You may think that your Persian rug is an authentic handmade specimen, however, it is very difficult to tell. Modern machine made carpets look and feel very similar to the genuine article. So how can you tell if your carpet is the real deal or not?
Synthetic Or Wool
Some people think coloured Persian rugs are made from wool whereas machine made rugs are fabricated using synthetic fibers, but this is not always true. Today, many Persian carpet weavers will use synthetic materials to craft their rugs while machine made rugs can be made using wool. Therefore, the material used is no indicator as to whether your rug was made by hand or not. If you are interested in finding out whether your carpet is actually made from wool, you can pull a small strand from the carpet and burn it. If it produces a smell similar to burning hair, then it is a genuine wool carpet. One way that you can test the quality of the wool is to vacuum both sides of the carpet and then rub your hand vigorously over the surface of the carpet. Roll the shed fibers in your hand and then check to see how thick they are. If they are just as thick or even thicker than the rug itself, it does not necessarily mean that the rug was made using a machine, but it does indicate that it is of inferior quality.
The thickness of a rug is also not a good indicator of whether a rug was machine or handmade. However, a higher quality rug will have been sheered correctly to the right height to show off the design to its best advantage.
The Back Of The Rug
It has long been said that a good quality rug looks as good from the back as from the front. There is some truth in this, however, it is not always as clear as that. Some weavers use different techniques to form the knots and often this can leave a visible weft on the rear of the rug. This does not mean, however, that the knots have not been tightly formed. Also, fibers may work loose from the knots, and if the weaver has not used the burning off technique to make the back appear neater, then the underside of the rug will look fuzzy. This, again, does not indicate that the knots have not been tied tightly. Machines are unable to produce knots, and therefore in a machine made rug, the underside will have fibers that have been fixed with latex resulting in a rough feel.
Knots Per Square Inch
Although it is said that the higher the kpsi, the better the rug, this is not true if the wool is of a poor quality.
The only true way to determine if a Persian rug is handmade is to ask the salesperson to produce its Certificate of Authenticity.