(The following is an edited excerpt from Warp, Weft & Weave: A Life Collecting and Investing in Handmade Oriental Rugs by Sam Ramazani)
Many believe that the number of knots per square inch in a rug, or the fineness of the weave, is what gives the rug value. I’ve heard some collectors proclaim the more knots per square inch, automatically the more valuable the rug. While a finely knotted rug is certainly a thing of great beauty, it is not the only thing that gives a rug its value.
The serapi rugs of 100 or more years ago are one of the most valuable rugs on the market today, and they are one of the least finely woven rugs to be found. Their 50-60 knots per square inch count makes them far less finely woven than many new rugs, and certainly less finely woven than many machine made reproduction rugs, yet a large serapi can sell for as much as $30,000.
Does this mean that knot count is irrelevant? Not at all (no pun intended). Knot count can be a very important consideration when investing in Oriental rugs. This is when to take it into consideration; if you are evaluating two rugs that are relatively similar in price, from the same region and of relatively similar age, then the fineness of the weave can be quite important. A finely woven new rug and a less-finely woven antique rug cannot be compared by the number of knots per square inch, but two sarapis that are about the same age – now the number of knots per square inch becomes interesting. Now knot count speaks to the skill of the weaver and tells a deeper story about the rug. But only when you are comparing “apples to apples.”
Sam Ramazani is an Oriental carpet educator, appraiser, broker, and skilled repair craftsman. With his daughter Sara, he owns Sara’s Oriental Rugs in Louisville, KY, providing beautiful handmade rugs, as well as expert rug cleaning and repair.