Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do the Tibetan carpets have such a distinctive and elegant look?

A. Tufenkian carpets’ distinctive look is attributable to the use of exceptionally high quality materials and the extraordinary level of traditional handwork involved in all stages of production. For its Tibetan and Designers’ Reserve rugs, Tufenkian uses the finest Tibetan wool, carried by yak over the Himalayas to our facilities in Nepal. For its Armenian rugs, the wool of Caucasian Mountain sheep is used.  In both cases, the wool is not bleached or scoured; thus preserving its character.  The wool is carded, spun, dyed, and knotted exclusively by hand. The result: rich texture, subtle strie of color and innovative design, the hallmarks of Tufenkian Carpets.

Q: Does the wool clean and wear well?

A. There is a unique hardiness to the Tibetan wool due to the extreme altitude and climate of the Tibetan plateau where the sheep graze. Their wool is long in staple and contains an unusually high amount of lanolin, a natural stain and soil repellant. The wool is inherently strong, elastic, and resilient; all of which contribute to its longevity. Our Armenian production starts with the wool of Caucasian Mountain sheep.  This wool heralds back to some of the finest antique Oushak carpets available today.

Q: Can I use Scotchguard on my carpet?

A. Scotchguarding or using some other type of soil-retardant on the carpet is normally not required because Tufenkian carpets are naturally stain resistant.

Q: How should I clean my carpet?

A. Vacuum regularly and have your carpet professionally cleaned if visibly dirty. If spots are attended to immediately, almost any stain (red wine, soy sauce, etc.) will come out after blotting with seltzer or plain water. Never clean a stain by rubbing as doing so can possibly force the stain into the carpet permanently.

Q: If a piece of yarn pulls out, will my carpet unravel?

A. No. Each knot is separate from the others. If the yarn pops up, just clip it off.

Q: Why are there dark spots or irregular colors?

A. The wool is hand-scrubbed without harsh scouring or bleaching. Because the wool is not bleached to stark white uniformity, each fiber retains its own unique shading and character, thus dyes are absorbed unevenly. These slight variations in the wool make each carpet unique.

Q: Does Tufenkian use vegetable dyes?

A. Only with Yak-Soo, a shag alternative and Tufenkian construction technique that has its own collection in the Core Tibetan line.  Vegetable dyes do not offer a broad enough range of color for our designs and exhibit lack of color-fastness both in washing and exposure to sunlight. Tufenkian was one of the first manufacturers to switch to top-quality Swiss metal-complex dyes, which provide a broad range of fade-resistant colors. The wool is still dyed in small lots by hand, in the Tibetan tradition, but the pigments are created with a modern Swiss process utilizing chromium metal, a naturally occurring element, the use of which creates dyes that will never run or fade, while allowing the natural character of the wool to express itself. 

Q: What is Tufenkian Wash?

It has been our philosophy since the time we began our own production overseas that since we are making the finest quality products we should finish them with only the finest quality washing.  For many years the finest finishing was available only in Switzerland.

After years of experimentation, development of techniques, formulas and equipment, we have created a wash in our factory in Nepal that meets our strict standards.  It is the Tufenkian Wash.

The Swiss wash has two drawbacks.  First, because of added transit and handling, it slows delivery of our products by one to two months compared to source-country washing.  Second, it interjects a variable in the quality control process between the time the rug is checked at the factory, and the time it is received by us in New York.  A rug that leaves and is perfect at the factory may develop quality problems in washing and arrive in NY in unsatisfactory condition.

It may be important to note that we go to great lengths to ensure that the Swiss Metal Complex dyes and cleaning chemicals used in the other rugs we offer are not used in a manner that is detrimental to the environment. After washing the rugs, we do not simply pour the contaminated water back into the ground or the public water supply, as many other manufacturers do. Instead, we purify the water, restoring it to drinkable quality before re-using it. We then dispose of the dyes, washing chemicals, and other contaminants carefully and separately. With the Tufenkian wash we are able to maintain wash quality, while dramatically reducing our delivery times and improving consistency and quality control.

Q: Why do carpets vary in size?

A. Tufenkian carpets differ from machine made carpets in several ways, including variations in size. These variations exist because of the numerous handmade processes used to make each rug. The variation in size ranges from +/- 2% in width and +/- 4% in length. Our wool is spun into yarn by hand. Therefore, the yarn varies in diameter, which results in knots of varying size. The thinner the yarn, the smaller the knot; the thicker the yarn, the larger the knot. So it follows that the smaller the knots, the smaller the rug; and the larger the knots, the larger the rug. Additionally, during the weaving process, each row of knots is beaten down by hand. This also contributes to variations in size. Nominal sizes in the Tibetan Collections include 6x9 (actual approximates 5'6"x8'6"), 9x12 (actual approximates 8'9"x11'6") and in the Armenian Collections the 5x7 (actual approximates 4'6"x6'6").

Q: Why do Tufenkian rugs shed?

A. After the carpet has been woven, the tips of the pile are gently sheared to even out the surface of the carpet. Small bits of yarn and fibers may be released from the pile during use. This is a temporary phenomenon. With normal vacuuming and traffic these extraneous fibers and pieces of yarn will work their way out the carpet. The temporary shedding in no way compromises the integrity or durability of your handmade carpet.

Q: Are the carpets treated with a mothproofing chemical?

A. No. Tufenkian carpets are not treated with a mothproofing chemicals; they are effectively mothproofed as a result of the washing process.

