Rug Attributes

When talking about sizes of handmade rugs, we also need to discuss their shape. Handmade rugs are made in different sizes and shapes. Since most handmade rugs are rectangular, only this shape rug has been assigned standard sizes. Other shapes include runner, round, oval, square, and some odd shapes. We will discuss each shape and their dimensions in detail; however, as a general rule choosing the correct size rug depends on the dimensions of the room or space you are trying to cover. Handmade rugs are not intended to cover the entire floor. Because handmade rugs are a work of art, similar to paintings, they need a frame to enhance their beauty. This frame is created by allowing at least one to two feet (30 to 60 centimeters) of open space between the rug and the surrounding walls.

 

Units of measurement for determining dimensions of a Rug or Carpet

The following is a list of different rug shapes and methods of measurement used for each one.

Rectangular
Rectangular rugs, also called regular rugs, are the most common rugs in the world and come in a variety of sizes. Therefore, standard sizes have been assigned to rectangular rugs in order to make rug selection an easier process. However, standard sizes are not exact sizes. In the rug industry, a rug with measurements of 8 feet and 4 inches wide and 10 feet and 4 inches long is still called an 8 by 10 (8×10). Two sets of standard sizes exist, the Imperial British standard and the Metric standard. Below, we have a list of standard sizes in the Imperial system, and then a list of the Metric standard sizes below.

 

Standard Rug Sizes:

British Imperial System (Width x Length)
2′ x 3′
2′ x 4′
3′ x 5′
4′ x 6′
5′ x 8′
6′ x 9′
7′ x 10′
8′ x 10′
9′ x 12′
10′ x 13′
10′ x 14′
12′ x 15′
12′ x 18′
13′ x 20′
14′ x 21′
 

Metric System (Width x Length in Meters)

0.50 x 1.00
1.00 x 1.50
1.50 x 2.00
1.50 x 2.50
2.00 x 2.50
2.00 x 3.00
2.25 x 3.25
2.50 x 3.50
2.75 x 3.75
3.00 x 4.00
3.50 x 4.50
3.00 x 5.00
3.50 x 5.50
4.00 x 6.00
4.00 x 7.00

 

Size of RunnersRunners
Runners are the second most common shape of rug. They are very long and narrow rectangular rugs. Most runners in today’s market are between 2.5 to 3 feet wide and 6 to 20 feet long, and in some cases even longer. They are used as coverings for hallways, stairways, and entrances. For this reason, they are also called Corridor rugs. The use of runners on stairs is a more common practice in the United States than in Europe. Until about 60 years ago, runners were also used in traditional Persian room arrangements. Many Persian living rooms were covered with a traditional set of rugs including one main piece, Mianfarsh or middle carpet, of approximately 6 to 8 feet wide by 16 to 20 feet long. At the head of the room, a runner called Kellegi was placed. Kellegi measured between 4 to 6 feet wide with a length of about two to three times its width. On each side of the middle carpet, two very narrow and long runners called Kenareh were placed. Kenareh measured between 2.5 to 5 feet wide and anywhere between 5 to 40 feet long. Food was placed on a cloth on the middle rug. The elderly and the host would sit on the headpiece, and everyone else would sit on the two side rugs. All four pieces were sold as a set. A complete set can rarely be found now. Today, as mentioned above, runners are mainly used to cover hallways and stairways, and the wider ones tend to be used for entrances.

 

Size of Round RugsRound Rugs
The length and width are equal in a round rug, and they are the same as the diameter of the rug, so when looking for a round rug, look for sizes such as 4×4, 8×8, etc. Round rugs are unique and rare. The oldest round rug is a sixteenth-century Mamluk. Mamluk rugs were woven in Egypt and had complex geometric designs with large medallions. Round rugs were also woven in French Aubusson and Savonnerie styles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Round Chinese rugs were woven for the first time in Tientsin and Beijing in the early nineteenth century. Both new and old Chinese round rugs are still available in the market. In the past 40 years, round rugs have become more popular in Iran, and are mainly woven in the cities of Tabriz, Esfahan, and Nain. The layout of most round rugs tends to be medallion.

 

Size of Oval RugsOval Rugs
Oval rugs are unique and rare in shape. Therefore, no standard sizes have been established for them. However, oval rugs are measured in the same fashion as rectangular rugs. The larger diameter is considered the length, and the smaller diameter is considered the width. Oval rugs are similar to round rugs in their history and design. They have originated from Chinese and French Aubusson and Savonnerie styles. In the last 40 years, they have become popular in Iran. They are mainly woven in the cities of Tabriz, Esfahan, and Nain. Regardless of their origin, their layout is usually medallion.

 

Size of Square Rugs and CarpetsSquare Rugs
Square rugs are very unique and rare. As their name implies, they have equal width and length. Therefore, when looking for a square rug, look for sizes such as 4×4, 8×8, etc. Square rugs are an ideal fit for square rooms.

 

 

 

Odd Shaped Rug Sizes Odd Shapes
At times, you will encounter hexagonal, octagonal or even triangular rugs. They are mostly rarities rather than the rule.

