All Tibetan Rugs are Not Created Equal

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It’s a price-conscious world. Nothing new about that, really. But as applies to many things in the world of products and services, the comparison is most accurate when it’s “apples to apples.” Looking at similar qualities, as much as possible.

Take Tibetan rugs, for example. A subject near and dear to my heart as I have a personal interest in what I look at as an art form even though there’s “production” involved. I’m not a weaver myself, obviously—although I have to admit I have a long-time desire to learn to weave, along with many other artisan interests in a variety of media.

The Details make the Difference!
For now, I’ll focus on a few details of construction. Even if you’re looking strictly at cost, these aspects can make a difference.

Knot count
This usually refers to ‘knots made per square inch.”  Typical knot counts are 50, 80, 100…and sometimes fewer or more, depending on the specific design,  materials and textures.

As with most items of high quality, construction is also a factor. For rugs by Silk Road Weaves, we have a  ‘take no shortcuts” approach. Find out more about the rug creation process in our 2-part slide show.

Two main weaving methods
cross-weaving is more secure and durable

  • The traditional Tibetan “cross-weaving” style is more exacting and takes more experience and time to do, and results in a much more durable rug.
  • “Uncrossed” weaving, faster and less durable result.

Wool is typically from New Zealand or the Himalayan mountains. There is a distinct difference in the look and feel of the end result. “Tibetan” rugs made in India or China usually use New Zealand wool and have a more flat-c0lor appearance unless they are artificially ‘aged’ in a chemical wash or with other methods. Rugs made with the long-fiber, high lanolin wool from sheep raised in the high altitude Himalayas have an inherently different look, a more naturally modulated color.

Design style
Some styles are based on a more traditionally “Tibetan” motif, but others often now a more “contemporary” look that fits well with many types of decor.

Who makes it?
Child labor is a huge issue in the rug industry.

GoodWeave is the major non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating child labor and increasing education and community care of weavers’ families. As members of GoodWeave, I and other rug design companies can guarantee with confidence that there’s no child labor in the rugs we offer.

Rugs from Silk Road Weaves are made only by the most experienced adult artisans.
This can have an effect on the cost of rugs in many cases. But even if there’s a slight increase you can be confident that you are also helping someone else at the same time as you are enjoying your rug in your own home. As with other GoodWeave members, a percentage of the cost of our rugs goes directly to ending child labor and improving the weavers’ quality of life. I like to call this quality of human connection “Human Green.”

In the variety of methods used for washing the rug after it’s woven, we always opt for the ‘soap and water’ method, as opposed to the chemical wash that can artificially ‘age’ the look of a rug and may even damage the fibers.

Washing "Loopy/Meandering" from Silk Road Weaves

Shown: LOOPY/Meandering, 100% Himalayan wool from Silk Road Weaves. 8'x10.' The next step is drying in the sun, then trimming and finishing. Fringes will be turned under and bound.

Tips for buying a rug
More about dyes, pile, knot count…and valuable suggestions about what to look for when you’re ready to invest in a rug…regardless of your budget.

Get the best possible, long-lasting value for your money.
It’s ultimately about the Human Connection, that lasts for generations.

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