What would 30 centuries of intrigue, history and tradition look like? Imagine patterns and colors filled with symbolism, folklore, and tribal culture. Imagine exotic treasures passed down from family to family and village to village. Oriental rugs are such treasures that capture the skill of weavers who had stories to tell. Even the skill of weaving, itself, is a valued heirloom.

Today, “Oriental rug” is a catch-all term referring to rugs knotted in Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and Nepal. They are given names like Oushak, Tabriz and Sarouk after the areas from where their designs originated long ago.

Persian rugs are historically considered the finest of all Oriental rugs and are distinguished by their intricate curvilinear designs and superior wool, silk and dyes. Indian rugs are thought less valuable in terms of monetary investment because of their drier, thinner wool. Flatly woven rugs, usually pastel in color, are called “Dhurries.”

Pakistani rugs can be impressive versions of Persian designs. New pieces sometimes go through an antiquing process that gives them a welcomed timely look. However, others can be thinly woven with a knotting scheme that distorts the designs.

Turkish rugs are some of the finest rugs on the market today. This was not the case 15 years ago when coarser wool, primary colors and simple geometric designs were used. Turkey makes a wool rug called a “Kilim,” which is similar to the Dhurrie. Chinese rugs are recognized by their deep piles, center medallions, open backgrounds, large borders and soft colors.

Tibetan rugs are different from their Oriental counterparts. Since 1980, they have typically been made in Nepal, designed by Nepalese or Tibetan businessmen or Western designers, and their patterns do not originate or relate to any particular provenance. Tibetan rugs are very desirable because of their luxuriously thick pile — Himalayan sheep produce dense wool with an abundance of lanolin because of the altitude. Many Tibetan rugs also incorporate New Zealand wool, which is thought to be the best in the world.

Endless Knot is a Bay Area importer, national distributor, and designer of handcrafted Tibetan rugs. For more than 35 years, owner and founder Steve Laska has enjoyed an exclusive relationship with his Tibetan manufacturer in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Endless Knot is known for its sophisticated color palette, intriguing designs, and superb craftsmanship. As an interior designer, I’ve especially appreciated its custom rug program that has enabled me to elevate my work. This program allows me to specify a rug’s size, color scheme, and style that perfectly and specifically suits a client’s space. And, because each rug is unique and made with exceptional skill and wool, I’m able to deliver a true piece of original art.

Endless Knot rugs are made on upright wooden looms using the centuries-old Senneh knot, also known as the double knot, asymmetrical knot, or Persian knot. Designs are created with 60, 80 or 100 knots per square inch and sometimes with a blend of silk.

I’ve also had the good fortune of knowing Kambiz Jalili, whose roots in the rug industry go back 135 years in Marand, Iran. Over the years, Mr. Jalili has taught me a few things about Persian rugs.

For instance, when considering a handwoven rug, ensure the authenticity of its label. If you don’t have a trusted expert to rely on, look at the fringe, knots and dimensions.

The fringe on hand-knotted rugs should be the extension of the warp, not sewn onto the ends. Gray fringe may indicate recycled cotton. The rows of knots should be irregular and the size will not be as precise as a machine-made rug. Even if a rug is taken off its loom measuring an exact 6 feet by 9 feet, for example, its size will change after being washed and sun-dried.

A few more tips:

The price of a rug is based on country of origin, quality of fiber, intricacy of design, size, age, condition and knot-count.

Look at a rug on the floor, not hanging from a wall. Look from both directions to see how the color changes.

When furnishing an empty room, start with the rug as it will outlast other furnishing trends. Its placement will also define whether the space is a conversation area, an entry, or a traffic path.

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It’s better to have an oversized rug that looks grand than an undersized one that looks like a postage stamp.

Unless making an intentional design statement, the predominant color in the rug should not be the same predominant color in the room.

A neutral room can handle a bold rug.

Note whether a center medallion will be lost under a coffee or dining table.

Rugs are like art and, therefore, no two should be the same.

Proper care of a well-chosen rug is an investment that can increase in value over time.

To see dozens of Tibetan designs and how Endless Knot rugs are made, visit EndlessKnotRugs.com.

Patti L Cowger is a Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com; call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net. Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday.

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