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Understanding Vintage Rugs

So what makes a rug vintage?” It’s an important question and one that we often get asked. Vintage rugs are commonly considered to be rugs that are 30-50 years old. Meanwhile, antique rugs are rugs that are at least 100 years old. In the middle of those two categories is a third and lesser-known category: semi-antique. Semi-antique rugs are rugs that are 50-100 years old. Most of the rugs that we source and sell at Rise Home Collection fall into this semi-antique category. If you’re buying a vintage rug, it’s important to understand these different categories because age often affects value: the older the rug, the more expensive it’s likely to be.


Our "Lilibet" rug, a semi-antique Soumak


Unfortunately, the internet is awash with mislabelling when it comes to rugs. We often see this on marketplaces such as Etsy, where many sellers intentionally inflate the stated age of rugs to justify higher prices. Many such sellers apply harsh chemicals and techniques to make rugs appear older and worn so that they can pass them off as vintage or antique. We’ll never forget the rug seller we met who proudly told us that he leaves his “vintage” rugs outside in the sun all summer so that the colours fade. He described it as “sunbathing”. The best thing you can do to avoid buying a mislabelled rug is to buy from a reputable seller that specialises in selling vintage and antique rugs.  


Our "Lycia" rug


As well as age-related lingo, it can be useful to understand some common terminology when buying a vintage or antique rug. If a rug is described as having an “all-over pattern”, it means that the pattern repeats throughout the rug. If a rug is described as having a “medallion”, it will have one or more large medallion shaped motifs that act as a focal point in the rug’s design.  If a rug is described as having “abrash” it means that the colour is not uniform throughout the rug and there is some variation in the strength of the colours. Abrash is a hallmark of authentic vintage and antique rugs because it is only present in rugs that were dyed with natural plant and vegetable dyes (as opposed to synthetic, modern dyes).


Our "Lupin" rug, with its centre medallion and abrash


It is worth bearing in mind that vintage, semi-antique and antique rugs are all 100% handmade and 100% unique. A question we often get asked is whether we can provide more than one of the same rug. The answer to this is “no”. Every handmade rug is a labour of love that was brought to life by one or more female artisans who spent months at the loom creating their masterpiece. They usually made rugs for a specific event or purpose (for example, to be a wedding gift), rather than for commercial gain and mass consumption. Like anything that’s handmade, replication is impossible and you should expect your vintage rug to contain a small number of character- enhancing imperfections.


Although no two rugs are identical, we’re always happy to look around for a rug that is similar to another one if a client requests. As we’re based in Istanbul (aka the centre of the rug universe!), we’re perfectly placed to fulfil custom sourcing requests and can even involve our customers via video call!