An authentic Persian rug is not just a valuable investment, but a unique piece of artwork that will add beauty to your interior for many years to come. Fake rugs are sometimes not immediately obvious to the untrained eye, and if you’re not careful, you may end up purchasing a rug that’s too expensive and won’t stand the test of time.
Mehraban Rugs has three generations of experience in Persian rug identification, and we can help you learn how to tell if a Persian rug is authentic. Go through this checklist to help with verification, and if you’re unsure, contact an expert for a professional authenticity evaluation.
- Check if It’s Hand-Tufted or Hand-Knotted
Real Persian rugs are never machine-made. They are always crafted by hand with great care by skilled artisans. If your rug looks too perfect, it may have been made by a machine.
One way you can tell if a rug has been made by a machine or by hand is by checking if it’s hand-knotted or hand-tufted. The hand-tufted look actually uses a handheld machine called a “tufting gun” that shoots material through a canvas backing. These rugs can sometimes look good superficially, but they’re not up to the quality caliber of an authentic, handmade, hand-knotted rug.
You should be looking for a hand-knotted technique in your Persian rug identification process. When you turn your rug over, you should be able to identify every individual knot. If you compare the two rug undersides side-by-side, the difference is very noticeable.
A machine-made rug can also be of an excellent quality, but it’s important to know the difference between machine-made and handmade to tell if a Persian rug is authentic.
- Check If There Are Any Identical Designs
Make sure your Persian rug has a one-of-a-kind design. If you see identical rug patterns anywhere else, it is not an authentic rug.
One of the reasons Persian rugs are so valuable and sought-after by collectors and designers is that each Persian rug has a completely unique design. Because of the handmade, somewhat improvisational crafting method artisans employ, you will never find two of the exact same design. Only a machine can perfectly replicate something that requires such meticulous skill and artistry. Finding identical copies is a very obvious and clear-cut way to tell if your Persian rug is authentic or not.
- Check the Material
An authentic Persian rug will never be made from anything other than high-quality Natural Wool or Silk.
You may be able to tell if the material is wool simply by feel or appearance, but if you’re not sure, there are two tests you can do. However, these tests require you to obtain a fiber from the rug. This can be very small (the size of a few hairs, for instance) but if you don’t want to do that, you can ask a professional.
The first test is the burn test. Wool burns very differently compared to synthetic fibers (check how materials burn here). Wool will also dissolve almost completely when covered with bleach for 8 hours, unlike many synthetic materials. Make sure you do these tests safely and without damaging your rug.
Additionally, you should make sure to inspect the backside in your Persian rug identification process. An authentic Persian rug will have a soft, flexible backside. If the backside is stiff or rigid or it seems like it’s made out of a synthetic, plastic material, it is not authentic. A soft backside is required to make hand-knotting easier when crafting rugs by hand.
- Check if the Rug is Too Cheap
Persian rugs are very valuable, and you should be wary of anyone selling a Persian rug at a price that seems too good to be true.
Ensure you purchase your rug from a reputable dealer and don’t believe the rug is just that cheap because the seller is “going out of business”. Any rug dealer should be able to appreciate the value of an antique rug and will not undersell it.
- Check the Edge Finishing and Fringes
With machine-made rugs, you will often see edging that is glued on or machine-sewn on. When you look at the underside of the rug, you should never see machine stitches or glue marks.
When learning how to tell if a Persian rug is authentic, pay attention to the fringes and edge finishing. Every fringe on an authentic Persian rug will be hand-knotted and not sewn or glued.
A rug with a hand-knotted fringe is also far more likely to last and stay durable, so this isn’t just an aesthetic difference. Proper edge finishing directly affects the quality and aesthetics of the rug.
- Check for Color Bleeding
In an authentic Persian rug, each strand of the fiber is individually dyed with dyes derived from vegetable products. These dyes are completely colorfast and do not bleed, even after many decades have passed. There should be no color bleeding whatsoever in an authentic Persian rug.
- Have the Rug Professionally Inspected
If you’ve gone through all the steps above and you’re still unsure, take your rug to a professional or send in pictures. Professional Persian rug identification is the only perfect way to verify authenticity.
A professional will not only be able to determine the rug’s authenticity but may also be able to:
- Verify the origin of your rug
- Help with its valuation
- Help you determine how to properly care for your antique rug
Mehraban Rugs has decades of experience with antique rugs and we proudly have family roots in Iran. Designers and collectors trust us for the finest rugs in the Los Angeles area, and our reputation often proceeds us. We would be more than happy to assist you with identifying and valuing your rug.
We hope that this guide has helped you see how to tell if your Persian rug is authentic. As always, if you have any inquiries, do not hesitate to contact us.