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What would you like to know about antique rugs?

We at Rahmanan are working to give you the best possible experience in shopping for your antique rug. We understand that many people have questions or concerns when buying an antique for their floor, and have a yearning to know more about the processes and people who were involved in the craft of these pieces. We would love to answer any questions you may have, as well as educate our customers more about the wonderful world of antique rugs. We would like to provide the ultimate purchasing experience for our clients, so if there are any topics you would be interested in knowing more about, please let us know.

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Rug Classifications

The first thing that most people want to understand about rugs is how to classify them. There are a number of ways to do this.

  • One could classify rugs by general rug type:
    a. Tribal Weavings
    b. Cottage Rugs
    c. Workshop Rugs
  • One could classify rugs by the style they portray:
    a. Tribal, or geometric, weavings.
    b. Decorative, or casual, rugs.
    c. City, or formal, rugs.
  • From there, a more specific classification comes into play, where the rug is from:
    The Caucuses
  • After pinpointing where a rug is from, it can further be categorized by weave type and color to a distinct area within the countries of origin. Here is a list of most types of rugs:
  • Persian Rugs:

Kashan – Dabir
Kashan – Mohtasham
Kerman – Lavar
Malayer – Mishan
Mashad – Sabeer
Mood (NE Persian)
NW Persian
Sarouk – Farahan
Sarouk – Mohajeran
Sultanabad – Ziegler
Tabriz – Haji Jalili

  • Turkish Rugs:
    Oushak – Angora
    Oushak – Borlou
  • Indian Rugs:


  • Caucasian:
  • European:
    Arraiolos Needlework
    English Art Deco
    German – Bauhaus
    Spanish – Cuenca
  • American:
    American Hooked Rugs
    Braided Rug
    Rag Rug
  • Chinese:
    Art Deco
    Ning Xia
  • Turkoman:
  • Other:
    Bezalel – Palestine
  • All of the above:

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Oriental Influence on European Rugs

Antique rugs were once new production. About 80 – 90 years ago, carpets from the orient were sold at extremely high prices throughout Europe. European manufacturers saw the need to produce such products at lower costs, causing a sweep of production through Europe in places such as Donegal and Axminster.
This is the reason that some Donegal rugs can be found with Turkish Oushak patterns. While the need to produce a product for cheaper dominated the “where” of the production, there was still a desire for the cultural feel of an oriental rug. On top of being less expensive to make, there was also more control over how the product was made.

“German” Condition

Sometimes in the antique rug industry, you will come across a client who is looking for a rug in “German” Condition (Generally, this will be a European client). What this means is that they are looking for a rug that is in perfect condition, with an un-used look. The phrase comes from the fact that rugs in Europe just don’t age the same as those in America. In many European nations, the antique rug is revered. They are placed in show rooms where they are generally un-touched. The rugs in these types of settings age very well. Their color is strong, their pile full, and are without stains or spills. In many instances one cannot even tell that rugs in such perfect condition are antique at all.
For most Americans, however, this is a turn off. Generally, an American client desires that patina that comes with a used antique rug. It is a look, or feeling, that is telling of the rugs age and history.
The way that antique rugs are used and stored can greatly affect what market they will be sellable in. Rugs which have been kept pristine and new looking will be more valuable to the European market, while rugs that show age and use tend to be more desired in the American market.

#19647 Khotan | As Seen in Rooms With a View

Rug #: 19647

Type: Khotan

Origin: China

Size: 4’8″ x 7’7″

Circa: 1920

When George Marshall Peters of Pamela Bankers office asked if we would be interested in participating in their Rooms  With a View show space we were delighted. The vignette that George had planned out was influenced by a recent trip to Asia, and included a piece of art from his own collection. The painting contained delicate cranes upon a golden ground, with a rice paper feel, which strongly influenced the rest of the design–and screamed to be accompanied by a soft toned Asian carpet.

With a small (approximately 8′ square) floorplan, wallpaper samples, photos of the furniture, and the feeling of the central art piece in mind, George and I began our search.Though we pulled a few other options out that could have worked, it was clear that a warm, traditional Chinese piece was the best way to go for the space he imagined.

Photo via MANUFOTO

While George had originally nixed this Khotan as an option due to it’s size, Ramin and I knew it was a great match for the look he was going for.  Many designers will rule out perfectly fitted rugs based on architectural lines drawn on paper, rather than trying the rug in the space.  Upon sight of this carpet though, George agreed to see if it would fit, without making the room feel cramped.

Photo via MANUFOTO

Though the Khotan does fit wall to wall, the vignette was a huge success, each element falling into place beautifully – the carpet really completing the conversation between the other components of the room.  The golden neutral tones of the rug were woven in beautifully with the naturally textured wallpaper and golden collectables placed about, the earthy browns complimenting the darkness of the floor and furniture, and the subtle geometry pulling in the small geometric art elements that George used in perfecting the details of this space.


