Décor & Gardening
Oriental rugs are carpets hand-knotted in Asia, Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Tibet and Nepal, while Persian ones are made only in Iran (formerly Persia). Rugs are generally named after the village, town or district where they are woven or collected, or by the weaving tribe in the case of nomadic pieces.
The natural dyes in an Oriental carpet are derived from plant materials and insects such as indigo, madder, oak, sumac, pomegranate, cochineal and larkspur. Before the 1870s, they were the only source used to dye wool. Since the invention of synthetic dyes, there has been much debate about which type produces a more beautiful and investment-worthy rug. Natural dyes tend to gently fade with time and therefore produce a much sought-after patina.
Most buyers know about “counting knots” to judge if a rug is of a high quality, but the simple counting of knots is not a true test, but rather a guideline. The actual knot count needs to take into consideration the material used in the individual rug, as a silk one will have a higher count than one woven from thick wool.
A buyer needs to take into account the entire carpet, the design, the dyes, the material used, as well as the emotional value they receive from a rug. If you buy from a reputable dealer, however, the only thing you need to worry about is how much you love the carpet and whether you can afford it.
How to look after your rug
An Oriental carpet is subjected to all kinds of damage-inducing experiences. It gets walked over, placed under heavy furniture, eaten by moths, rolled on and scratched by pets and are often on the receiving end of spills. You can extend its lifespan if you:
• Remove your shoes before walking on it
• Use proper padding underneath the carpet
• Vacuum both sides as often as possible, in the direction of the pile
• Tend to repairs as soon as possible
• Keep an eye on your pets and discourage them from chewing or sharpening their claws on your prized possession
• Rotate your floor coverings to prevent uneven wear
• Don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean or bleach the carpet or frays as it weakens the natural fibre over time
• Keep your carpets away from sunny spots
• Don’t tug or pull on the corners with brute force when you need to move it
• Before storing a carpet, clean and dry thoroughly, treat with insecticide and wrap it up in strong plastic (check it periodically for insect and rodent damage).
In a nutshell, you should vacuum your rug often and turn it end-for-end once in a while. Although many kinds of damage can be repaired, prevention is much easier (and cheaper) than repair, so avoid placing potted plants on the rug, and keep an eye on your pets. Inspect it periodically for signs of wear or damage. Have it cleaned only when it really is dirty. When you see something wrong with your carpet that is beyond your ability to rectify, don’t hesitate to call a professional for advice. With just a bit of care your Oriental rug will provide you with many years of pleasure and pride.
Call in help
While regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your rug looking good, there may come a time when you need help. Vinolia Matsebula did repairs and Wiseman Mavimbela cleaned carpets while working for Ottoman Oriental Carpets at Casterbridge outside White River. When the business relocated to Cape Town, the two colleagues were left with specialised skills but nowhere to practise them.
The duo has subsequently been taken under the wing of Debbie Schlosser, who lives on the Yaverland Road outside White River. She has no interest other than trying to help them find their feet and encourages independence.
Vinolia works from a loom she made herself and weaves new tassels (if required), top sews, mends pile and renews the basic structure of carpets. Wiseman does the painstaking task of cleaning carpets, literally working centimetre by centimetre with a sponge.
Between them, they have a vast knowledge of carpets and their care and are able to offer advice. Debbie has created space for them at her home to work from, but they are also able to do house calls and work from a client’s home.
Get in touch
To find out more or to get a quote, contact Debbie on 082-444-4647