The makings of an oriental rug

Basic Weaving technique of any Oriental rug

The weaving of any oriental rug shares the fundamental methods. The warp threads are attached to the upper and lower beams of a loom. 

A strand of coloured wool or silk is knotted around a pair of warp threads repeatedly across the width of the loom. The loose ends of the knots make up the pile depth of the rug and form the colour of the body. After the rows of knots have been completed, a weft thread is run horizontally through the carpet to secure the knots in place. For flat weaves, such as kilim, there colourful weft threads through warp thread in order to create a design. 


Looms are the foundation tools for weaving any rug. There are two basic types of looms, horizontal and vertical looms. The nomads often use a horizontal loom sits close to the ground. Horizontal loom is held in place by large stakes driven into the ground, which makes it difficult to maintain an even warp tension and results irregularities in rugs. Which is a trait that many, including myself, adore in nomadic pieces. 

Vertical looms, which can stand upright, are used by city weavers (professional or master workshop weavers). The simplest vertical loom creates rugs the same size as the distance between the upper and lower beams. This is found in some weaving villages. A detachable plank is raised as the weaver progresses, so the weaver is always in front of the area that she is working. Tabors looms are much more complicated as it allow warp threads to form a continuous loop around the upper and lower beams. As the rug is woven, it is lowered around the lower beam and up the back of the loom. There is the even more sophisticated ‘roller beam’ loom. As the name suggest, this loom allows the rug to roll forever and can create any length rugs. The complicated looms allow two or more weavers to work simultaneously. 

Wool preparation 

Preparing the wool is no easy task. Weavers often stop half way through the weaving process to sheer, prepare and spin more wool, which results in the most amazing ‘abashes’ on these handmade rugs. Abash is caused by different year’s wool’s ability to absorb and hold onto colour. Abash is more common in nomadic pieces, where the weaver had to stop to gather more wool, which may well be from the following year’s sheering. It may take the weaver more than three years to finish a small pieces as her other mother tasks interfere with the weaving. Master workshop pieces, ones with access to unlimited wool, tend to be abashed free. 

After a sheep is shorn, the wool must be washed, dried and sorted. The wool is then combed. Combing is to align the fibres to create a strong yarn when spun. Finally, carding is accomplished by brushing the wool with two wooden paddles (called cards) with slanted metal teeth to brush the biers till they are soft, untangled and fuzzy. 

Wool spinning draws out the fibres and twist them together, by hand or by machine, to form a strand of yarn; two or more strands twisted together to form a ‘plied yarn’.  Hand spinning is performed using a spindle. Machine spinning requires a spinning wheel. Yarn must be twisted in one direction, either clockwise or anticlockwise. For the best yarn, the strands should be plied in the opposite direction from which they are spun. 

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