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Hand Knotted Rugs
Hand-Knotted Rugs |The Hand-Knotting Process |Hand Carving |Tools of the Trade
Persian Knot |Turkish Knot |Jufti Knot |Knot Density |Advantages/Disadvantages

Hand-Knotted Rugs

When you buy a hand-knotted rug, this means that a skilled weaver individually tied every knot, this creating a one-of-a-kind handmade rug. That is what makes hand-knotted rugs so special, and that is what makes them so much more expensive than all other types of area rugs. Depending on how many knots are in each square inch (50 to 160 knots per inch is typical, 400 per square inch is remarkable), it can take more than a year for one weaver to complete a 9x12 rug.

Wool, silk and cotton are the three primary materials that are used to make a hand-knotted rug. Wool is the most used material. New Zealand and South Korean wools are often mixed with local wools because they have more lanolin, which adds sheen, strength and suppleness. Silk is used primarily for accent because it is not as strong and is more expensive. Cotton is sometimes used in the foundation, but is not seen in the pile. The combination of these materials makes for an extremely strong rug.

If the price of a silk rug sounds too good to be true, the rug is probably made of cotton or rayon. Ask the rug merchant to pull a strand of thread from the rug and burn. If it's silk, it will smell like burning hair. Burned rayon and cotton will smell like burned paper.

Hand-knotted rugs can withstand high traffic, and will begin to wear out after 20 or more years of use. High traffic areas include hallways, family room and entryway. Medium traffic areas include the dining room and home office. Low traffic areas include bedrooms and formal living room.


Hand Knotted Rug Hand Knotted Rug Carpet
Hand-Knotted Rug Hand-Knotted Rug

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The Hand-Knotting Process


After the loom is set up, the warp (or vertical) threads are tied on the loom. These are the threads that eventually become the fringe of the rug. The weft runs horizontally and intertwines with the warp to create the foundation of the rug. The weft also creates the selvedges (or edges) of the rug, which hold the rug together. The knots, made of wool or silk, are then tied to the warp threads. The weaver uses a knife (or a hook) to cut the knot, ties the knot with his or her hands, and finishes the process by securing and tightening the knot with a comb-like tool. An experienced weaver can tie one knot every two seconds.

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Hand Carving


Hand carving is sometimes referred to as embossing. Hand carving is the process of shearing areas of the rug pile to create a three-dimensional look. Typically, carving accentuates the design in the rug. This process is very difficult and is performed only by highly skilled artisans.


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Tools of the Trade


A quality loom is the first thing that a weaver needs to make a straight rug. Country or nomadic rugs are often made on a horizontal loom and rugs made in factories are made on vertical looms. Looms range greatly in complexity and quality.

Once set up at the loom, a weaver uses only a hooked knife (or gollab) to catch the yarn behind the warp threads and pushes it through to the face of the rug. The weaver then uses a comb (or beater) to tighten the rows of knots together. A scissors is also used to clip the threads evenly on the back of the rug. A skilled weaver can tie one thousand knots per hour.



There are two different kinds of knots that are used to construct a hand-knotted rug. The type of knot used depends largely on the region and how the tradition was passed through the generations. Most countries weave rugs using the Persian knot.

A cartoon is used to help the weaver identify the pattern of the rug, and which color each knot should be. It is drawn to scale on graph paper. Each square represents one knot. Very experienced weavers will rarely refer to the cartoon. Sometimes instead of a cartoon, weavers use a talim card. One person will be designated to read the color and number of knots to a group of weavers.



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Persian Knot


Also known as the Senneth knot, the Persian knot is asymmetrical. These knots are open to one side. The benefits of this knot are that it does not leave gaps and it is less bulky than Turkish knots. This type of knot makes better curvilinear or floral patterns. Countries that use the Persian knot are: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and China.

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Turkish Knot


Also known as the Ghiordes knot, the Turkish knot is symmetrical. You can identify it when you see two little bumps or nodes within one knot on the back of the rug (also known as a double knot). Countries that use the Turkish knot include: Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran.

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Jufti Knot


Jufti knots, also called false knots, can be either Persian or Turkish in nature. However, they are not desirable because the weaver is taking a short cut and tying it around four warp threads instead of two. Jufti knot rugs take half the time to make so they are less expensive, but they are much less durable.

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Knot Density


A large part of a hand-knotted rug’s value is placed on how many knots there are in one square inch. Knots per square inch ranges from 40 up to 2,000. 160 knots per square inch is considered very good, 400 knots per square inch is extraordinary, and 1,000 knots per inch or more is very rare. It is tricky to figure out the number of knots per square inch because it depends on whether or not the knots were tied on the same plane. If they were tied on the same plane, one knot shows on the back of the rug like two knots. If the knots were tied onto two different planes, each single bump or node is counted as a knot.

The best way to judge the number of knots per square inch is by looking at the colors. If there are single colored nodes, then count each node as one knot. If the colored nodes are appearing in pairs, then count two nodes as one knot.

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Advantages/Disadvantages of Hand-Knotted Rugs


  • Owning a hand-knotted rug is truly owning a “one-of-a-kind” handmade piece of art.

  • Hand-knotted rugs are extremely durable.

  • Hand-knotted rugs can last several generations and become a valuable family heirloom.


  • There are varying degrees of quality among hand-knotted rugs on the market.

  • Hand-knotted rugs are the most expensive type of rug.

  • It is difficult to determine the age, origin and materials used in making a hand-knotted rug.
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