You may have purchased a rug recently that you were told was an oriental rug. If you’re knowledgeable about rugs, you probably have certain ways of verifying that it is indeed that.
First of all, let’s start with the technical definition…
An area rug is a piece of carpet that’s not attached to the wall. An Oriental rug is a type of area rug.
It must be made out of natural materials such as wool, silk, cotton, camel hair, or other natural materials, or a combination of some of these materials.
It must also be completely handmade.
No part of the rug can be machine- made, nor can it contain chemicals or synthetics of any kind.
So this rules out the common and moderately-priced “hand tufted in India or China” rugs that we commonly see – these look sort of like Oriental rugs except for one thing – the backing is covered with a cloth.
These rugs can be useful for filling up a lot of square feet for a lower price – however they do typically have a musty, rubbery smell which comes from the inside because they contain latex and other chemicals. This is all hidden by that backing cloth.
Sometimes people think that these “hand tufted wool” rugs are Oriental rugs because they have a Persian or Chinese pattern on the surface. Also, the label on the back typically says “100% hand-tufted Wool.” Don’t be fooled! Yes it was put together by hand, but using a combination of natural and synthetic materials.
Also, many rugs made out of recycled plastics such as “olefin” (which is the same as heat-set poly propylene ) have a Persian rug or other oriental rug pattern on the surface, and people are led to believe that they are oriental rugs. They are not. They are very cheap in comparison.