The difference in price between handmade and machine-made rugs can be large, and it causes many people to opt for the cheaper machine-made variety. They argue that machine-made rugs look exactly the same as handmade despite coming with a much smaller price tag. But price isn’t the only factor setting handmade and machine-made rugs apart. They differ greatly in composition as well, displaying differences in quality of materials as well as craftsmanship. The following breakdown of each type’s production and composition demonstrates the superiority handmade rugs offer compared to machine-made rugs.
The main difference between handmade and machine-made rugs is how they are produced. Tufenkian’s handmade rugs are entirely hand-crafted from start to finish. Wool and silk fibers are obtained and spun into yarn by hand, and that yarn is then dyed, woven and knotted by hand as well. Given the intricacy of most designs, this process requires a significant amount of time, taking anywhere from eight months to multiple years to complete. The result of this long process is a unique work of art that showcases human talent and embraces originality.
In contrast, machine-made rugs are produced with high-powered industrial looms and specialized multi-needle sewing machines controlled by computers. With machines, rugs can be made in mere minutes, allowing for quick and efficient mass production. The dramatic difference in production times between these two rug types is the main reason for the striking price disparity.
In addition to the extraordinary level of traditional handwork involved in the production process, the high-quality materials used in handmade rugs also contribute to their superiority over machine-made rugs. Tufenkian uses the finest Tibetan wool for its Tibetan rugs and the wool of Caucasian Mountain sheep for its Armenian rugs. To preserve the wool’s character and rich texture, it isn’t bleached or scoured. Unbleached wool also has high soil and stain resistance, retains color very well and is naturally water repellant. Because of these traits, a handmade rug has a very long lifespan, often lasting multiple generations. All materials are natural, renewable and biodegradable, so when the time comes to retire the rug, it will break down and return its rich nutrients back to the earth.
Machine-made rugs, on the other hand, often use bleached wool and synthetic fibers like polypropylene, nylon, polyester, acrylic and art silk. The bleached wool does not host the same characteristics as its natural, unbleached form, so machine-made wool rugs are not as durable as handmade. Many of the synthetic fibers do not carry those traits either, causing the lifespan of a machine-made rug to be about 20 years or less. Additionally, synthetic fibers are not biodegradable. When they get thrown out and eventually break down, they’ll release harmful chemicals, further polluting the atmosphere.
The difference between handmade and machine-made rugs is pretty clear when it comes to quality craftsmanship and materials. The human production and natural materials combine to give handmade rugs a value incomparable to machine-made rugs. Each handmade rug serves as a unique display of human skill, originality and quality that its mass-produced, machine-made alternative cannot match.