Rugs of the World – Hamadan

Nestled in the foothills of the Alvand Mountains in Iran, Hamadan is one of the major weaving centers in the middle east.  Hamadan city is the capital of the Hamadan region, so when it comes to rugs, Hamadan is a very broad term.  There are a large number of smaller villages that surround the city of Hamadan, each has its own style of weaving, all are considered to be Hamadan rugs, but all are a little different and in their designs.  

Hamadan are generally coarsely woven using low knot counts, single wefting techniques, cotton foundations, and are woven with Turkish (or Symmetrical) knotting techniques.  These factors are the quickest and easiest way to identify if a rug is a Hamadan.  Also, Hamadan are tribal rugs, and like most tribal rugs, generally tend to use more geometric motifs.  This is a much less reliable identifier however as there are many notable exceptions.  More often than not, Hamadan use strong reds contrasted by deep blues set in geometric patterns.

 

 

Hamadan City – The quintessential rug from Hamadan uses a red medallion offset by a navy border and ivory secondary field.  On occasion, these rug will feature three medallions.  Two of one color and the center of another.  Despite being a major city, most Hamadan rugs are tribal and geometric in their motifs.  

 

 

 

Lillihan – South of Hamadan is the village of Lillihan.  Generally considered to be on the lower end of quality, most Lillihan use low knot counts, drab colors, and will often have design inconsistencies.  While certainly not the case for all rugs from this village, It is common that a weaver will start with one shade of a color, run out midway through the rug, and switch to another very different color.  Most Lillihan use simple repeating design motifs.

15-031120.jpg

 

 

Nehavand / Ushvan / Tuiserkand – Nehavad is a region, Ushvan and Tuiserkand are villages.  Rugs from this area have much in common with only subtle differences from one type to the next.  Typically very geometric in their motifs, what really set these apart from most Hamadan is their use of Black.  It is common that these rugs will use a primarily black field or medallion offset by strong reds and bright ivories.  Most often, rug of these types will use central medallions.

 

 

 

Hosienabad – Generally from villages to the southeast of Hamadan city, Hosienabad  often use the Herati pattern usually seen in the North Western parts of Iran.  This distinct design repeats through the field of the rug.  Most often, they are woven with red fields, though occasionally done in blue or ivory.  They can, but usually don’t have central medallion or motifs.

11-102041.jpg

 

 

Mehriban – North of the city of Hamadan is Mehriban.  Theser rugs are very floral and in fact use motifs most often associated with Sarouk, another major Persian weaving center.  However, the construction of Mehriban is distinctly hamadan, defining them as such.  Unlike most of the design mention in this article, Mehribhan uses very floral motifs.  Small disconnected groups of  flowers spread throughout the field of the rug.  

16-102748

 

 

These represent only a small handful of the different types of Hamadan one can find from Iran.  The patterns in these rugs are truly as diverse as the myriad of small villages they come from.  Thick, soft, and colorful, Hamadan rugs are a classic mainstay of Persian weaving in both the modern and old world.


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

How to hang your rug on the wall.

Rugs are art and great art hanging on your walls can give your space warmth and depth.  There are five main options to consider when it comes to hanging your rug.  Today, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

 

Option 1 – Carpet Tack Strip

IMG_8641

IMG_8644

 

This is a wooden strip with little nails that stick out of it at an angle.  The stripping is generally used to hold wall to wall carpeting to your floor.  It is very inexpensive and very effective at hanging many rugs.  You simply screw the strips into the studs of your wall.  For most rugs the total cost to hang your rug will be under $10.00  

This process usually works great unless you rug is very fine in which case it could potentially cause some damage.  If that’s something you are worried about, we recommend option #2.

 

Velcro

 

Option 2 – Sew Velcro stripping to the back of your rug

This is how many rugs are hung in museums. It is very effective and simple to hang. A strip of Velcro is sewn to a strip of canvas which is then attached to you rug. Then the opposing strip is attached to a 1×4 board which is screwed into the studs of your wall.  The total price will vary depending on the size and quality of your rug, generally anywhere from $30 to $50 per linear foot of stripping.

 

 

 

Option 3 – Have a sleeve sewn onto the back of the rug and use a rod to hang it

IMG_8658

The sleeve is made of canvas and hand sewn to the back to your rug.  You could pick up a rod from any home supply store or buy one specially designed for rugs.  This creates a very strong hold against your wall that will work for years.  Also, it leaves a decorative finish at the top of your rug giving it a little more of an accent.  The price for the sleeve is much like the Velcro, $30 to $50 per linear foot.  The cost of the rod will vary greatly depending on the size of your rug and the style of the rod.  

