Our staff have compiled this list of frequently asked rug questions to assist you in the Oriental rug education.

How can you tell a good quality rug?

Two basic things that show quality in a rug are small, tight knots and a fine pattern with a clear design on the front as well as on the back of the rug. The wool should feel oily, full of lanolin. It’s always best to purchase a rug from someone you trust and from a reputable store.

How can a store say it’s a quality rug when I see imperfections in the rug such as uneven shearing?

Bunyaad rugs are all handmade. Sometimes two different people may work on the same rug which would account for some minor differences. Shearing is also done by hand and so some irregularities may occur. This does not mean there is a flaw; it is just hand done!

Is knot count an indication of quality?

Within each style category knot-count is an indication of quality. However this does not mean that a Bokhara is a low-quality rug just because its knot count is lower than that of a Persian. Bokharas are simply a different style of rug, with their own unique characteristics and beauty.

They say it takes children’s small, nimble fingers to make those intricately designed rugs. If Bunyaad rugs don’t use child labor, are the intricate designs as good?

An immense amount of concentration is needed to make the intricate designs. With tighter warp and weft, stronger hands are needed to tie knots. Experience is needed to read the designs and have the concentration necessary to follow them. Children can’t make good rugs; they are just cheap labor and hence give larger profits to the exporters.

What does “fairly paid adult labor” mean?

Bunyaad rugs are made by persons at least 14 years and older. Most rug knotters for Bunyaad are between the ages of 18 and 55. Child labor is not a child working along side his parents in the evening after school as a way to learn this time-honored art. Fairly paid refers to the artisans setting a price that they feel adequately compensates them for their work and skill.

How do prices and quality as compare to other rug stores?

We find our prices quite competitive if not on the low end for the quality we carry. We tend to carry the higher quality because when people are paid fairly, they can focus on their work. Low overhead and volunteer labor at many of the stores who sell Bunyaad rugs helps to keep North American costs low and therefore our prices extremely marketable.

I saw rugs at other stores that look as good but are less expensive. Why?

We tend to offer the highest level of quality for each type of rug. Because the artisans are paid fairly, they don’t need or want to make lower quality rugs. They are proud of what they do and want to show their skills.

Other stores may not be as concerned with the quality of materials used or fair wages for artisans. Therefore artisans may use poorer quality materials and work more quickly rather than carefully! This may show up on closer inspection or after living with the rug for a while. For the quality we carry, the rugs are competitively priced. Choice of color and range of design are exceptional because artisans are treated fairly and therefore can focus on the quality of their work and on creativity. The level of quality and the uniqueness of rug designs found in the Bunyaad rug collection is hard to find in other stores.

There are other rug stores promoting their rugs as ones produced without child labor. How can they be sure no children are involved?

As more and more customers are becoming educated about child labor, they are beginning to exert pressure on rug companies to stock rugs made without child labor. Many rug companies have created their own symbol to denote that there was no child used in production. Many just trust the word of their supplier without ever meeting the artisans. We know the artisans behind the rugs and can personally vouch for their claim of producing rugs without child labor. Ten Thousand Villages stays in touch with the artisan group and pays regular visits. In the last two years we have hosted a “web-meeting” at National Workshops, giving store managers a chance to directly communicate with a group of artisans without having to experience the 17 hour plane ride to Pakistan. This kind of link is only possible through fair trade.

It is a good idea to ask questions of other rug retailers to see if they indeed do know the artisans and the production practices. Selling fairly traded products from Third World artisans for more than 50 years, Ten Thousand Villages has gained the respect and trust of customers; they know that what Ten Thousand Villages is saying is true.

How long does it take to make a rug?

Completion time depends on the type of rug. As an example, a 9’x12′ Persian rug that has 500 knots per square inch would take 4-5 artisans working 6 hours a day 6 days a week approximately 14 months to complete!

Can I have a rug custom made?

We do take special orders for carpets which are carefully recorded by our staff and communicated to the artisans in Pakistan. Because of the meticulous work that is involved in insuring that the carpet matches the customer’s expectations and the variables such as weather which may affect the speed of rug making, we usually advise the customer that their rug may take over a year to be completed. A small graphing charge is added to the price of the rug.

What is meant by “knots per square inch”?

“Knots per square inch” refers to how many knots are packed into a square inch. Single-knotted rugs (most of the Bokharas and Tribals) have two strings in the same space that double-knotted rugs (Persians) would have four strings; hence twice the amount of knots. In a double-knotted rug, the second knot sits in front of the first knot and so is not visible from the back.

More knots per square inch does not make a Persian rug a better rug than a Bokhara or Tribal rug. Persians, Bokharas and Tribals are simply done in different ways. The basic difference between Bokharas, Tribals and Persians is similar to the difference between appliqued and patched quilt—same materials, same skills, just different techniques. If good materials are used and there is good craftspersonship, then there will be a good rug. A Persian might last a bit longer than a Bokhara, but with an average life over 100 years, it becomes a moot point.

