Handmade Tibetan rugs are very different from other Oriental rugs. From original designs to weaving traditions, they are completely unique creations, impossible to find anywhere else. Sadly, in recent years, due to their growing popularity, more and more people decide to copy them, often using questionable manufacturing tactics or not environmentally friendly solutions. With current political situation of Tibet acquiring rugs may prove difficult. In order to help other carpet aficionados, we decided to share a few tips which will help you make a conscious purchase of an authentic Tibetan carpet so you can avoid getting an inferior product.
Original Tibetan knots result in much simpler and modern patterns that those of for example Perian or Turkish rugs. Using this technique, Tibetan craftsmen can make a carpet much faster, but their final creation may seem thinner comparing to other traditional wool rugs.
To make a rug, Tibetans use wool of highland sheep, known as changpel. It is important to know that authentic Tibetan creations are made of this specific kind of wool, as it is the most common resource in that region. Some of them might also use natural dyes, but nowadays it is just as common to use synthetic ones. Most popular colors of Tibetan rugs are blue, yellow, gray and red.
If you are set on acquiring a real handmade Tibetan rug, be prepared to spend some money. Tibetan rugs tend to be pricy, due to the fact that not many of them are being made and finding them outside Tibet can be difficult. In recent years many allegedly Tibetan rugs are being made in neighboring Nepal and India as cheaper counterparts, so before purchasing always make sure that your carpet is from Tibet and no other country. Sadly, some producers are not above using slave or child labor to weave carpets. In order to avoid buying such carpet, see if your rug dealer supports fair trade and conscious purchase.
Last, but not least, check if your carpet of choice is truly a handmade one. As Tibetan carpets are usually hand-knotted, their rows of knots will inevitably vary in size and not all lines will be completely straight. Rugs that are perfectly symmetrical are usually machine-made.