A few classifications—Oriental, European handwoven, Brussels, Wilton, velvet, Axminster, chenille, ingrain, rag, hooked, straw, and fiber—embrace the entire range of carpets, both antique and modern.
To the first class belong not only the genuine antique Orientals, made through the 19th cent. and now comparatively rare, but also the modern reproductions. The materials are dyed either with traditional vegetable dyes or modern (and less desirable) aniline dyes and then woven. Many modern Orientals are washed in chlorine solutions to give an effect of age or in glycerine to simulate the luster of fine wool. Commercial methods have somewhat standardized and debased the characteristic ancient patterns, but the modern Orientals are still commercially important. Moreover, some traditional Oriental rugs are still produced, incorporating the deep, rich color and intricate patterns of Persia, the brighter hues and conventionalized figures of Asian Turkey, the simpler designs and primitive colorings of Turkistan and the Caucasus, and the symbolic ornament of China.
A limited number of European handwoven carpets, both Aubussons (tapestry) and Savonneries (pile), are now made in most Western countries. Modern commercial carpets are woven on complex and highly specialized machines, a development from Bigelow's power loom. Brussels carpet has a warp and weft of linen, with a pile of worsted yarn drawn into loops by means of wires. It is called three-, four-, or five-frame, depending on the number of bobbins carrying different-colored warp threads, which make the pattern. Tapestry Brussels is an inexpensive single-frame sort, either yarn printed or piece printed.
Wilton is made on the same principle, except that the loops that form the pile are cut as they are woven into place. Velvet is an equivalent of tapestry Brussels with the pile cut. Axminster, similar in effect to Oriental, uses unlimited colors in design made on machines that loop the tufts, one color at a time, and then interlock the weft about them. Chenille, or chenille Axminster, is made in two stages. First the chenille thread, or fur, as it is called, is made, then it is folded and ironed so that the woolen fibers are like a fringe along a cotton or linen chain. This fur is then woven into a strong backing of linen with the nap on the surface.
Ingrain, no longer widely used, is a plain-weave fabric, of two- or three-ply woolen weft on a concealed cotton warp. Rag carpets, made of used rags sewn together for warp, were first woven on household looms; they became commercially important in the latter part of the 19th cent. Hooked rugs are made of narrow strips of woolen cloth drawn by a pointed hook through a canvas foundation on which a design is indicated.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.