Authentic Persian rugs are renowned for beauty and craftsmanship, but many machine-made replicas are also produced these days. As a result, for the uninformed, it can be tricky to tell if a Persian rug is real or an imitation.
While there are many ways to identify a rug’s authenticity, exploring its underside is an excellent place to begin.
It’s astonishing just how much the back of a rug can help you find out if you own a genuine Persian rug. For instance, the absence or presence of imperfections in the rug’s knots will tell you if it is machine-made or hand knotted. However, the type and texture of the rug backing is revealing.
A legitimate Persian rug is always knotted by hand. As a result, the pattern found on the underside of the rug will match the pattern on the rug’s topside, but because it is woven by hand, imperfections are likely to be present. A machine-made rug will have no such errors.
Additionally, no other backing is fitted to the underside of a Persian rug. This absence of backing gives Persian rugs a soft underside.
Some machine- or gun-tufted rugs will have a laminate backing that looks ugly, so a separate piece of material will be attached to the backing to cover this. This is not done on a true Persian rug or Oriental rug, so if you see material stuck to the back, you know you have an imitation or gun-tufted rug. Some of these rugs can still be very nice, so you should not become disheartened if you have one. There are many new designer rugs that are gun-tufted by hand into a laminate backing. They are not the same level of art work that true hand-woven Persian are, but can nonetheless be very beautiful.