Clips

 

Option 4 – Hanging clips

Here at Serafian’s we generally recommend against this option as long term it can damage your rug.  We can however well you some simple metal clips which can be used to hang your rug over a 1×4 attached to your wall.  It is a simple process but with time, the rug will sag between the points where it is clipped.  On average, you can expect to pay around $2.00 to $5.00 per clip and will need 1 clip per foot on the rug.
Hanging Boards

Option 5 – Hanging Boards / Clamps

Similar to clips, but much safer for your rug are hanging boards or clamps.  In short, these are two decorative boards designed to be clamped together and hung.  The rug in squeezed in between them along the top.  This can add a decorative and unique look to the rug as the boards themselves can be shaped, carved, painted, or stained to add interest and depth to the rug.  Hanging boards can work very well for thinner weaving techniques used in Navajo or Kelim rugs, but aren’t always effective when it comes to thicker “Pile” weaving styles.  Prices for these can vary greatly.  Generally they run between $10 to $100 per linear foot.

When you are getting ready to hang your rug, take a little time to asses you desires and budget.  It is important to note that the prices we are quoting here are good general guidelines.  They can vary depending on locality and material availability.  Ultimately the right choice for hanging is up to you, the customer.

 


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n

By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

Hand woven rugs, a dying art form in a changing world

The one thing you can say with certainty about the world today is that it is changing so quickly that very little is truly certain. The last hundred years have seen significant changes in nearly every industry. Modernization happens fast and with it comes great benefit to our society. Unfortunately, this benefit is often coupled with the loss of skilled labor, hand crafted goods, and traditional techniques. As sad as we at Serafian’s are to say it, weaving is proving to be no exception to this.

Right now, the question is not “Will traditional hand-weaving die off?” so much as it is “When and how will hand-weaving die off?” In the last ten years alone, we have seen significant dropoff in production from China, Persia (Iran), and India. The internet has changed the game of retail in ways few could have predicted. The impact of globalization is being felt keenly by the weaving industry. War, politics, and economics have created vast changes and challenges and there is little doubt that weaving has been heavily impacted by these factors. By far, the biggest factor in this change is the blooming and modernizing economies of the Middle and Far East.

Woman working at the loom. Oriental Muslim national crafts. Focus on the fabric.
Hand weaving is one of the most time consuming and labor intensive art forms on the planet..

Economic realities change fast. This is doubly true for countries with emerging economies. As an art form, weaving is very time consuming. Rugs are built literally one knot at a time, each thoughtfully placed and tied in by hand. A large hand woven rug can easily take over a year to make. By contrast, that same rug may only ever command a top price of a few thousand dollars. When you take into account the markups of various retailers and wholesalers, for an entire year’s worth of work, a skilled weaver may end up taking home less than one thousand dollars. It becomes easy to see how in a burgeoning economy the job of weaving eventually makes less and less sense.

Dyed Wool - 02.jpg
Every step in the weaving process takes both time and skill.  Even the “simple” act of dyeing wool is an art form in and of itself.

On the other side of the coin, but equally devastating to the hand weaving industry, are machine woven rugs. A large machine woven rug can be finished in a matter of hours instead of months or years. A machine woven rug will easily cost a third or less the price of a similarly sized hand woven rug. While the quality is not the same, their rapid, repetitive, and commoditized production actually lends itself to our modern internet driven marketplace. This creates even further pressure on the hand weaving industry, forcing many weavers to look elsewhere for employment.

While it is difficult to predict exactly when hand weaving will die out, it is easy to see its end on the horizon. There aren’t many art forms out there that are as time consuming and labor intensive and weaving. With so much time and effort behind the weaving industry, modernization, simplification, and change become inevitable. While it will be sad to see these treasures of the middle East disappear, it is easy to understand the forces behind this change. Time keeps moving forward, the world keeps changing, and one thing that is certain certain is that the weaving industry will change with it.


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n

By Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

 

Know your fibers! – What to look for and be aware of when shopping for your ideal rug.

When you are looking to buy an oriental rug, is your first thought, “What material is this rug made out of?”. If not, it probably should be. For centuries, the standard has been to weave rugs out of wool or silk. Both of which are great fibers. Here at Serafian’s, we have seen how the industry has been changing in big ways. Over the course of these last years new fibers have found their way into the marketplace. In additional to wool and silk, we are seeing a lot more rugs made of both olefin and viscose.