Layout is the overall arrangement of motifs or objects woven into a rug. Motif is any single form or interrelated group of forms which make up part of the overall design. All rugs can be divided into three major layouts of all-over, medallion, or one-sided.

All-over
All-over
example of all-over rug layout
Medallion
medallion
Example of Medallion Rug Layout
One-sided
One-sided
Example of One-sided Rug Layout

Pattern is one of the most helpful elements in narrowing down rug selection, especially after size and color. It is also a helpful element in finding the style and make of a rug. We could define pattern as the way lines are used to form shapes on a rug.


Curvilinear


Geometric


Pictorial

In the rug industry, pattern is divided into the three categories of curvilinear, geometric, and pictorial. The first two refer to rugs with conventional motifs that are woven with curving lines (curvilinear) or straight lines (geometric). The third (a much smaller group) refers to rugs which portray people and/or animals. By dividing rugs into these three broad categories, we are able to eliminate what we don’t want quickly and find what we do want a lot faster and easier when buying a rug. It is important to mention that these categories are not necessarily three distinct categories and sometimes overlap. Rugs are always categorized by their most dominant characteristics; therefore, even though all pictorial rugs are either curvilinear or geometric, they are not categorized under these two patterns because their dominant characteristic is their representation of people and/or animals. Also, we might even find a rug that consists of both curving and straight lines; we categorize such a rug according to the most dominant type of lines used in creating its design.

A section of standard text, especially a contract clause, inserted into legal documents, or instead increasingly referring to a standard section of code inserted into computer programs or other digital applications.

Style could be defined as the way different motifs, colors and patterns give character to a rug. Rug styles of the world include

 

  • Kazaak
  • Vegetable Dyed
  • Pak Persian
  • Pak Persian Vegetable Dyed
  • Contemporary
  • Tribal Rugs

A section of standard text, especially a contract clause, inserted into legal documents, or instead increasingly referring to a standard section of code inserted into computer programs or other digital applications.

Make is the actual location where a rug is produced. A rug produced in India may be Persian style and could be sold under the name of its style. At the same time, a rug could be produced in the same exact place where its style first originated. Therefore, sometimes the style and the make have the same name, and sometimes they have different names.

When buying a handmade rug, one needs to know not only the name of its style, but also its make because make could be a factor in the value of the rug.

Some of the famous countries and areas where rugs are currently produced or have been produced in the past are:

 

  • Armenia/Azerbaijan/Georgia
  • Turkey
  • Afghanistan
  • Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • China
  • Iran
  • Tibet/Nepal
  • North America
  • Ireland
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Spain
  • Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia
  • Romania/Bulgaria/Albania

A section of standard text, especially a contract clause, inserted into legal documents, or instead increasingly referring to a standard section of code inserted into computer programs or other digital applications.

Pile refers to the material (fiber) used for weaving rugs. Only natural fibers are used in handmade rugs. The main pile materials are wool, silk and cotton. Sometimes, goat and camel hair are also used by nomadic and village weavers.

 

Wool
Wool is the most frequently used pile material in handmade rugs because it is soft, durable, easy to work with and not too expensive. This combination of characteristics is not found in other natural fibers. Wool comes from the coat of sheep.

Fibers from animals such as goat or camel are considered hair, and even though the use of some hair in rugs adds shine, their extensive use is undesirable because they do not dye well. Moderately coarse wool is more durable than fine wool, and the sheep producing this kind of wool can usually be found in the Middle East. In general, wool from sheep grazing at high altitudes is superior, and very high quality wool can be found at high altitudes of the Caucasian mountains and mountainous areas of Iran. Wool from China, Australia and New Zealand is also very good. Natural wool comes in colors of white, brown, fawn, yellow and gray, which are sometimes used directly without going through a dyeing process.

 

Silk
Silk is an expensive fiber, and therefore, it is less frequently used in handmade rugs. Silk comes from the cocoon of silkworms, which thrive on mulberry leaves. Silk originally came from China and it was then cultivated in countries such as Iran, Turkey, India and some countries of the ex-Soviet Union.

The best quality silk still comes from China and an area of Iran in the south shores of the Caspian Sea. Silk has the two qualities of fineness and strength, hardly found in other natural fibers. Silk can be used alone or in combination with wool. Because of their fineness, pure silk rugs require more care. Therefore, they are generally used as decorative items and hung on walls, or if used as floor coverings, they are placed in rooms with less traffic.

 

Cotton
Cotton is used primarily in the foundation of rugs. However, some weaving groups such as Turkomans also use cotton for weaving small white details into the rug in order to create contrast.

 

  • Armenia/Azerbaijan/Georgia
  • Turkey
  • Afghanistan
  • Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • China
  • Iran
  • Tibet/Nepal
  • North America
  • Ireland
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Spain
  • Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia
  • Romania/Bulgaria/Albania

Weave refers to the technique used in making handmade rugs. There are three major techniques: pile weave, flat weave and hand-tufted.