#20231 Indian Agra: circa 1850

Agra Carpet
Northern India
8’0” x 10’0”
Circa 1850


Warp: cotton, white, natural, Z-6 to 8-S
Weft:    cotton, white, natural, Z-3-S, Z-4-S, Z-5-S
2 shoots of weft alternating either 1 straight and 1 wavy, or both shoots straight.
Knots: wool, Z-2
Either Persia (asymmetrical) knots open left, horizontal.  15 x vertical 13 = 195/in².
Persian (asymmetrical) jufti knots, open left, horizontal.  7.5 x vertical 13 = 98/in².
Alternate warps depressed 80-90°
Finishes: not original


This carpet is an excellent mid 19th century interpretation of a classical c.1600 Indo-Isfahan in the iconic in-and-out palmette and cloudband pattern, on a claret red lac ground.  The pattern is not centered and the actual vertical axis of the design is displaced approximately 9” to the right.  In a larger carpet it would be exactly centered, but it should be noted that even period rugs in this pattern may have design offsets.  The ability to shift the pattern indicates the use of a cartoon or a talim (a coded pattern book “read” out loud by a “talim reader”).

The border also follows the classical manner closely with an in-and-out palmette and thin vine design on a nicely abrashed sapphire blue ground.  The inner directional arrow head border also is consistent with the classical model.

The detail colors of blue-green, orange-ochre, tan, dark brown and buff are also traditional.

It is still an open question as to whether the classical prototypes are Persian (Isfahan) or Indian (Agra), but only Agra carpets of the 19th century carry on the design tradition virtually unchanged, although the long and narrow 17th century format has been replaced by more Western proportions.  Many Agra carpets, often of exceptional size, were woven by inmates of the local jail, but this is more likely to be a regular creation of fine quality by a local merchant.

The Jufti knots occur in areas of plain color and in irregular patches overall.  They may be seen both on the front and back of the rug.  The use of Jufti knots, allowing for quicker execution, seems to have appeared in Agra around 1800 and is an import from Khorossan in NE Persia where it is the standard knotting technique.  Although the weaving quality of jufti-knotted carpets in often severely compromised if their overall wool quality is low, their carpet is piled in excellent quality wool and the knots are closely packed.  As a result, it has aged well and is still in fine condition.  It is a decorative carpet with no elements of later design trends or tastes.

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Flemmish Tapestry #20440: circa 1700

Tapestry, Flemish, probably Brussels, depicting a scene from the Story of Tobias.

Late 17th Century

7’ 2” x 10’ 2” (originally approximately 10-10’ 6” x 12’ 6”- 13”)

No weaver’s on town mark.

Rebordered in plain stripes; slightly reduced from larger piece.


Warp: wool, beige, natural, Z-2-S, 11-12 warps/in

Pattern Wefts:

  1. wool, Z-1
  2. silk, golden-beige only, not original, several restoration campaigns.

Weft density: wool, 21-25 facing wefts (42-50 overall) /inch.

Subject: Tobias and the archangel Rafael.

The iconographic source is the Apocryphal Book of Tobit (O.T.). The present panel displays vigorous, almost life size figures of Tobias, son of Tobit and his escort Rafael in the guise of Azarias, and accompanied by his faithful dog. Tobias and the Angel are in semi-classical garb, thus placing the action in an ancient or mythical past. Further, Tobias is dressed as a hunter with spear and bow, but lacks quiver and arrows.  His dog is a hunting hound. The garments of both protagonists are wind blown, thus indicating rapid forward movement.

The iconography of Tobias varies in Western art, but here he is a young man with a blonde mustache, not the boy as is frequent in this tale. The angel is androgynous (the pearl earring) and lacks any angelic attributes. The wings are mimicked by the windblown drapery. They will only be revealed later. The figures pass through a pure, wooded landscape with no buildings or people visible in the small views through the forest. There is a variety of small flowering plants in the lower foreground.

This panel comes from a set of at least four (or probably six) tapestries which may have included some of the following scenes:

  1. The blinding of old Tobit, Tobias’s father, from bird droppings in his eyes.
  2. Tobias taking leave of his father in order to travel to Rhages to collect a debt before the old man’s demise;
  3. Tobias and the angel en route to Rhages – our panel;
  4. Tobias at the bank of the Tigris river catching the giant fish which has attacked him. The Angel informs him that certain innards of the fish will be useful and in particular, that the intestines or gall bladder will cure his father’s blindness;
  5. Tobias applying the piscine entrails to his father’s eyes;
  6. The Archangel, after having revealed himself, taking leave of the house of Tobias after the cure;
  7. Tobias meeting or betrothing Sara, she of many husbands;
  8. Tobias and Sara in prayer.

Because of the Tobias-Sara connection, these tapestry sets were popular in Europe in the upper classes as marriage gifts from the 16th century onwards. A six piece set, late 17th century of either Brussels or Dutch origin covered the walls of the Stadtholder of Friesland in his mansion in Leeuwarden.

Although the series was often a marriage present, there are a few sets surviving, Gobel (Wandteppichie, v.I) and Tapestry in the Baroque MMA 2008), do not illustrate or mention specific Flemish Tobias story series or panels.

Condition: although slightly reduced and rebordered, this piece is not a fragment of a much larger panel. There is some rewefting in the wool areas and a few small reweaves. The overall condition is good with strong colors across the entire palette, the reds and yellows have held up well. The silk areas which have been replaced are discreet and not light or “hot” as is the case with many injudicious restorations.

In general, the tapestry is very attractive with large, lively figures and clear colors, it is extremely decorative in the best sense.