Call 877-817-0246 Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm 

Woven Legends and the Rug Renaissance

Posted on October 30, 2012 by Susan Brouwer

Harald Bohmer, who launched a rug renaissance in the 1980s with the introduction of natural dyes to modern rugs, was a German student who studied in Turkey. He fell in love with the country, and his interest in rugs and dyes became a passion. When he learned of a method for analyzing the dyes in fabrics (thin-layer chromatography), he began a methodical investigation into the dyes in Turkish rugs. He learned what natural dyestuffs rugmakers had used 100 years earlier, before the dyer’s art had been lost, and how these artisans had used them.

Dr. Bohmer conceived the notion of teaching Turkish rug weavers the art of dyeing with natural substances. Eventually the School of Fine Arts in Istanbul agreed to sponsor a project with Dr. Bohmer as chief advisor, called DOBAG, an acronym in Turkish meaning Natural Dye Research and Development Project. Weavers in the villages around Ayvacik started weaving natural-dye rugs under Dr. Bohmer's supervision. DOBAG was the start of the Oriental rug renaissance. 

A Turkish Bergama constructed from old wool. Antique kilims are unraveled for their wool.

George Jevremovic and his company, Woven Legends. took that renaissance much further. He was impressed when he first saw DOBAG-inspired rugs from the villages around Ayvacik.  In 1983 he began asking weavers around Ayvacik to make rugs for him, but he quickly realized that the nature of Ayvacik tribal and village life didn't allow him to make larger carpets. He wanted the same kind of charm and naivete in large rugs that one usually finds only in small ones, and he wanted to weave rugs in early tribal or village designs, especially designs from northern Iran. Up to that time, nearly every large rug, old or new, was curvilinear and formal-looking. 

Between 1984 to 1987 George Jevremovic slowly established his Woven Legedns production of natural-dye rugs in Turkey. But the major obstacle was a lack of models for what he was trying to do. Everything had to be worked out. Although handspun wool was still available in Turkey, quantities fell far short of what he needed. He had to seek the advice of experts on natural dyeing. Eventually Woven Legends employed 15,000 people: spinners, weavers, dyers, and others.

Turkish Bidjar (Euphrates line) from Woven Legends. It is based on a mid-19th century Persian Bidjar. 

Woven Legends showed that antique designs could be beautifully rendered in new carpets. These are the first new rugs with true character to be seen in the west in a century. This was due in large part to the fact that weavers were allowed the freedom to improvise enough so that they were able to imbue their rugs with some of their individual spirit.

An Early Turkish Yatak rug from Woven Legends, less finely knotted than Azeris and clipped longer in pile.

Turkish Serapi rug from Woven Legends. It is based on old Persian Serapis from northern Iran.

When George Jevremovic was asked which rugs he considered to be collectible, he replied ’some of the Turkish rugs’. He said he experiences the weavers in China and India as being agreeable, cooperative and skillful. He has a different experience when he asks Turkish weavers to weave rugs from drawings. They too are skillful and would like to please, but there is something -- he calls it "DNA" -- that makes them a little resistant to following someone else’s drawings! **

A Sardis from Woven Legends, based on the ancient Egyptian Mamluk carpets

**Information for this article drawn from Oriental Rugs Today by Emmett Eiland.

See our Turkish Village rugs from Woven Legends.

Continue reading →

The Tibetan Plateau, Yayla & Machik

Posted on October 15, 2012 by Susan Brouwer

Our Tibetan rugs (see Tibetan & Gangchen Tibetan) are woven of lustrous, long-staple sheepswool from the Tibetan Plateau where the sheep are reared in the high-altitude Himalayas. With an average elevation of 14,800 feet, the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called “the Roof of the World,” and is the world’s highest and largest plateau.  It comprises an area four times the size of France and covers most of Tibet, Qinghai Province in western China, and part of Ladahk.

The Tibetan Plateau is an ecological region of enormous significance both at the local level for Tibetan herders and farmers, and at the national and even global levels for biodiversity conservation. At the highest altitudes, conservation and management of water resources are particularly significant, as around 40 percent of the world’s population is found within the watersheds of the rivers originating on the Tibetan Plateau.

In addition, the Tibetan Plateau ecosystems influence on a large scale atmospheric patterns, such as the Asian monsoon and high-altitude jet streams. The area is also home to many unique habitats and to numerous endangered wildlife species.

