century, and oriental rugs are described in Solomon’s palace in the Old Testament.

Today, while there a great number of factories producing low quality cheap rugs to capitalize on our fascination with oriental rugs, there are also traditions of carpet weaving that still endure, with wool still being spun by local people from local sheep and some dyes still being made from plants.  Long may it be so!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section above

Arts & Crafts – Hand Knotted Rugs

Posted in Arts & Crafts, Hand Knotted Rugs on August 17th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment
Gingko Border Wheat

Gingko Border Wheat

While the term “Arts and Crafts” can be used for a broad variety of topics, we are using it to describe the decorative design and style that began as a movement in England during the late Victorian period.  At that time, the industrial revolution led to mass-market products produced by machine with man-made materials.  Unhappiness with this trend led to an increased value placed on handcraftsmanship, truth to natural materials, and simple folk styles of decoration.

This movement migrated from England to the rest of Europe, and across the pond to the United States.  In the US, this style was take up by American designers – most notably Gustav Stickley – and further developed to reflect natural materials and rectilinear designs (also known as the Mission style).  While the English movement continued to stress individual hand-crafted exquisite pieces that could be afforded only by the very wealthy, in the US, the movement migrated to aesthetic mass-produced pieces targeted to the middle-class. 

 No discussion about Arts and Crafts movement can be complete without a mention of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Wright took the Arts and Crafts movement to a new level and ushered in a style of architecture characterized by “organic” architecture that reflected the nature around it. 

Arts and Crafts designs continue to be popular to current times.  The marriage of Arts and Crafts designs with hand-knotted rugs is a natural fit.  Rugs made with organic cotton, natural wool, and silk – produced 100% by hand – truly reflect the values of the original Arts and Crafts ideals.  Today, there are several weaving centers in Tibet dedicated to keeping alive the Arts and Crafts design tradition!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section above

Construction of Hand-Knotted-Rugs – Looms part 5 of 5

Posted in Hand Knotted Rugs on July 12th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

This is the last blog on the construction of hand-knotted rugs and focuses on the looms.

Looms vary quite a bit in size and sophistication, but the essential components are always the same. The most basic loom contains a frame which holds the warp strings and a heddle – or shedding device that allows the weaver to pass wefts through the warp strings.

Vertical Loom

Vertical Loom

There are 2 primary types of looms – horizontal and vertical.

Horizontal looms are the simplest form of loom and are staked to the ground. The weaver ties the knots from a sitting position, looking down onto the rug. These looms are primarily used by nomadic people since they can be disassembled and transported easily – however these looms can only produce small rugs of lesser quality.

Vertical looms like the one pictured above are much more comfortable for the weaver as they can sit in front and work at eye level. These are the most common looms used in weaving centers around the world, although there are countless variations! There is essentially no restriction on the size of the rug that can be produced on a vertical loom – rollers can be used on the top or bottom to produce any length, and the width just depends on how large you want to make your loom.

In addition to the loom, a weaver also needs a number of essential tools – a knife for cutting the yarn as the knots are tied, a comb for packing down the wefts and each row of knots to tighten the weave, and shears for trimming the pile once several rows are complete.

Loom Tools

Loom Tools

And that’s a quick review of rug loom basics!

See Foundation part 1 of 5
See Knots part 2 of 5
See Dyes part 3 fo 5
See Wool part 4 of 5

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section above

Where Does Nature Become Modern Nature?

Posted in Custom Rugs, Hand Knotted Rugs, Tibetan Rugs on June 10th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment
Oceania - Modern Nature Design

Oceania - Modern Nature Design

Modern Nature Designs makes beautiful hand knotted wool and silk rugs. 

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section above.

Turning Sheep’s Wool into Rugs – Construction of Hand-Knotted Rugs part 4 of 5

Posted in Custom Rugs, Hand Knotted Rugs on May 12th, 2010 by admin – 1 Comment

Welcome to the 4th part in our series on the construction of hand-knotted rugs!  Today’s blog will focus on preparing the wool for dying and knotting.

 Sheep Shearing, Wool Sorting and Washing


Shearing Wool

 We won’t spend a lot of time talking about the first 3 steps since they are pretty much the same whether you are gathering wool for making rugs, or the thousands of other uses wool has in our society!  Basically, the sheep gets a “haircut”, the wool is sorted based on quality, and then all the dirt (and stones and sticks) is washed out of the wool.  Washing the wool is a pretty important step because you have to be careful to wash some of the natural oils (lanolin) out, but not too much.  If you leave too much oil in the wool, the wool will repel the dye, but you can’t take too much oil out because you need enough lanolin to make the wool easy to handle and to produce a higher quality thread.

