WORN DOWN RUGS
A worn down rug is not the same thing as a worn out rug. Worn down antique or vintage hand-knotted rugs are highly collectible while worn out rugs are generally machine made and ultimately disposable. A worn down rug is a sought after look by consumers who want an informal vintage boho vibe in their homes, but it's also a look that is compatible with more traditional formal interior design schemes. Worn down rugs can be antique, vintage or for those who prefer new rugs, the look can be recreated in new hand-knotted rugs. Worn down generally refers to hand-knotted pile rugs where the “pile” (the fiber ends that sit above the knot that is tied to a warp string) is literally worn down to the structure of the rug (the warp). These decorative face fibers (the weft, also known as the pile) will almost always be unevenly worn down.
Wear generally occurs in high traffic areas where the soles of shoes have consistently worn away the pile over many decades of use. The key to buying a worn down rug is to look for patterns of uneven wear because this indicates either genuine wear if the rug is antique or vintage, or it indicates a first class new worn down rug where care has been taken to mimic wear patterns. Avoid buying a rug where the wear is evenly distributed across the entire rug as this looks “manufactured” and inauthentic.
Worn down pile is often associated with abrash, a term that refers to color variations in a rug that occur when wool from more than one same-color dye lot is used when weaving a rug. Although the same color, different dye lots create subtle shades that are not identical. Borrowed from the Arabic word for mottled, abrash is found within the same color fields in a rug. While technically abrash might once have been considered a “flaw”, it has evolved into a sought after characteristic of antique, vintage and worn down rugs because of the unique way it creates a one-of-a-kind rug. Worn down and abrash features have become so popular that many contemporary rug companies deliberately create these effects in new rugs.
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