Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Persian rug? How do I know it is authentic rather than a “knock-off”?
  2. How can I tell it is a really good carpet?
  3. How do I clean my rug?
  4. What age classification is given to rugs?
  5. Are your rugs made with the use of child labor?
  6. I have pets and/or children and therefore need to wait to get a Persian rug?
  7. Why are your prices so low?
  8. How do I measure to make sure I am purchasing the correct size rug?
  9. Will my rug fade?
  10. What should I insure my rugs for?
  11. Do you have simple (modern/contemporary) designs?
  12. What do the symbols and colors mean in Persian rug motifs?
  13. Are antique rugs worth more than new rugs?
  14. How long does it take a person to make a Persian rug?
  15. What determines the value of a rug?

1. What is a Persian rug? How do I know it is authentic rather than a “knock-off”?

A Persian rug is hand-made in Iran, using superior materials, dyeing processes, and designs that have been used for thousands of years.

Over the past few decades, other countries such as India, Pakistan, and China have tried to copy the designs. The term “Oriental” carpets incorporates these other countries. However, only rugs made in Iran are true, Persian carpets.

2. How can I tell it is a really good carpet?

Machine vs. Hand-Made: Look at the back of the carpet. The machines make a uniform warp-and-weft grid that looks wholly different from the variations and slightly wavy warps and wefts of hand-knotted carpets.

The tighness of the weave and, again, looking at the back of the rug to make sure it is as clear a design on the back as it is on the front is another indication.

A Persian rug will have a label on it indicating its country of origin.

A master designer and weaver will sometimes sign their rug. Their signature, and sometimes the date, will be incorporated into design in the middle of the upper edge of the carpet.

3. How do I clean my rug?

Because of the tighness of the knot and the materials that are used, Persian rugs are virtually maintenance free. It is recommended that you use an electric sweeper to clean your woolen rug and, if you spill something on it, to clean it right away, using a mild detergent like Woolite.

Persian rugs can also be taken outside and hosed down and cleaned, again using a mild detergent and then hosing it down again to get the suds out. In addition to using a mild detergent, the important thing is to get the moisture out as quickly as possible, so using something like a Shop-Vac is recommended.

An experienced, professional cleaner can also be used, and is advisable for such carpet materials as silk, which is more delicate than wool, which is very durable.

4. What age classification is given to rugs?

Old = less than 50 years old

Semi-antique = 50-80 years old

Antique = Above 80 years old

5. Are your rugs made with the use of child labor?

No, we use only highly skilled adult weavers and artisans who work for a fair wage in Iran.

Since rug making is an important business in Iran, many people are involved in various processes including the raising and sheering of sheep, vegetal dyeing, and the actual making of rugs. One generation does teach the next generation how to do things, but Iranian children are not involved in these processes, only as observers.

Some other countries have copied original Iranian rug designs and these countries have set up sweat-shops in industrial settings for manufactured rugs. That is an issue for other countries, however, not where authentic, hand-made Persian rugs are made in Iran.

6. I have pets and/or children and therefore need to wait to get a Persian rug?

Woolen rugs are very durable and the pile/knots are so tightly woven that it is very difficult, if not impossible for dogs and cats to destroy them. The myth is that Persian rugs are delicate. Woolen rugs are not; however, silk rugs are.

One of our customers told us about how their cat tried to use its claws on the carpet, but gave up when it was unsuccessful because of the tightness of the weave. Another customer told us that her grandmother used to encourage her grandchildren to “go play on the Persian rug” because that was the only item in the house that could withstand their exuberance.

7. Why are your prices so low?

When he wanted to purchase authentic Persian rugs for his own home, the owner of Desert Rug Company was unable to find many rugs and, those that he could find had price tags put on them by rug dealers who were charging exorbitant prices. He vowed then to do everything he could to get as many authentic Persian rugs into American peoples' homes and to do so at as low a price as possible.

[For more information, See “Mission Statement,” “Center Daily Times article,” and “State College The Magazine” article.]

8. How do I measure to make sure I am purchasing the correct size rug?

Two mistakes that people often make are: to purchase a rug that ends up being too small for the space, and to not take into account chairs pulled away from the table when measuring for the dining room area.

