There are a lot of instances where someone interchangeably use Oriental rugs to Persian rugs and vise versa. However, the two are separate and different. It is important that you know the difference between the two, especially when you are planning to buy a rug for your home. Knowing a fact or two about the two types of rug will help make you a wise decision, and will also help educate other people that will ask what type of rug that you have.
In the strictest sense, Oriental rugs are made in Middle Eastern countries besides Iran. Rugs made from Western Europe, the USA, Belgium or other rug producing countries are considered as area rugs.
One common denominator between Oriental rugs and Persian rugs is that both are carefully hand-knotted. However, some rugs of this variety may come in as tufted. Hand-knotted rugs are made by manual labor (only with hands), while hand-tufted rugs are made with the aid of “gun” that speeds up the knotting process of the yarn used for making the rug. The “gun” used for knotting also helps in creating the pattern desired for the rug. Once the knotting is done, the rug is then glued to a backing material to put everything in place. Without the backing, the knots will not stay in place.
The reason why Persian rug is interchangeably referred to Oriental rugs is because it is a kind of Oriental rug. However, this type of rug is made only in Iran. Persian rugs are made specifically by skilled weavers of Iran, which previously was known as Persia. These artisans use a specific kind of single looping knot, which are not seen in other kinds of rugs. Turkish rug, for example, use double looping knots. This type of rug is mostly made of wool, but sometimes seen made out of cotton. Wool Persian rugs are commonly made out of camel hair wool, Manchester wool, and Kork Wool. If you are able to find a Persian rug made of silk, then you hit the jackpot. You should make sure that you give your rug excellent care and the type of care that it requires because what you have is rare and are less durable in comparison to rugs made of wool.
The question when buying or owning a rug is how to determine whether what you have is real or not. When buying a rug that is advertised as Persian, you may have to check the label that goes with it. If it is made from a country other than Iran, then what they are selling is not a real Persian rug. You may find rugs sold in the market made from Turkey, China, India, Afghanistan, Tibet or Nepal. But these rugs are not classified as Persian rugs, but Oriental rugs or area rugs.
Another indicator that a rug is Persian is its design and layout. They are specific to the country and is passed down from one generation to another for centuries. There are four common layout patterns that you will find in Persian rugs namely all-over layout, compartment layout, one-sided layout, and centered medallion layout. The motif found in Persian rugs may differ depending on the region where it is made.
Now that you know that difference between the two, you should be confident enough in buying your own Oriental or Persian rug. Always check the label that comes with the rug and check how it is made to make sure you are buying an authentic rug or now. A related article has been written on how to check the authenticity of a rug. You might want to read it as well.