It’s the debate that some people (myself included) won’t let go away. It’s the debate with no real winners or losers. It’s the debate about debating the sixth opinion (see this post of The Ruggist). It’s the debate that even may or not be a debate. In fact, I’ll go on record to say it’s no longer a debate, more of a boxing match between equally, yet differently talented, boxers. So with that, I give you: Crossed vs. Uncrossed: The definitive battle. (Until the next one).
I must admit that this topic is growing a bit tiring, but the issues behind it, of quality, authenticity, honesty, and truth in construction will always endure. The reason I have chosen to write about this again is that I recently received an email that discusses this very issue. This email was sent from a manufacturer to an importer (and then forwarded to me for my opinion) who had inquired about the difference, and the manufactuere goes on at length (not as lengthy as I tend to) debating the pros and cons of crossed vs. uncrossed, touching on many of the same points I first mentioned here. There is however a grand departure from the middle of the road where many rug dealers (and myself) tend to publicly position themselves. The email concludes with, and this is a direct quote: “You can’t notice a major difference from out [sic] (from the surface), unless you pull some knots. But cross(ed) is the proper way, no doubt about it.” GASP!
In a subsequent email still discussing the topic, further clarification regarding time and durability, was sought by the importer to which they received this reply, again quoting with clarification edits: “Cross(ed) weaving will take more time. On an 8’x10′ rug, we estimate 2 more weeks. (10-12 weeks and no more). The life span depends on traffic and care of the rug. The inner structure will hold things intact for longer. I can not give much estimation though. It will last much longer also in the good shape (maintaining its shape) and not deform(ing) easily.” GASP! GASP!
I will add that I received permission of the parties involved before publishing this information, although I have chosen to leave out names and companies.
So now what?
I am sure this is not the first such exchange, nor certainly is it to be the last, but it does begin to draw the proverbial line does it not? A definitive statement from a manufacturer stating that crossed is the “proper way” whatever that means. What does that mean anyway?
The “proper way”.
To me, the proper way means to be doing things the best way, the way that ensures the aforementioned issues of quality, authenticity, honesty, and truth in construction are held in the highest regard and adhered to without question. That is the proper way. The question of what is the best, is of course where the debate continues. We can ask what is the best quality of wool, cotton, hemp, the best knot, best country of origin et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, all because of the sixth opinion.
My sixth opinion and inspiration.
This email exchange and a book I am currently reading have inspired me to do several things, most of which I won’t bore you with. However I will share this one, a public opinion on crossed vs. uncrossed. So here, presented in its own section for clarity is my official public statement.
Official Public Statement
Acknowledging that there are merits varied and undeniable to uncrossed weaving, the decision to purchase any rug or carpet should be one in which the consumer is fully informed, and fully appreciates the value (in either crossed or uncrossed) they are receiving. Importers, retailers, showrooms owners, et cetera, have a moral and ethical responsibility to disclose the construction method(s) they use. Those who fail to disclose the true construction behind their product simply aren’t being truthful to the consumer, whereas more perversely those who present patent falsehoods about their product’s quality such as “Oh our quality is exactly the same as, say, [[INSERT CROSSED WOVEN COMPANY NAME HERE]]” when in fact it is not, are committing fraud.
Furthermore I do feel that uncrossed construction has a place in the industry. Many segments of our combined consumer demographics do not need or more importantly want a rug that will last, for what is in essence, forever. Uncrossed weaving is most highly suited to this, catering to those who desire carpets decorative in nature, who do not intend to keep the rug or carpet forever, and who are looking to remain at what should be, a lower price point than crossed weaving.
Crossed weaving on the other hand appeals to a different demographic. One who is purchasing the rug or carpet, not on its decorative merits alone (as they still exist) but on the design, which in the eye of the beholder and critics is perhaps more timeless as it were. Timelessness implies longevity and thus a more durable weaving technique, such as crossed weaving must be employed, or we would forgo the ability to enjoy the carpet “forever”.
As an importer/manufacturer/showroom owner, ask yourself: What kind of carpet are you selling? What kind does the consumer want? Are you selling decorative carpets that cater to a specific modern aesthetic and culture of redecorating and replacement? Or, in its stead are you selling carpets of a more enduring aesthetic, targeted toward those who intend to pass the carpet down to the next generation? Whichever it is, there is a suitable obvious construction method for each situation.
As for me….
The difference can best be described by simile. Crossed woven carpets are like the Sunbeam Toaster Model T-9 designed and debuted for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Uncrossed carpets are like the plastic toaster you find on the shelf at any Wal-mart today. Both make toast, but the 1939 model can and does still make toast. (I know this for a fact as I own one.) I doubt in seventy (70) years the plastic model will be doing the same. When given the choice between crossed and uncrossed carpets, the crossed woven ones are the antiques of the future.
That being said, currently I own both uncrossed (from Lapchi) and crossed (from Odegard) woven rugs and carpets. Some will presumably last forever and be the antiques of the future, while others will likewise presumably wear out sooner and be discarded as times change.
Now if only I could figure out which ones have the most enduring designs…
**Footnote: This post does not in any way attempt to draw comparisons between other methods of construction other than Tibetan Weave Crossed and Uncrossed. Comparing flatweaves, soumacs, hooked, needlepoint, et cetera to these two techniques is simply not a valid comparison.
**Footnote Two: This post was edited on August 21, 2009 to clarify some minor points.