The process of making a Persian Carpet

Sourcing & dying the wool - Making the fringes - On the loom weaving the knots - the pile on the loom

How Long Does it Take to Knot a Persian Carpet?

There are many things to factor in when working this out; the weaver's skill, material used, complexity of the design, number of colours, knots per square inch - and so on. See if you can determine the duration, based on a carpet you know about.

There is a lot that goes into the making of a Persian or Oriental carpet, and knotting is just one of those facets. There is the selection, the carding, combing and spinning (to form the yarn) and the dying of the wool, pattern or design selection, setting up on the loom, then the knotting or weaving commences, after which the carpet is cut from the loom, the ends and sides finished, the carpet is sheared, chemical washed, sculptured and inspected.

So, given the above, and to be clear with what we are referring to here, this is just the weaving or knotting of the carpet itself, and given ideal circumstances too. So treat these are guidelines with which you can think with.

Before you begin weaving your own Oriental rug, consider this. A skilled weaver can tie about 5 000 - 5 500 knots per day. Thus the time for one person to knot a 9' x 12' (2.7m x 3.7m) rug in several common qualities works out like this:

NOTE: The figures 6/40 refers to the amount of knots in 9/10 of an inch of the rugs WIDTH and the second figure refers to amount of knots in 4.5 inches of the rugs LENGTH. This applies to rugs made in India.

Figures such as 8/14 or 9/16 refer to Pakistan rugs which refers to knots per ONE inch in WIDTH and LENGTH.

Quality Knots / Knots / Sq.ft Days / Sq Ft Knots in a 9' x 12' Carpet Time Required to knot
"6/40" 60 8,640 1.4 933,120 151 Days
(5 months)
"7/52" 91 13,104 2.2 1,415,232 237 Days
(7.9 months)
"9/60" 135 19,440 3.2 2,099,520 346 Days
(11.5 months)
"12/60" 180 25,920 4.3 2,799,360 464 Days
(15.5 months)

(Note that usually more than one person works at a time on rugs from about 4' x 6' and larger. To get the actual weaving time for a carpet, you'd need to divide the "Time required" shown here by the number of weavers working simultaneously on the rug).

Remember that these estimates do not include the time needed to prepare the wool (for wool clipping, carding, spinning, and dyeing), to map the design (about 8 days for a 12/60 quality rug), or to wash and clip the finished carpet (more than 15 days for a 12/60 quality 9' x 12' (2.7m x 3.7m) carpet).

Put Differently

So how long does it take to weave a quality wool carpet?

4' x 6' (1.2m x 1.8m) area rug with 400 knots per square inch (KPSI) - 230 days.
6' x 9' (1.8m x 2.7m) at 400 KPSI - 518 days.
8' x 10' (2.4m x 3.0) at 400 KPSI - 768 days and a
9' x 12' (2.7m x 3.7m) at 400 KPSI approximately - 1036 days.

So, How long does it take to make a rug?

This really depends on the knot count or knots per square inch (KPSI) and explains why this is an important indicator of price. It also explains why Persian and Oriental hand knotted rugs are so exclusive. A skilled weaver can knot around 12 knots per minute, to find out how long your rug took to make use our simple calculator. Rugs with more colour and detail will also take longer to weave. A 224 KPSI rug in all the one colour (a plain pattern) will take a lot less time to weave than a 224KSPI rug with multiple colours (giving it a more intricate design). This is simply because following a complex pattern is more difficult and changing colours is more time consuming for the weaver.

This does not include the time taken to shepherd, spin and dye the wool, nor to design, wash, dry and clip the rug. Often a couple or a family will share the work for tribal rugs or two weavers will simultaneously knot a city woven carpet halving the time taken to complete the rug. However, the man hours/days going into the production remains the same.

Completion time depends on the type of rug. As an example, a 9’x12′ (~2750 x 3650) Persian rug that has 500 knots per square inch would take 4-5 artisans working 6 hours a day 6 days a week approximately 14 months to complete!

The making of Persian & Oriental carpets by knotting by hand

The age old tradition of making Persian & Oriental carpets by hand-knotting, using naturally dyed wool on a cotton base

What is meant by “knots per square inch”?

“Knots per square inch” refers to how many knots are packed into a square inch. Single-knotted rugs (most of the Bokharas and Tribals) have two strings in the same space that double-knotted rugs (Persians) would have four strings; hence twice the amount of knots. In a double-knotted rug, the second knot sits in front of the first knot and so is not visible from the back.

More knots per square inch does not make a Persian rug a better rug than a Bokhara or Tribal rug. Persians, Bokharas and Tribals are simply done in different ways. The basic difference between Bokharas, Tribals and Persians is similar to the difference between appliqued and patched quilt—same materials, same skills, just different techniques. If good materials are used and there is good craftspersonship, then there will be a good rug. A Persian might last a bit longer than a Bokhara, but with an average life over 100 years, it becomes a moot point.

The Last Word

A skilful weaver is able to tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 6 knots per minute or 360 knots per hour. That means it would take a weaver around 6,480 hours to weave a 9x12-foot (3.0m x 3.65m) rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch. Divide this number by 8 (an 8-hour working day) and it would take one weaver 810 days (approximately two and a half years!) to weave such a rug. A rug as large as a 9x12 is usually woven by two or three weavers, so the above time can be reduced by half or third but the labour costs increase. This is one reason why most Persian rugs are to be considered prestigious items.

Think about the patience, attention to detail, and consistency required to sit and knot all day - the tenacity, posture, and ability to repeat the knot tying over and again, and to change as required for design or colour or changing to another material - from wool to silk - reading the pattern exactly. So duplicating the pattern, knot, colour, position and never making an error. Now that is some doing. Respect.