If you are thinking about buying a hand-woven Persian or Oriental rug, you may be unsure about what kind of rug to purchase. Should you buy one made of silk or made of wool? Here are a few things to keep in mind about each of these materials as you make your decision.
Silk is more valuable than wool, and so hand-made Persian rugs made of silk can be quite a bit more expensive than those made from wool.
Silk rugs have more of a shine to them. Wool, on the other hand, is more subdued, has a more flat appearance. Wool rugs do not stand out as much as silk rugs. But both types of rugs come in many different designs and colors and textures.
The design of silk rugs is usually more intricate than it is on wool rugs. That is because silk, being a finer material, allows more knots per square inch than other types of rugs. So, you get a design that is more defined.
A Qum silk Persian rug.
Wool rugs generally have about 100 to 300 knots per square inch. A rug made completely of silk, on the other hand, would generally have about 300 to 600 knots per square inch. Because there are more knots, it usually takes three or four times as long to weave a silk rug, making a more intricate pattern. As a result, the price is usually three to four times a wool rug.
Some silk rugs can have up to 1,000 knots per square inch, but these are rare.
Wool rugs hold up better than silk rugs over time because the material is not as delicate as silk. Plus, wool rugs handle spills and stains better. You can pretty much put them anywhere in the house because they can bear the foot traffic.
Silk rugs, however, are another story. They are more delicate, and so you need to be careful where you put them. They should not be used in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic. You can also see the dirt on them much more easily than with wool rugs. They are more often used as wall hangings than on the floor.
Silk is also not quite as strong as wool. Wool is very strong – you can fold it up to 20,000 times before it will break. Silk will last about 8,000 folds. However, silk rugs do retain their shape better than wool. Also, silk does not rot to the degree of cotton, which is used as a foundation for many wool rugs. As a result, many of the world’s oldest rugs are silk.
We have many fine, hand-knotted wool and silk rugs here in our Behnam Rugs’ Dallas showroom soon. Call us at 972-733-0400 to learn more about these textile works of art.
Image by Keyvan, Treasure Gallery Inc (Treasure Gallery Inc) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL],via Wikimedia Commons.