 Carding the Wool

Carding Wool

Carding Wool

 Carding is the process of combing the wool to align the fibers.  For the highest quality wool, this is done by hand between 2 combs.  To keep labor expenses down, this process is often done by machine – but be aware that this produces an inferior product because a machine pulls the fibers more strongly, weakening the fibers.





 Spinning the Wool into Yarn

Spinning_wool (1)

Spinning Wool

Now here’s where the real skill comes into play!  While the majority of wool is spun by machine (more on that below), we will focus on the process of hand spinning.  There are two basic types of spindles; the top (or high) whorl spindle which originated in the Middle East, and the bottom (or low) whorl spindle which is used in Europe and the US. 

Both types of spindles require a very experienced and skilled spinner to pull a few wool fibers and twist them into yarn – constantly batching in more fibers as the yarn is created. read more »

Tibet Rug Company – ‘Desert Sunset’ New Rug Design for 2010

Posted in Hand Knotted Rugs on April 26th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment
Desert Sunset - new design for 2010
Desert Sunset – new design for 2010

Tibet Rug Company announces a new rug design for 2010 – Desert Sunset (80 knot count).  

Custom Lobby Rug

Posted in Custom Rugs on April 15th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Custom Lobby Rug

This custom rug was created for the Marriott lobby in Bangalore, India. The lobby rug was to be a 116′ x 16′ piece that was to be inset in the lobby of the hotel. We would have had to make the rug in 3 pieces and then put them together. For the design, we were given images of the hotel decor and asked to design something based on elements such as the wall paper, light fixtures, etc. We came up with the design (picture of 3’x 3’ sample) and the designers absolutely loved it. The design includes 4 wool colors and 16 silk colors. 

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section above.

Construction of Hand-Knotted Rugs – Dyes part 3 of 5

Posted in Hand Knotted Rugs on April 5th, 2010 by admin – 4 Comments

In the previous blogs in this series on Hand Knotted Rug Construction, we reviewed the foundation and the knots.  Today’s topic is the dyes used to produce such intricate and beautiful patterns in hand knotted rugs.

There are many rug experts who are trained to be able to differentiate types of dyes – both with their “expert eye”, and through chemical analysis.  This article is not intended to turn you into an expert, but to just share some basic information about dyes.

First, there are 2 primary types of dyes. 

  • Natural – also called vegetable or vegetal
  • Synthetic – also referred to as aniline or chrome

There is a widespread belief that natural dyes are always superior to synthetic dyes.  While it’s true that a quality antique hand knotted rug made with natural dyes is generally more valuable than one made with synthetic dyes, there are many more factors to take into account when valuing hand knotted rugs.  For most people, the key questions you need to take into account when purchasing a rug is:  are the colors pleasing to your eye and harmonious, or are they harsh and artificial?  Will the colors develop more character and depth as they age, or will they fade or run noticeably? read more »

Child Labor; a different perspective

Posted in Child Labor on March 22nd, 2010 by admin – 1 Comment

The term “hand-knotted rugs” can evoke different images.  We think of magical “flying carpets” and stories from “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights“ – but the term may also evoke images of dark, dreary rooms filled with little children hunched over their looms.

 Child labor is a subject sure to carry a lot of emotion.  We do not pretend to have all the answers to this age-old problem, but would like to share some of our thoughts and experiences.

First, some black and white facts:

 Fact:  many situations are inherently bad.  Anything involving abduction, slavery, forced removal of children from their parents, sexual exploitation, or indentured servitude is just evil. 

 Fact:  About one-fifth of the world’s 6 billion people live in abject, absolute poverty.  It is hard for us to comprehend the grinding poverty and helplessness that leads parents to put their children to work in horrible conditions, but the reality is these families rely upon child labor in order to just survive the day.  A few years ago, we were travelling by bicycle through Bhutan and rode by a group Indian families working on the sides of the roads.  By “working”, I mean every member of the family was breaking down rocks into smaller rocks for road gravel.  Children barely able to walk sat next to their parents; clutching “hammers” (larger rocks) pounding the ground.  What haunts me the most read more »