Many designers and design publications are saying antique rugs are the hottest thing right now in the home decor market. Fancy resorts, hotels and other high end destinations are all jumping on the band wagon.
Rugs which many consider a precious investment, due to their age and value, are now found in the hippest interior designs.
Why are they so valuable?
Hand woven carpets such as these are a living history, recording memorable people and events. Passed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms, these antique rugs are an important part of world culture. Some consider them their most prized possessions, since these antique carpets are works of art which have several practical uses. Skilled craftsmen and designers spend hours weaving intricate patterns and images into them. No wonder they have been used like currency for thousands of years. One of our oldest art forms, described in writings of the ancient Egyptians and Marco Polo. Hand woven rugs are made by many different cultures across the globe from South America to Asia. Although, unlike many art forms, they have stood the test of time, with some being over two thousand years old.
A Brief History of Antique Rugs from Europe
During the rule of the Muslim Moors between the 8th and 13th centuries, Europe was introduced to rug weaving primarily through Spain. The travels of Marco Polo and Spanish embassies to Venice were mainly responsible. The two most notable styles to originate from Europe are the French Savonnerie and Aubusson styles of the 17th and 18th centuries.
French Savonnerie, established in Paris(1628), produced ornate rugs primarily for use in palaces, special order and royal request. Traditional artists were overseeing the production of rug orders, so their influence is highly visible. Scenes from the Savonnerie antique rugs depict the glories of the age, floral garlands, naturalistic flowers and ornamental motifs. Antique rugs with romantic scenes of medieval times also are typical of the latter part of this era.
Antique rugs of the Abusson style, rumored to have begun in the 8th century, were formally established in 1743, with the advent of a royal rug and carpet factory. The initial productions from this factory were reproductions of key Turkish and Smyrna rugs. Also, designs were less intricate and expensive than those produced in Savonnerie. Later, a new style was implemented here, based off of Savonnerie, to be less distracting.
A Brief History of Antique Rugs from India
During the 16th century, Humayan, the son of the first Moghul Shah, was exiled to Persia by an Afghan revolt ten years after the death of his father Babur. During his nine year stay he developed a taste for Persian art, and upon his return to India he brought with him two reputable Persian artists. Well known for their paintings, these Persian artists established the Moghul school of painting which blended their styles with that of the Indians.
This was the basis for Humayan’s son Akbar to encourage the development of fine arts and artistic industries. The earliest recorded evidence of rug production came at this time, praising Akbar for nurturing artistic weaving and the arts in general.
Early antique Indian carpets and rugs feature free designs, with little symmetry. Floral and animal designs are a common theme, with some of the animals having several heads and devouring each other. Pictorial realism and Hindu mythology are both major characteristics of antique Indian rugs. Abstract symbols and dense ornamentation also distinguish antique Indian rugs from others.
Antique Indian rugs, known for their vibrant colors, were produced with their famous dyes. All the colors of the rainbow were extracted from their local flora. The local fauna produced the wool primarily used for weaving, although silk was readily available and used often.
In short, it is no wonder these ornate works of art are now on western designers minds. From beauty to usefulness and floor covering to wall decoration, antique rugs are here to stay.
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Author, Candance Toscano
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