What determines the price of a rug?

The cost of each rug is based on labor involved, raw materials used and size of the rug.For example, Persian rugs are quite labor intensive and use more raw materials and therefore usually carry a higher price than some of the tribal rugs, like Kazak and Khan Mamdi tribals. On average, the final price from the artisan group represents 70% labor, 25% material, and 5% shipping. The artisan group has received between 50-60% of the rug’s retail.

Will my rug stain or fade?

When our representative from Pakistan was growing up, his mother used to yell at the children to stop playing on the floor and get on the rug. She didn’t want them to ruin the cement floor and she knew that her young children couldn’t harm the Oriental rug! Once dyed, our rugs will not accept other colors including spilled grape juice, coffee etc. Water alone, or with a little mild soap will lift any spilled substance. Our rugs can be used in sunrooms or rooms with big windows; thanks to the quality of the dye and the dyeing process, the colors are very steadfast. The artisan group purchases high-quality dyes from a reputable dye supplier. Natural dyed rugs do not fade since dyeing methods of natural substances have been perfected.

Is my rug protected from moths?

Our rugs are treated on the back with a natural substance called Neem, which is a moth repellent. There is no need for any other precautions.

What determines the length of the pile on my rug?

The higher the knot count, the shorter the pile because the design needs to be brought out. For example, silk rugs with 900-1000 knots per square inch are sheared closely because that allows the design to appear more clearly.

What is the function of the fringes on an Oriental rug?

The fringes on a rug are the ends of the warp threads that run vertically from one end of the rug to the other thus forming the structure of the rug. They are knotted as the rug is completed to prevent the warp and weft from unraveling.

What is meant by the “dark side” and “light side” of a rug?

All rugs have a light side and a dark side that is created by the direction of the pile. As a rug is hand-knotted, at the completion of each row, the row is packed down to achieve tight knotting. When the row is packed down it tilts the pile down as well. So, when the rug is completed and lying on the floor, if you are looking into the tilt you see shadow and therefore it appears darker. From the other side, you’re looking across the nap, and therefore it appears lighter.

Why are some of your rugs called Persian if they are made in Pakistan?

Our rugs are made according to Persian designs, but are made in Pakistan. Over the years people from Iran (Persia) have migrated east and taken their designs with them influencing the designs of rugs made in Pakistan.

Check out detailed information at our Rug Care Instructions page, but here are some of the basics.

How do I clean my rug from week to week?

Vacuum with a regular vacuum cleaner as necessary. We find that the suction wand on vacuum cleaner is especially helpful for lifting pet and human hair from the carpet. When vacuuming, try to avoid going over the fringes. If over time fringes become damaged, do not fret. They can be replaced. Most fringes are made of cotton and are not as durable as the wool knotting. Ironically, worn fringes only add to the value of the carpet. As long as the fringe’s knot is in tact, the rug will remain strong. Never cut a fringe off as this greatly decreases the value of the rug.

How do I give my rug a major cleaning?

Most rugs will not need major cleaning for at least 10-20 years. Do not use harsh chemicals or cleaners on the rugs as the chemicals may react with the dyes. This is especially important for natural dye rugs. We cannot be held responsible for rugs cleaned with materials other than gentle soap and water.

Although you can take your rug to an Oriental rug shop and have the people there arrange to have it cleaned, a quality handknotted Oriental rug can be washed in your driveway with regular soap. Using very little soap (regular clothes detergent, hair shampoo, etc.), scrub down the rug with your fingers or feet and hose it down with water. Rinse very thoroughly as soap that is left in the carpet makes a very stiff pile. Squeegie the pile with your hands or with the side of a dustpan to remove excess water. Before washing, take note of the direction your rug pile is laying. After washing, with your hand brush the pile down in the direction it was lying before it was washed. The rug needs to be dried on a flat surface. Once the rug is dry, with your hands or with a vacuum cleaner, raise the pile by stroking/sweeping in the opposite direction. Our staff has also found a home-use carpet steam cleaner to work very nicely, using the approved cleaner soap.

Do I need to put a pad under my rug?

Carpet pads are not needed to protect the back of the rugs or to protect the flooring from the rug. Carpet padding does add a softer feeling when stepping on the rug and may prevent a lighter rug from moving. It is the customer’s choice.

How will I know which rug is right for my home?

If you visit one of our store locations our staff will listen to your rug needs, educate you about the rugs we carry and how they are made, and will work with you to find a rug which will compliment your decor and meet your specifications. We urge our customers to take rugs home on approval to view them in their home environment and lighting. Customers tell us that taking a rug home on approval helps them decide which rug is right for them.

Am I able to buy a rug if I don’t live near one of your stores?

Customers who do not live near one of our store locations can enjoy searching our inventory online. If you have located specific rugs online, you may request more information on a certain rug. We do ship rugs to customers “on approval” (customer pays shipping). In this way, we help customers across the U.S. and Canada locate the rugs they desire.