Silk Rugs

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The fiber used in silk rugs comes from the insect known as the silkworm (Bombyx mori). Whether it was first spun in China or India aside, the fiber does date back four or five thousand years. The silkworm, of course, is certainly most commonly associated with China.

Many finer Oriental rugs may contain silk, but are almost always mixtures of silk and wool and cotton. Modern rugs described as silk rugs may in fact be either partly or completely rayon. If you are planning on buying an Oriental rug, then, be cautious about claims of a rug being silk. The more you read about Oriental rugs, whether on the Internet or from a recommended book, the better prepared you'll be for a wise purchase.

Silk Rugs in History

The oldest hand knotted rug is the amazingly well-preserved Pazyryk rug found at a burial site along the Siberian and Outer Mongolian border in 1949. Frozen for 2500 years, it dates to about 500 BC, is of uncertain origin but Persian design, and is made partly of silk. Measuring about six feet square, it is in fact a saddle cover for a horse buried in the tomb. It is now at Russia's Hermitage Museum.

Wool, however, is by far the most common fiber used in the knots that form the rug pile. It yields fewer knots per inch, of course, because it is more dense and less flexible. Cotton is most common in the weave foundation into which the knots of the rug pile are tied. Silk rugs may have silk in the foundation. Silk is, after, all very flexible, resilient, and strong. More often than not, however, silk is woven into the wool of the rug pile. India's authentic Kashmir rugs those that are most often part silk.

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