 

Pile Weave
Pile weave or knotted weave refers to the method of weaving used in most rugs. In this technique the rug is woven by creation of knots. A short piece of yarn is tied around two neighboring warp strands creating a knot on the surface of the rug. After each row of knots is created, one or more strands of weft are passed through a complete set of warp strands. Then the knots and the weft strands are beaten with a comb securing the knots in place. Even though all pile rugs are woven with knots, different weaving groups use different types of knots. The weaving process begins at the bottom of the loom and moves upward as the horizontal rows of knots and wefts are added.

 

Turkish Knot
Persian Knot
Tibetan Knot

 

Every single knot is tied by hand. A rug can consist of 25 to over 1000 knots per square inch. A skillful weaver is able to tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 6 knots per minute or 360 knots per hour. That means it would take a skillful weaver 6480 hours to weave a 9×12-foot rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch. If we divide this number by 8-hour working days, that means it would take one weaver 810 days (approximately two and a half years) to weave such a rug. A rug as large as a 9×12 is usually woven in a workshop or master workshop setting by two or three weavers, so the above time can be reduced by half or third. Imagine if the knot density is even higher! Handmade rugs are functional and exceptional works of art created with great patience.

Pile-woven or knotted rugs are created by knots. Most handmade rugs with the exception of kelims are woven by tying knots on the warp strands. The type of knot used in weaving and knot density are discussed below.

There are different methods by which knots are created. The two predominant types of knots are asymmetrical and symmetrical. There are other kinds of knots as well such as jufti and Tibetan. However, they are not as frequently used.

 

Knot Density
Knot density refers to the number of knots per square inch or square decimeter in a handmade rug. Knot density is measured in the imperial system in square inch and in the metric system in square decimeter. Every decimeter is equal to 10 centimeters and approximately 4 inches. Knot density is measured by counting the number of knots per linear inch or decimeter along the warp and weft (visible on the backside of the rug) and multiplying the two numbers. Since usually the two numbers are the same, one number can simply be squared.
How to tell knot size

Knot density could be a factor in the value of a rug, but this is not always true. In nomadic and some village items, knot density is usually not a factor. It is not a factor for collectors of these rugs either because nomadic and village rugs are judged by different standards than workshop rugs. Nomads and village groups do not have the same sophisticated tools as other city weaving groups. Their items are valued by the fact that their designs are created from memory, their dyes and materials are provided from the nature around them, and most importantly the weavers’ way of life is expressed in them. These rugs generally have a knot density of between 25 to 100 knots per square inch. Rugs with higher knot density take a longer time to make, and since nomads migrate as the seasons change, if their rugs are not finished in time for migration, they will have to carry the looms with them. Therefore, their rugs tend to have a lower knot density than workshop rugs. The value of these rugs lies in their heritage and simplicity. They have artistic value.

Knot density is a factor, among many other factors, in the value of workshop rugs or in other words city rugs. Since workshops have more sophisticated tools (though of varying degrees of sophistication) and follow cartoons (drawings on squared paper) for their designs, precision becomes important. Knot density, although irrelevant in durability of the rug, becomes important for creating intricate curvilinear designs because the higher the knot density, the more detailed the design can be. Workshop rugs can have a knot density of between 100 to over 1000 knots per square inch. Rugs of over 1000 knots per square inch are very rare and most likely very expensive. These rugs are generally pure silk with silk foundation because with silk foundation more knots can be tied. With cotton or wool because the strands are thicker, it would be difficult to tie this many knots in one square inch.

All handmade rugs are functional and exceptional works of art created with great patience. Every single knot is tied by hand. A rug can consist of 25 to over 1,000 knots per square inch. A skillful weaver is able to tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 6 knots per minute or 360 knots per hour. That means it would take a skillful weaver 6,480 hours to weave a 9×12-foot rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch. If we divide this number by 8-hour working days, that means it would take one weaver 810 days (approximately two and a half years) to weave such a rug. A rug as large as a 9×12 is usually woven by two or three weavers, so the above time can be reduced by half or third. Imagine if the knot density is even higher!

 

Asymmetrical (Persian or Senneh) KnotAsymmetrical (Persian or Senneh) Knot
The asymmetrical knot is used in Iran, India, Turkey, Egypt and China. To form this knot, yarn is wrapped around one warp strand and then passed under the neighboring warp strand and brought back to the surface. With this type of knot a finer weave can be created.

 

Symmetrical (Turkish or Ghiorde) KnotSymmetrical (Turkish or Ghiorde) Knot
The symmetrical knot is used in Turkey, the Caucasus and Iran by Turkish and Kurdish tribes. It is also used in some European rugs. To form this knot, yarn is passed over two neighboring warp strands. Each end of the yarn is then wrapped behind one warp and brought back to the surface in the middle of the two warps.

 

Jufti Knot
The jufti knot can be seen in rugs of Khorasan, Iran. This knot can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. The knot is usually tied over four warps making the weaving process faster.

 

Tibetan Knot
In Tibet, a distinctive rug-weaving technique is used. A temporary rod which establishes the length of pile is put in front of the warp . A continuous yarn is looped around two warps and then once around the rod. When a row of loops is finished, then the loops are cut to construct the knots.