The difference between a hand crafted rug and a piece of carpet is that one goes to the tip when you are finished with it and the other is kept as a heirloom piece.Hand crafted rugs are like paintings except you can walk on them. It displays the artists vision of a perfect scene be it in paradise, a desert, a hunting meet,or an Arabesque (dancing of the flowers). Hand made rugs are a glorified version as opposed to a hand crafted piece which means that from conception to completion it is hand done. Hand made rugs are made in a factory and tend to have cotton weft. In a factory the weaver is protected from all of the elements he may otherwise encounter in the outside world.
To the untrained eye or novice it is not immediately apparent determining the quality of a Persian Rug. From our point of view we always tell our clients to turn the rug over and look at the back side of the rug..it will normally reveal more about the rug than the front. It is more apparent from the back side if it is machine made. It is also easier to detect repairs in the rug, which is not necessarily a negative as it is more likely to be an older rug and also definitely a hand woven rug. Certainly purchasing a Persian rug, carpet, or kilim, or Afghan Tribal rugs or kilims, from a reputable dealer is a big step in the right direction.
One of the most important things to accept is that there is NEVER a mistake purchase of a hand crafted rug. They all have more than sentimental value as they will over time not just give pleasure but be an asset. Considering all of the items we buy for our homes and the costs of them, a hand crafted rug will give you more value over time than most things which ends up in a tip or given away as unnecessary. So once you accept that you cannot make a mistake of buying a hand crafted rug you can start to spend the time to see what is best for you both in terms of value and design. primarily there are two kinds of designs in the traditional oriental rugs. There is the geometric design (almost all tribal ranges) or the central medallion design, dominated by the Persian or Iranian rugs. Some things to keep in mind are very simple. No tribal rugs will ever have a cotton base or have anything cotton. They do not have the luxury of water and generally woven by the nomads. Even now when some are made in refugee camps, they are still not woven with cotton in any form. The other is the almost non adherence to market needs. Sizes, colors, patterns are simply made to suit their considerations and not YOURS. It's a form of artistic license. They will also always be imperfect. Hand made from a factory or a city base weaver will be the opposite, they will have no excuse to be imperfect.
If there are budgetary considerations, then keep this in mind when buying a rug for the dining table or the living room. Do not compromise on runners. These are rugs which will always be walked upon and unavoidable as opposed to those under the dining table or coffee table. Over the years I have found that the best way to buy a rug after all rational considerations have been taken of size and price is to go with the HEART and not the mind. Purchasers with the heart seems to be enduring as oppose to those made with the mind. Having been in this industry for over 30 years most returning clients are those who have bought with their minds.
Once you have carefully evaluated all these points above it becomes much easier and not as daunting as it might be at first. Choose a reputable dealer, prepare to visit them with your measurements. This means the size of the room and not just the area you wish to cover. Often you will like one that is far bigger or smaller, so best to have the room size with you. Bring along with you a cushion or fabric if you are pedantic about such things. Otherwise go with your measurements and an open heart and the Universe will lead you to your rug. Remember the rug chooses you and do not for one moment think otherwise. Negotiations are almost mandatory with rug dealers unless of course they are purchased from your ex-partner. Best deals are always when both parties are happy. If there is no bliss and gaiety in the transaction the rug will remind you eternally of your dissatisfaction. So make certain if you want to have a piece that reminds you constantly of your transaction, find a dealer that is capable of bringing you joy with the purchase. It's a reminder that when you buy a rug, you buy a story. This is known and accepted in the trade.
Finally remember the words of Rumi...." A house without a rug, is a house with no soul"..and a piece that touches you will have been
"woven with the heart and spun with the soul."................. Wishing you Bliss and Abundance and may they be your companions on your journey to bring home a piece of magic as well as warmth for your abode...