It is difficult to be sure you are looking at a handmade rug or a machine made rug for the beginner. There are a few steps you can follow when trying to identify a handmade Oriental carpet / rug.
1-) Look at the back of the rug at the weave. Look for white or red or blue horizontal (to the fringe) lines of foundation threads. These threads are called weft threads. You may see partial wefts going only an inch or so, and then covered by the wool knots, but it is important that these threads are horizontal to the fringe. Sometimes the horizontal threads go all the way from one side (bound edge) of the rug to the other side. The horizontal row of wefting may not be perfectly straight.
2-) Look for unevenness in the colored knots on the back of the rug. You may see some areas slightly thicker than others.
3-) Now look at the front of the rug. Look at the design carefully. Very rarely will the design be exactly the same size and shape from one end to opposite end of the rug. This is true mostly in older Oriental rugs.
4-) You may notice slight color changes making thick or thin stripes in the rug. This is due to the change in dye lots of the wool when weaving the rug and how the color of the wool ages with light and atmosphere. These color changes are commonly found in the background color of the rug. These color changes are called “abrash” are common and do not detract from the value of the rug.
5-) Handmade rugs are almost always woven with wool pile. Machine made rugs are often made with a type of nylon or polyester pile.
6-) Machine made rugs are often made with a type of nylon or polyester pile, and are generally very uniform in their weave. On the back of the rug, you may see white woven threads running from fringe end to fringe end, or you may see no white threads at all. There is generally no unevenness in the weave or design, nor will you find abrashes in the color of the rug.