Local inhabitants in the region, especially Tibetan herders and farmers (as well as several other ethnic groups), deserve increased attention for reasons of equity in development in the context of rapid globalization – and also because so little is known in the rest of the world about the people and cultures of the Tibetan Plateau region.

We became aware of an organization known as Machik through one of our rug importers, Chris Walter and Yayla Tribal Rugs, who has been a significant supporter through sales of his all natural-dye Tibetan rugs. Machik is a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen communities on the Tibetan plateau. Their work is organized at a grassroots level around six themes: Education, Conservation and Green Technology, Women's Initiatives, Economic Opportunities, Multimedia and Digital Technology, and Social Entrepreneurship.

 -- You can help strengthen communities on the Tibetan plateau by making an online donation to Machik (www.machik.org). Or send a check payable to "Machik,” 1609 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400,
Washington, DC 20009, USA


Continue reading →

Tribal Rugs of Today

Posted on October 08, 2012 by Susan Brouwer

The art and craft of the tribal knotted pile carpet probably began among the pastoral nomads or herding people of central Asia who moved their sheep or goats between winter quarters and summer pasture. Their livelihoods were centered around their animals, and the items they made from their wool were absolutely essential to their lives: the walls of their tents, ropes, bags and containers of all sorts, rugs for the floor, clothing, and a variety of household items. The weaving of these things was also a medium for artistic expression and they lent so much color and beauty to the everyday lives of these nomadic people. 

The first tribal piled rugs or carpets may have imitated the texture and insulating properties of animal pelts. The oldest complete carpet was found in the frozen tomb of a nomadic chieftain at Pazyryk in southern Siberia. It has been dated to the 5th century B.C. and can be seen in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Many of the nomadic people have settled down over the centuries, and the longer they've been settled, the more diluted by other influences the 
designs have become. This has also been because of the migrations of peoples due to political upheavals all over the world.

Handmade Persian Gabbeh Runner

The term "tribal" used with rugs refers mainly to weavings made for personal use within a community. As nomadic peoples settled down, rug weaving became more of a cottage industry and rugs started to be produced as a means of livelihood. As the weavers have become subject to selling pressures, market demand has become such an influence that it has overridden communal tradition. 

These "tribal" pieces that we present here in our online store are really in the tribal style: the gabbehs, Balouch soumaks, Qashgai designs, all based on the weaving techniques and designs of the nomadic people of Iran but most probably made in village workshops and cottage weaving industries. With a few exceptions, some of the spontaneity of the antique Persian tribal pieces has surely been lost -- but those exceptions are out there still!

Lori Gabbeh Persian Fine Weave Carpet

Continue reading →

The Story of the Tribal Rugs of Iran

Posted on October 07, 2012 by Susan Brouwer

The supply of these rugs is very limited and what you see on this site from Iran you won't see again because of the embargo on Persian rugs.  We've chosen to feature these Balouch Soumak and Gabbeh-type rugs, even though they're unique and can't be duplicated in the much more profitable "programmed" rugs, because we feel they lend a special interest and beauty to our store.

Unlike cottage weavers, workshop weavers, or city weavers, the tribal weavers achieve expressive power in their rugs through the use of color, space and proportion. The best examples are very appealing and very creative as they are one-of-a-kind works of art.  Unlike the other more refined types of rugs, they are woven without a graph -- each piece is a creation of the weavers imagination. Many of the tribal rugs, such as the Gabbehs or Kashkuli rugs, are also woven on more primitive looms than the more refined types of carpets.  Often these looms were designed to be rolled up and unrolled when the nomadic herders arrived at new grazing grounds.

Some of these rugs, such as the older gabbehs, are reminiscent of animal pelts -- thick and shaggy. Some historians believe pelts were the inspiration for these primitive types of rugs.

Persian Handmade Rug

Green Persian Handmade Runner Rug

The Rugs we show here are modeled after gabbeh designs, including the Balouch soumak rugs. (The rugs previously known as Balouch soumaks are much more muted.) These are interpretations of gabbeh designs done with vegetal dyes in knotted pile combined with a fine soumak weave. When they're done well, these modern-day versions of the gabbehs and Balouch soumaks have great appeal to western rug buyers because of their spontaneity and charm as well as value as pieces of wonderful art.

***A caveat from A Rug For All Reasons: The photographs of these rugs don't represent these rugs as well as they could. While we aren't happy to have photographs that don't show a rug to its best advantage, our devotion to these rugs surpasses those considerations. We feel that you'll understand how special they are, even with the limitations of the photos. 