Q: Why are the rugs so expensive? Am I getting good value?

A. There are “handmade” carpets with finer knotting available for less cost. They tend to be machine-made (except for the knotting process), and they utilize common New Zealand wool. These rugs are not very different from completely machine-made carpets, which are even cheaper. Tufenkian does not cut corners; only rare and wonderful Tibetan and Armenian wool is used. The yarn is spun, carded and dyed entirely by hand. This process is costly, but Tufenkian is committed to providing our customers with an exceptional product. Additionally, Tufenkian is dedicated to addressing the social, economic and environmental concerns of the communities in which our facilities are located in Nepal and Armenia. Tufenkian houses, feeds, educates and provides medical care for thousands of weavers in Nepal. We keep their water clean and further safeguard Nepal’s fragile ecosystem against chemical by-products by washing most of our carpets in European facilities, which feature environmentally sound finishing processes. In Armenian the Tufenkian Foundation funds an orphanage and senior citizen housing.

Q: Where does the cotton on the fringes come from?

A. The fringes are made of cotton from India. The fringes are not ornamental finishing but rather the ends of the warp threads, part of the carpet’s foundation.

Q: Where are the rugs woven?

A. Tufenkian Tibetan Carpets are woven in Nepal by Tibetan expatriates who employ age-old Tibetan weaving techniques. Workers’ collectives include ethnic Nepalese in compliance with employment regulations established by the government of Nepal.  Armenian artisans make Tufenkian Armenian Carpets.  James Tufenkian reintroduced the art of handcrafting carpets to Armenia after it was virtually eliminated during three generations of Soviet occupation.

Q: Can the carpets be used in a business/public environment?

A. Tufenkian carpets’ durability and beauty make them a perfect addition to public settings. They are made of durable wool that is hand-carded, hand-spun and densely packed in pile. This great wool, combined with the European finishing process, contributes to the creation of a high-quality, soil-resistant product.

Q: Does Tufenkian make custom rugs? What is involved?

A. Yes, custom sizes are available for all Tufenkian designs.  In our Tibetan production you can specify your own design and colors. Prices vary based on attributes such as size and style. Stocking dealers may contact our Customer Service or Custom Department for a quote. Allow 5 to 7 months for delivery. A 50% deposit is required on all custom orders.

Q: What other sizes and colors do these rugs come in?

A. Most Tufenkian carpets come in a variety of sizes and colors. Keep in mind that the designs are constantly evolving; new designs and color-ways are introduced twice a year.  Your local Tufenkian dealer has inventory and catalogs showing the broad range of Tufenkian carpets.

Q: What Tufenkian carpet (sizes, color) complements this rug?

A. The answer depends upon the rug in question, as well as the intended room setting. Tufenkian dealers are qualified to offer assistance in selecting appropriate color/design combinations from our diverse collection.

Q: What is the availability of a Tufenkian carpet?

A. If the rug is not in stock at your local showroom, your dealer can call Tufenkian to check delivery schedules. If the rug is not in our inventory, average delivery time is 45 days. Depending on availability, delivery may range from immediate to seven months.

Q: Why are the fold marks are visible in the Outlet rug images, is it from the rugs being in storage?

In the warehouse most rugs are stored on wooden pallets folded several times over to maximize space and ease of transportation. When we photograph many rugs at time they're removed from storage, laid flat, then returned to the stack in minutes. Wool does not have much of a memory and such fold marks go away in the first few weeks of normal use when a rug is laid flat and gravity takes over.  For the lighter weight weaves such as Kotana, Timpa, or Shakti, the use of a rug pad can help smooth out the folds, hold the rug in place, and keep the rug from buckling. In a perfect world all rugs would be rolled tight width-wise and look perfect each time they were unrolled for a photograph, but alas it's an impractical solution. The challenges of projected and reflected light will never go away, but we are always working to improve image quality.

Q: Are the standard sizes of the rugs "true"?

The extreme handmade nature of our rugs makes size variation the norm and all rug sizes are nominal. Every manufacturer has their own idiosyncrasies around this issue. The standard variation is 2% on width and 4% on length, and we have particular sizes that deserve more qualification:  Tibetan 6x9, 9x12, and 11x17 and Armenian 5x7's. These sizes run smaller due to the size of the respective looms. The Tibetan 6x9's average 5'6"x8'6", Tibetan 9x12's average 8'9"x11'6", Tibetan 11x17's average 10'6"x16'6", and Armenian 5x7's average 4'6"x6'6". When you measure your space for one of these size rugs please keep this information in mind. If you have any specific size limitations that may be outside our normal standard sizes (2x3, 3x5, 3x10, 3x12, 4x6, 5x7, 6x6, 6x9, 8x8, 8x10, 9x9, 10x10, 10x14, 11x17, or 12x16), please consult your salesperson. Non-Tufenkian or one-of-a-kind rugs will more frequently have non standard sizes that will be noted in their name or description.

Q: If your carpet tag states: 100% hand spun Tibetan wool, does that mean that carpet is made in Tibet, or could carpet be woven elsewhere?

Every rug we weave from Tibetan wool is produced in Nepal, and this accounts for about 80% of our current production. In addition, these rugs are crafted with a very specialized knotting technique called the Tibetan Loop Senneh knot, which also differentiates them from rugs produced in Turkey or other regions across the world.  We also produce rugs in Armenia, where we use wool from Caucasus Mountain sheep and employ the traditional Persian Senneh knot.   

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