Serafian's 2016
Knowing how long a fiber will last under traffic is an important questions when buying an oriental rug.

 

Wool and silk are by far the best fibers for rugs. Both wear incredibly well over time, insulate and protect your floor, and are even stain resistant on their own. Wool in particular has been has been the weaving standard for centuries. An average wool fiber has lanolin, the sheep’s natural oil, present in it. This helps to give the wool both body and pliability. A wool fiber can bend and flex hundreds of thousands of times over its life. This flexibility is key to its durability as a fiber. When properly cared for, good wool in a rug will last a century or more.

In the middle of the spectrum is olefin. Olefin is plastic that has been refined to look and feel like carpet fiber. The upside to this fiber is that is often comes from post consumer plastic, essentially recycled materials. The empty water and soda bottles that clog our rivers and oceans can be stretched, spun, dyed, and reused to make colorful decorative rugs for your floor. The downside is that it just doesn’t have the lifespan of good wool rugs. Where wool remains flexible for its whole life, olefin eventually begins to become stiff and will more readily start to break down. Where a wool rug will last a century or more, a good olefin rug is usually made to last 10 to 15 years. However, olefin rugs tend to be very inexpensive and while not as long lived as wool rugs, are generally a very good value for the money.

Lastly, at the bottom of our list, is viscose. Unfortunately, viscose fibers are a recent and very popular trend. Viscose is treated plant fiber that has chemically been made to look and feel like silk, but beware as this imposter is anything but! Silk is much more difficult to make in quantity and much higher in quality than viscose. Like wool, silk is a protein fiber that will last for years. By comparison, viscose breaks down quickly, losing its luster and plushness. This is due to the fact that plant fibers in general tend to lack the flexibility. Where protein fibers such as wool and silk will bend and flex, plant fibers such as cotton, jute, and viscose will much more quickly break down. This leads to an average life span that is much shorter.

Let the buyer beware. It is very common to see viscose rugs called silk by unscrupulous or even unknowing retailers, but there is a sure fire test to know which fiber you are looking at. Cut and take a small amount of the material in a set of pliers, burn it, and smell the smoke lifting off it. Viscose and similar cotton fibers smell like paper when burned where silk smells like burning hair. Where good wool and silk rugs can last for a century or more and olefin will last for a decade or two, I expect that most Viscose rugs will have an average life span of 5 to 10 years before real problems start to develop.

Two rugs on the floor
A Good wool rug can last for generations.  Olefin rugs will tend to wear out after ten to fifteen years and viscose rugs with likely wear our within five to ten.

For this reason, when you look to buy a good rug, it is always important to ask what it is woven with. Knowing what material your rug is made out of will quickly tell you a lot about its longevity. By no means is this the only factor in durability, but it is without a doubt the most important.


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n

By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

 

Rugs of the World – Kashan

When you think of rugs from the Mid East, what is the first image that pops into your head? For me, the image is magical flying carpets of legends and fairy tales. I picture Aladdin flying through the air on his magic carpet, the sprawling desert expanse unfolds below him as the horizon is dotted with the rooftops of ancient Persian castles and homes. It is a pretty fantastic visual, I know, but inextricably, I always picture him riding a specific type of rug, Kashan, one of the most classic Persian rug designs. One steeped in tradition from the city of its namesake.

In truth, Kashan is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is thought to be one of the primary centers of civilization in prehistoric times. During the 11th century Sultan Malik Shah I ordered the building of a fortress, Ghal’eh Jalali, that still stands. The Sialk ziggurat, a man made structure over 5,000 years old is nestled comfortably in the suburbs of the Kashan. Even the name of the city comes from it original inhabitants, known as Kasian, whose remains date back as far as 9000 years.

In more modern times, the city of Kashan has become a major center for textile production, and rugs are one of its leading exports. Since the city of Kashan is one of the main weaving centers in Iran and its design traditions date back well over a century, the patterns found in Kashan rugs are considered to be among the most classic of Persian designs. They are defined by flowing, connected floral motif. Long, rounded tendrils, known as Islimi, span the body of the rug. These draw ornate curves connecting groups of large flowers, known as Palmettes. Many Kashan rugs have a strong central medallion, usually oval in shape. Some, however, lack a central motif and opt for an “All Over” design.

