Is Your Oriental Rug Authentic? Here’s How To Tell

Published: Jun 13, 2020
authentic oriental rug

Oriental rugs promise quality and supreme design that your average rug does not. When oriental rugs are cleaned and cared for properly, some become heirlooms that get past from one family member to the next.

The struggle is, there are many knock-off rugs out there claiming to be authentic oriental rugs. You might have one already in your home and not know it. Or you might go through the process of having your rug professionally cleaned or appraised and discover that it is not authentic.

Before you start worrying about whether or not the rug in your home is authentic, review these steps to learn your rug’s authenticity.

Look at the backside of your oriental rug

authentic rug

One characteristic of an oriental rug is that the backside of an authentic rug generally looks just like the front design, just slightly less saturated. Plus, many have a tag or other marking on the back offering you more information about the rug (we’ll offer further details about what to look for on the tag in a later section).

The pattern on the backside of the rug should be identical to the front.

The design shows through on the back of a rug thanks to the hand-knotting that these authentic rugs feature when made.

And if you have an authentic oriental rug, you’ll be able to see each individual knot, much like you can if you look closely on a knit sweater. Likewise, you’ll see slight variations in the sizes of each knot since these are hand-tied. Rugs created at a manufacturing plant will almost look too perfect.

When the backside of a rug looks too perfect and uniform, you can almost guarantee that a machine wove that rug. The rug’s backside will be completely smooth and show signs of perfection if it is made with a machine instead of hand-knotted. These tell-tale signs are how experts assess and inform owners of the rug’s worth.

Check your rug for a fringe

oriental rug care

Hand-knotted oriental rugs feature a fringe on the ends. Machine-made rugs might have a fringe as well, but this fringe is added for looks and to try and add to the authentic look of the rug. The fringe on rugs that are not authentic though are added to the end as an accent for the rug.

On authentic oriental rugs, a fringe is required because of the set foundation for the wrap threads. These threads have to terminate somehow and the fringe makes this possible. So in short, a fringe that looks added at the end and is not the end of the hand-knotted strings on a rug make it clear that the rug is not authentic.

Tag or sticker markings

The majority of rugs that you can purchase in the US will have a tag or sticker on the back. However, the absence of a tag or sticker does not necessarily mean that your rug is automatically not authentic, but it can give you some hints about your rug. Generally, the rug holds details about the size, material used, company that produced that rug and the knot count.

On the tag, review the following information for clues as to your oriental rug’s authenticity:

  1. Country of origin (commonly, authentic oriental rugs come from Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Tibet, though in rare cases, other countries can produce authentic oriental rugs)
  2. Material that the rug is made of (look for rugs that are 100% wool. Rarely, you might find an authentic oriental rug with a mild amount of silk or cotton mixed in. This is extremely rare though and more often points to inauthenticity).
  3. Type of dye used (authentic oriental rugs almost exclusively use all-natural vegetable dye. Rugs that use chemical or synthetic dyes are almost guaranteed to not be authentic).

Ask your rug retailer for more information

authentic rug

The rug retailer where you purchased your rug should also be able to offer even more details about your Oriental rug. When your retailer can provide more information quickly and readily, it generally is a good sign that the rug is authentic.

Retailers who are passionate about offering high-quality rugs to their customers go through the process of ensuring the authenticity of their rugs, which means they have in-depth authenticity information available upon request. They’ll also be pleased to answer all your questions about the rug when you want more information.

Oriental rug cleaning tips for preservation

Once you know for certain you have an oriental rug, you’ll want to go about preserving that rug. Because they are hand-knotted, each oriental rug is a piece of art and an art you’ll want to protect and preserve. The right cleaning and care can help ensure your rug looks its best for a lifetime.

rug care professional

  1. Never wear shoes on the rug. When you get inside, leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking dirt and debris onto the rug and putting it through more rigorous wear. Shoes tend to smash dirt deep into a rug’s fibers, which is very bad for your rug.
  2. Avoid over-vacuuming your rug. While a vacuum can remove dirt and debris from your rug, it also puts a strain on the fibers of your oriental rug. Vacuum your rug only when you feel it is absolutely necessary. Don’t just vacuum the rug because you have the vacuum out in the same room as the rug.
  3. Don’t place your oriental rug in a high-traffic area. Rugs in high-traffic areas will wear faster, meaning your investment won’t last nearly as long as it will when in lower-traffic areas. Now, that’s not to say you want to hide your rug in some remote location of your home. It should be a centerpiece for your home but avoid putting it in a pathway where you walk regularly.
  4. Don’t use harsh chemicals on the rug. Chemicals and cleaners will break down your rug. If you experience a stain on your rug, try using baking soda and seltzer water first. If that does not remove the stain, turn to an expert rug cleaner to help you remove the stain.
  5. Have your rug professionally cleaned at least once a year. Send your rugs out for cleaning and repair to ensure small imperfections don’t become enormous problems.

At A Advanced Rug Repair, we’re experienced at cleaning and repairing oriental rugs. Contact us to start the process of cleaning and restoring your rug to its original beauty.


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