When measuring, make sure you measure the largest the rug can be and also the smallest you want it to be.

9. Will my rug fade?

Part of the rug-making process by Iranians is the superior dying process and materials used to make Persian rugs. Before being made into rugs, the yarn is washed several times, and, upon completion of the carpet, that same multiple-washing technique is employed. This is done to secure the color and to keep it from running. While it is unlikely a Persian rug will fade much, if at all, one will notice that their rugs will age gracefully. The term “abrash” is used to suggest the slightly uneven hues characteristic of natural dyes. The term itself is an Arabic word for dappled, and it is caused by factors including slight differences in how wool batches and dyes interact. Much time and care is taken to make colors meld together nicely. The mellowing of color is a much sought-after quality of antique carpets. One will not see fading in a Persian rug like they will in rugs of inferior quality.

10. What should I insure my rugs for?

Desert Rug Company is able to offer rugs at the lowest prices available or we will refund the difference to you. As far as insurance goes, you can insure your rugs for the price you paid or for what you would have paid if you had bought them from another company. Replacement cost is generally what people insure their possessions for, and that is what we recommend.

11. Do you have simple (modern/contemporary) designs?

Yes, we do. Various regions have different designs, with some areas having designs reminiscent of American Indian rugs.

12. What do the symbols and colors mean in Persian rug motifs?

A Persian carpet—like a song—has a rhythm, cadence, and tone. Just like there is no one way to sing a song, there is no right way to see a carpet. The person who made the rug might have observed things in nature or their imagination or surroundings that she or he then conveys in the rug's design. Often we do not know the intent behind some of the designs because we do not know who the rug-make is and, therefore, we are left to enjoy and interpret it ourselves.

Some symbols and possible interpretations include:

  • Camel - wealth, prosperity
  • Cypress Tree - strength, endurance
  • Tree of Life - eternity--path from earth to heaven
  • Chicken, Rooster - dawn of a new day, fresh start, sexual prowess
  • Bird - paradise, faith
  • Star - spirituality, good luck
  • Carnation - happiness
  • Pomegranate - abundance, fertility
  • Paisley design - flame, universe
  • Jug - purification

13. Are antique rugs worth more than new rugs?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some people like the muted tones that antique rugs offer.

One should be aware, though, that some countries create what looks like antique rugs, but they really are not. They are created that way by chemically treating the rug, therefore stripping the rug of its original color. While that creates a muted tone that some people like, it also greatly diminishes the longevity of the rug and, within a brief period of time, holes appear throughout the rug because the rug, quite literally, disintigrates.

Rugs made in Iran are not compromised. Rug makers there retain the traditional way of making rugs, using the finest materials and methods to create Persian rugs. Authentic Persian rugs will retain their shape, color, and design for 80+ years, if properly cared for. Care is minimal. (See section on rug care and cleaning.)

14. How long does it take a person to make a Persian rug?

All authentic Persian rugs are hand made; none are machine made. For a small 3′ x 5′ rug, it might take a person several months to make that rug. Medium-sized rugs (5′ x 8′) can take a person or people up to a year to complete. Very large rugs (10′ x 20′) might take a group of people years to finish it, and larger silk rugs, which often have up to 1,000 knots or more per square inch can take a person a lifetime to complete.

15. What determines the value of a rug?

Hand-made rugs are more valuable than machine-made rugs. The back of the rug will help a person determine if it is hand-made or machine-made. A hand-made rug has the same, vibrant design as the front of the rug.

Knot count: the more knots per square inch, the more valuable the rug.

Design: the more intricate the design, the more valuable the rug.

Materials: silk is the most expensive material used, and the very nature of that natural material requires the rug maker(s) to create a rug with a high number of knots per square inch (1,000/Square Inch or more) than other rugs. Because of the materials used and the time to construct these rugs—often a year or a person's lifetime—silk rugs are often the most expensive rugs on the market.

Wool is the most common material used in Persian rugs. Persian wool is arguably the best in the world. It is lustrous and superior.

Antique rugs are often more expensive than newer rugs, but that is because of market demand and not because they are actually better.