As with most weaving centers, many different levels of quality come from the city of Kashan. However, a common trait among most Persian Kashan is the use of high grade materials. As such, Kashan rugs are generally woven to last for generations. Persian Kashan use specific and traditional colors sets. Red or Ivory fields are offset with Navy medallions and borders. This creates a striking pattern where the body of the rug is sharply framed in contrast to its border.

One of the more recent trends in weaving is for other countries to adopt the designs of Persian rugs. Weavers in India and China will often copy the Kashan motif, working these classic Persian structures into into their more modern and mass produced rugs. This is not to say that these rugs are always of lower quality, but they are different. Kashan patterned rugs from India or China are often woven using non traditional colors sets. Blacks, browns, golds, and even greens will usually distinguish these rugs from their true Persian counterparts.

Kashan - 02.JPG
Many rugs from both India and China copy the Persian Kashan design.  They are woven in different colors than their Persian counterparts, but are often just as high quality.

Whether you have a traditional Persian or copy from India or China, a good, hand woven Kashan is the type of rug that will last for generations. It is not uncommon at all for us here at Serafian’s to see such rugs come in for cleaning still looking good after a century’s worth of use. Steeped in tradition and classic motifs, Kashan rugs look great in nearly any space. Unfortunately, even with the best Kashan available in the marketplace, you probably won’t find yourself magically flying over ancient Persian ziggurats or expensive desert vistas, but you will have a little piece of Persian history in your home.


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n

By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

What’s Hot in Home Decor for 2017

Social media has changed the way we decide on what’s hot and what’s not. Ten years ago, fashion was what the industry told you it was. Today, fashion is what we, as a community, make it. In 2017 what’s trending is anything eclectic and rustic.

If there are “Looks” that can be called the forerunners of 2017, they would be Industrial Farmhouse, Rustic Americana, and once again Boho Chic. Each of these styles brings a unique mix of traditional, contemporary, and personal styles.

Boho Chic epitomizes personal style and choice. Rich with color, bold, and full of unique character, Boho Chic was the go-to fashion pick of 2016 and will remain big in 2017. Decor in a Boho Chic home springs up from a single focal design point, like a colorful rug, a bright and beautiful wall hanging or tapestry, or even a unique statuette. From there, the sky’s the limit. Bright and bold, jewel tones, flowing fabrics, and disparate design elements are at the heart of Boho Chic. If you love it, it works, that’s the bottom line. Fill your space with color and kitsch and you have achieved that Boho chic look.

Similar, but with it own distinct twist, is Rustic Americana. A more aged and classic look, Rustic Americana opts for a slightly more conservative and muted design approach. Painted wood furniture, rescued looks, and warm earth and wood tones form the basis of Rustic Americana. Think old and American. Don’t be afraid to let your inner patriot out a little when decorating with this theme. American flags can be hand painted onto nearly anything from dilapidated wooden furniture to old metal toolboxes. Quilted fabrics, aged wood colors and textures, hooked and braided rugs, and (of course) the stars and stripes really pull the look together. Much like with Boho Chic, a space can be brimming with unique and stylized pieces.

Then lastly is my personal favorite, Industrial Farmhouse. Much like Rustic Americana, this look combines aesthetic of reused items and the warm feel of wood and earth tones. However, it has an overall much cleaner look incorporating a lot of metal, white, and grey tones. As the name implies, this look uses a considerable amount of metal. The look uses mixes of metal and wood showing up in furniture, accent items and accessories, and even in unique spots, with items like paper towel and key holders. Brass, copper, and steel tones all work together to create a very distinct and clean, yet cozy feel. Stark white counter tops and couches are used alongside colorful accents. Simple and elegant rugs such as the Magnolia Home line from Joanna Gaines are used along side rich blue and rust pillows or throws with simple geometric patterns create depth and color.

With both Boho Chic and Rustic Americana, the look can be almost cluttered. Think of it as organized chaos. There is tremendous space to create and develop one’s own personal style. With Industrial Farmhouse, the look is more structured, but clean and inviting. The space can feel very relaxed and open while at the same time cozy. While the first two invite you to get lost in the eccentricities of the decor, the latter invites you into the room to kick up your feet, take a deep breath, and just relax.

In 2017, there’s a “hot” look for your home, whatever your personal aesthetic is. From eclectic and kitschy, to clean and comfortable, 2017 is going to be a great year for making your space beautiful, fun, and most importantly: you. Happy New Year!


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n

By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com