Persian Tribal Handmade Carpet

When the old Gabbehs became rare, Gholamreza Zollanvari started to work together with the Gashgai Nomads to produce new ones. By this time, the natural dyes had disappeared along with the use of handspun wool. Zollanvari started producing the Gabbeh with handspun wool, vegetable dyes and in european sizes. That is why, still today, Gholamreza is called “the father of the modern Gabbeh.” They have found tremendous popularity in Europe and the Americas. Unfortunately, because of the embargo on Persian rugs in the United States, these are the last of this type of tribal rug from Iran that we may see for sale here -- ever.

View our Persian Tribal collection

The following books give you a good overview of the history of the patterns, the carpets and the nomads:

Continue reading →

Gangchen Tibetans, Highland Sheep

Posted on October 02, 2012 by Susan Brouwer
Tibetan wool at it's finest

Start with the best material and you get the best result. That's why Gangchen rugs are made exclusively from the finest Changphel or Tibetan Highland sheep wool. Prized for its thick, long fiber, outstanding tensile strength, and high luster, this wool is absolutely the best for carpets.

Not all wool is created equal. Just as the grain of beautiful wood is the distinguishing factor in contributing to a wonderful piece of furniture's look and inherent value, the special quality of the wool in Gangchens is the factor that distinguishes these extraordinary rugs. The fibers of the wool are thick and long, averaging six inches in length, and the exceptional thickness of these fibers adds to the luster of the Gangchens. 

Handwoven Tibetan Wool Carpet With Cloud Motif

The cuticles or scale-like structures on the fibers of these Tibetan Highland sheep are larger than those found on other sheep. Large scales mean a smoother surface, which is more reflective of light, better at displaying the color and at creating a splendid sheen and a radiant luster, unique to Gangchens alone.

No other fiber takes and holds dye like Tibetan Highland sheep wool. The dyes actually seep into the core of the fibers, dyeing them from the inside out, so the colors are richer, more saturated, and more vibrant.

These rugs are a beautiful marriage of traditional design and construction with simplicity of design, vibrant color, and unsurpassed quality that are so perfect for the well-loved home of today.

Handwoven Wool Tibetan Rug With Cloud Motif

Continue reading →

A Note About Fringe

Posted on August 31, 2012 by Susan Brouwer

Many of our customers have wondered why rugs have fringe and some have requested that the fringe be "taken off."

The fringe on handwoven rugs is an integral part of the rug that is actually the warp that was strung on the loom. After the rug is finished, the warp is cut off the loom and the fringe is tied close to the woven or knotted part of the rug to hold the knots in place.

On many of our rugs, particularly the Tibetan rugs, the fringe has been bound off or bound back so that the ends have no fringe. For contemporary designs, this provides a clean, sleek look. If you'd like to order a rug that comes with fringe, but would like to have it bound back, there's a good chance we can take care of that before delivery.

For traditional rugs, fringe is also traditional -- simply because it is an integral part of the rug. Some of our customers have expressed concern about catching the fringe in their vacuum cleaners, thereby damaging it. A sure way to not have this happen is to vacuum backwards from the rug, pulling the vacuum from the pile to the fringe and off. The vacuum will only catch the fringe if you push the vacuum towards the fringe.

Fringes are the first part of a rug to show signs of wear. If you lose your fringes or the fringe shows signs of wearing back into the rug, feel free to send us a note, and we'll work with you to find a reputable repair person for your rug.

Continue reading →

How To Care For A Handmade Rug

Posted on August 08, 2012 by Susan Brouwer
Caring for a handmade rug is quite easy. There is not much maintenance to do, and hand-knotted rugs are very sturdy, often lasting for generations with just basic rug cleaning and care. They can have heavy furniture placed on top of them, and withstand both use and dirt without damaging them. If a rug becomes very dirty, professional cleaning will brighten the colors and leave you with a rug that feels airy and restored to new. 
Most of the time, basic home rug care will be sufficient to keep your handmade rugs in great shape. We've written an article on How Clean A Rug, which covers the best method to vacuum a rug along with regular house cleaning, and how to spot clean a rug when you have spilled something or have a small dirty area to clean. 

Additionally, rugs can sometimes have loose threads pulled up out of their knots. This can happen through regular use or by small "events" such as a cat scratching on it (sometimes a cat will love a particular rug and use it as a scratch pad). Simply cut the loose yarn threads with sharp scissors down to the height of the rest of the "pile" (a rug "pile" is, simply put, how thick, or tall, a rug is). There is no problem in doing this maintenance, and it will leave your rug feeling clean and new.

