We've moved! Please visit our blog at igotyourrug.com/oriental-rug-blog

IGotYourRug.com ~ 4153 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA ~ 757-486-6600

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What is the Light and Dark Side of an Oriental Rug?

A very large rug on the loom; note that weaving is done from bottom to top

In order to understand why there is a light and dark side of an Oriental rug, first you need to learn a little about the parts of a hand knotted rug.
Photo courtesy of rugchick.com

  • The warp threads run lengthwise (or north to south, top to bottom) and make up the fringes of a rug.  
  • The weft threads run across the width of the rug, (or east to west, side to side.)
  • The selvage or edge of the rug is made by wrapping several warp threads at the edge of the rug with yarn to reinforce this part of the rug.
  • The knots which are tied to the warps create the pile or nap of the rug.
Oriental rugs are woven from bottom to top. The weaver ties individual knots to the warp threads (lengthwise threads) and these comprise the pile of the rug. A knot is mostly woven in a downward motion and "opens" down which creates the pile direction. This can vary depending on the loom set up, as sometimes the knots are tied so they open to the left or right. Most rugs have a distinct pile direction that can be felt, as well as seen. If you run your hand on the pile of the rug from fringe to fringe, or diagonally, you will feel that the pile has both a rough and smooth side.

You can usually determine the "dark side" of the rug by standing at the end of the rug and running your hand toward you and the pile will feel smoother. Alternately, the "light side" of a rug will feel rougher when you run your hand on the pile.

The rug's light and dark sides result, in part, from the pile direction, although some Oriental rugs may have more pronounced light and dark sides because of the weaving style and the luster of the fiber.

Pile fibers lay at an angle where they will do one of two things: reflect or absorb light. On the rug's lighter side, light reflects off the fiber's sides, giving the pile a brighter sheen. From the dark side of the rug, your view is the cut tips of the wool which absorb light rather than reflect it, appearing to give the rug a deeper tone.

The photographs below are the same rug under the same lighting.

Light end of an Oriental rug

Dark end of an Oriental rug

Another article you may be interested in:

You can count the knots, although knots don’t count!

Come by our Virginia Beach Rug Store to learn more about Oriental rugs!

Mark Gonsenhauser's Rug and Carpet Superstore 
4153 Virginia Beach Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23452