Home / Buying a Rug / Real or Fake: 7 Telltale Signs of a Fake Oriental Rug

Real or Fake: 7 Telltale Signs of a Fake Oriental Rug

You got a very nice piece of Oriental rug, but are you sure it’s the real deal?
It’s true that there are a lot of awesome Oriental rugs out there in the market, but as we’ve repeatedly warned our readers, a great percentage of these pieces are not authentic. So, you have to have a very keen eye when buying and choosing these worthy investments.

So, how do you spot a fake Oriental rug in a set? Here are some telltale signs that could warn you about an inauthentic piece.

1. Several identical designs

Quite obviously, Oriental rugs that have several pieces with exactly the same design should ring the alarm. It could only mean one thing: mass-production.
An authentic Oriental rug is unique in design. While weavers attempt to replicate their designs, it is very difficult, almost impossible, because each piece is individually hand-woven and hand-knotted. As a matter of fact, the beauty and uniqueness of each piece lies on the minor inconsistencies found in each rug. If you have spotted an Oriental rug that has perfect features, it might have been made by a machine.
Genuine Oriental rugs may have imperfections and they are totally acceptable. Hallmarks of authentic rugs include: slight irregular knots and fringe stitching, not perfectly aligned or minor discrepancies in corners, design a little off-center or lack repetition, and minor areas of wear due to manual weaving.

2. A hard plastic back

Flip the rug over. Does it have a hard plastic back? If so, then you’re holding a fake Oriental rug.
Real, hand knotted rugs always have with soft back. The patterns at the back should also match those on its face – it should look like a mirror of the rug’s pattern. However, if the back doesn’t look like mirror image of the design, then it’s an inauthentic piece.

3. Dye bleeding

You might chance upon an awesome piece sold as a genuine Oriental rug, but testing for color bleeding will help you determine whether it’s real or fake. If color bleeds, then it’s a fake!
Checking for color bleeding can be quite difficult but there are ways. Place a damp cloth on the rug and leave it there overnight. In the morning, if the cloth has been colored or stained, then the rug didn’t use colorfast dye – it got to be a fake!
You can also smell or see visible ink. Some rug dealers try to cover imperfections, such as bald spots, cuts, fading, and holes by applying ink. These imperfections are often due to unstable dye.
Original Oriental rugs use natural vegetable dyes. Ancient rug weavers didn’t have chemical dyes; they only used natural dyes from plants and vegetables. The use of colorfast dye is essential in creating rugs that will last for many decades. Before buying any rug, it would be best if you ask the dealer to indicate the type of dye used. Also ask for a money back guarantee in case they’re just fooling around.

4. Sewn or glued fringe

If a rug has a fringe sewn on, it should be inauthentic. Some manufacturers attempt to re-create a handmade Oriental rug by gluing or sewing fringe. From afar, the fringe creates an illusion that it is authentic but on closer look, you will see that it is not seamless.
Always remember that the fringe is what holds the threads together. It is not just a design element that is added on the rug. It’s also a structural part of an authentic rug. So, make sure to check the fringe of your rug to avoid falling for a fake Oriental rug.

5. Made of synthetic materials

Real Oriental rugs are made of wool and other natural fibers. Some of the most common materials used for machine-made rugs include acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene. These materials are meant to look aesthetically pleasing but aren’t as long-lasting as those made of natural wool.
Expect these synthetic rugs to have a lifespan of three to five years. On the other hand, original Oriental rugs are made of very durable materials that can last for decades. Moreover, wool has several properties that make it a healthy piece inside your home – antibacterial, flame retardant and hypoallergenic.

6. Not hand-knotted

Oriental rugs are laboriously made by weavers for long weeks or months. The human touch behind each design is what makes it even more precious. Every knot is carefully tied by hand.
If the label says the rug is “hand tufted”, then it’s not hand knotted. Hand tufting is a shortcut technique that uses a tufting gun to punch a design into a canvas backing with a stencil behind it. Anyone can do hand tufting and doesn’t really require any special skills, artistic vision, or serious training. This lack of attention also puts the overall quality of the rug in question. The lifespan of a tufted rug is inferior to that of an authentic Oriental rug.

7. Unbelievably cheap

Another obvious sign of a fake Oriental rug can be seen right on its price tag. Authentic rugs would cost you a fortune. The enormous amount of artistry, skills and time poured into each piece makes Oriental rugs pricey.
If you have found an unusually cheap rug on hand, think twice about buying it. Also, beware of very tempting discounts that dealers advertise. You might have gotten a piece at 80% discount but does it really reflect the real value of the rug?


Be very careful if you want to get an authentic Oriental rug. Take your time to shop around. Look at different dealers as well as online stores. Inspect each rug closely before finally closing the deal. Finding a real Oriental rug is a challenging but very rewarding process. If you put enough attention, you will get the reward you deserve!

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of