See all our Rug Care recommendations! 

Have a question about how to care for your handmade rug? Send us a note - we'll be happy to discuss it with you!

Continue reading →

How To Ship A Rug

Posted on August 05, 2012 by Susan Brouwer
It's easy to prepare a rug for shipping and to protect it well during transit. If you purchased the rug from A Rug For All Reasons, hold on to the same paper the rug was shipped in. If you've thrown it out, you'll need heavy-duty Visqueen (black plastic) or Tyvek®-type paper, and either packaging tape or strong twine.

A. Fold the rug in preparation to roll it up. When you roll it, try to make it no longer than 6 feet. If the rug is wider than 5 feet, we recommend folding it in half lengthwise before rolling it.

B. Roll the rug tightly, and secure the tight roll with 2-3 pieces of twine. It's easiest to prepare your twine first with a loop at one end, then feed the other end through the loop. This creates a lasso that can be secured around the rolled up rug at each end and tied off. 

C. Wrap the rolled-up rug in your wrapping material multiple times (3 is ideal for protection of the rug). Fold over the ends of the paper or plastic so it seals the ends. Encircle the entire girth of the carpet with packing tape in several places with 2 or 3 layers of tape, and seal both folded ends and the edges of the paper to protect the rug during shipping. The final package should not have any loose pieces of tape or bunched up areas of material that can catch on something durring shipping.

You can use any freight carrier for shipping a rug, such as UPS or FedEx (almost all rugs are shipped via UPS). You can schedule shipping online and print your label after paying with a credit card. You may either call UPS or FedEx for pickup at your home or place of business, or simply drop the package at any UPS store or UPS station (we recommend home or business pickup for the convenience, usually this service has only a minor charge, and it makes shipping your rug very easy). We always suggest insuring a rug for your full purchase price so that you are protected against damage to the rug during transit. Additionally, if you request delivery confirmation, you will receive a tracking number. 

Our preferred freight carrier link is provided for your convenience:


If you are returning a rug to us, please reference our Return Instructions.

Continue reading →

How To Roll A Rug

Posted on August 05, 2012 by Josh Wiesenfeld

Rolling up a rug is a convenient way to store it, as well as a step in preparation to shipping a rug. It's an easy process:

A. Fold the rug in preparation to roll it up. When you roll it, try to make it no longer than 6 feet. If the rug is wider than 5 feet, we recommend folding it in half lengthwise before rolling it.

B. Roll the rug tightly, and secure the tight roll with 2-3 pieces of twine. It's easiest to prepare your twine first with a loop at one end, then feed the other end through the loop. This creates a lasso that can be secured around the rolled up rug at each end and tied off.

Your done!

Related articles you may find helpful are "How To Ship A Rug," and "How To Store An Oriental Rug"

Continue reading →

Current Trends in the Rug-Making World

Posted on August 01, 2012 by Susan Brouwer

The rug-making world has been immersed in a swirl of change for many years. People in the rug-weaving countries have been subject to the whims of political changes, movements of peoples, the dictates of style and taste. There have been two embargoes on Iranian (Persian) rugs, one of which is currently in place.  

Because the west was not able to acquire Persian rugs for so many years in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the weavers of other countries, notably Pakistan, India and China, began making rugs emulating the Persian designs.  

9/11 drove many of the weavers in Paksistan and Afghanistan out of work because of the disappearing market in the west for their rugs. The refugee Afghani weavers in Pakistan returned to Afghanistan, some of them continuing to practice their trade.  

When the crash of 2008 occurred, much of the middle class in the west stopped investing in art and high-quality objects such as handmade rugs. The weavers have had to find other work, partly because of less demand, but also because many of the weavers have gone into jobs where they can make equal or better pay for less difficult and demanding work, such as jobs in the technology field. As fewer people make rugs, there are fewer high-quality rugs in the marketplaces of the world, prices gradually are increasing, and fewer people are able to experience the joy of seeing and owning this type of rug, especially the younger generation.

As part of our mission, A Rug For All Reasons hopes to provide a source of information about handmade rugs as well as a source for acquiring really good rugs.  Hand-knotted rugs are expensive, but we strive to keep our prices as reasonable as possible. We hope to enable the weavers to continue producing rugs that are not only durable and beautiful but also represent an age-old, traditional art.

To learn more about handmade rugs, visit our Rug Info section, starting with our article on "What is an Oriental rug?," as well as our blog article "A Short History Of Rugs."

Continue reading →

Scroll to top