The term 'pile' refers to the ends of the yarn that protrude upwards on an Oriental rug, forming the surface of the rug itself. The pile is created when weavers tie a short piece of yarn around two warp strands – warp meaning the strands that run top to bottom in a rug – to hold the rug together.
The Process of Knotting
The process of tying the short piece of yarn and creating the pile is referred to as knotting. The term 'knotting' best describes this process because after tying the yarn together, the weavers beat the rugs, causing the warp, weft, and ties to form a secure knot that holds the rug together.
What makes Oriental rugs so unique and precious is that every handmade rug's individual strands of pile have to be tied together by hand. As you can imagine, this can be a very lengthy and strenuous process.
Different Types of Knots
In contemporary weaving styles, there are two main types of knots that are used. The first style is the Senneh – otherwise known as the Persian. The second type of knot is the Ghiordes – otherwise known as the Turkish. There is a third type of knot called the Jufti knot, but it is inferior in comparison to the main two styles and is rarely practiced, so we will not describe it.
Both of these styles have their own benefits and pitfalls; however, they are both equally efficient at holding a rug together. The main advantage of knowing the difference between the Oriental styles is that it can help you determine the origin of the rug itself.
The Senneh (Persian) Knot
This is formed by looping the pile yarn through two warp strands. When the two strands are looped, the weaver then draws the loop back through one of the strands. This knot is also known as the asymmetrical knot because the loop in the pile can be dropped to the left or the right.
Rug experts like to claim that this Senneh knot enables the Persian rug weavers to create curved and intricately swirled designs because the weavers can tie more knots per square inch than the Ghiordes knot.
The Senneh knot is most popular in China, Pakistan, India, and the Balkan countries in addition to its creator, the Persian territories. When examining the back of a rug, one can tell if the Persian knot style has been used based on how many loop bumps are visible across the warp.
The Ghiordes (Turkish) Knot
This style is formed in the same way as the Senneh knot with the pile being loop across two warp strands. The difference between the Senneh knot and Ghiordes knot is that the Ghiordes knot is drawn back inside both of the warp strands instead of just one of the strands.
This knot is referred to as a symmetrical knot, and it produces very compact rugs. The most popular weaving groups to use this style of knotting are the Caucasian and the Anatolian groups. Just like the Senneh style, the Ghiordes knot style is difficult to determine, but if the back of the rug has two loop bumps on the warp, then it is likely that this knot style was used.