The Romantic Origins of Oriental Rugs

The Romantic Origins of Oriental Rugs

By definition, an Oriental rug is hand-knotted with wool or silk, made in an area that includes China, Turkey, India, and everything in between. Although different cultures and religious faiths developed their own techniques and signature styles, all are considered “Oriental rugs.”

The oldest known sample was discovered in 1948 in a frozen burial mound in Outer Mongolia near Pazryk. Believed to be from the 5th century BCE, “The Pazryk Carpet” has geometric, floral, and symbolic designs.

The fact that the person was buried with his carpet indicates the personal identification and meaning attributed to the item. The quality of this carpet demonstrates that the art of rug making had become, even by then, a sophisticated practice.

 

cyrus-the-greatOriental Rugs in History

King Cyrus the Great (circa 500 BCE) is said to have decorated his palace with carpets so intricate and so colorful that they dazzled visitors. Historians believe that artisans in the Persian and Egyptian Empires had developed weaving independently by the second millennium BCE. Evidence suggests that hand-knotted rugs existed in parts of Asia and the Middle East more than 4000 years ago. By the 8th century BCE, well-to-do families were using rugs to decorate and personalize their homes — not only on the floors, but also on the walls and even on the tables.

The Romance of Oriental Rugs

Ancient Oriental rugs weren’t necessarily made for practical reasons. As shown by The Pazryk Carpet, rugs had sentimental value. As a modern mother knits booties for her baby, the artisans of old crafted their cleopatracarpets with love to bring beauty and comfort to their families.

The vibrant colors of a rug mirrored the world around them. The symbols had personal and cultural overtones. It acted as jewelry in a time before jewels, a gift that took precious time to make, designed with a specific person in mind. The recipient of a hand-made rug likely kept it close at all times: using it during meals, prayer, and sleep.

In one believably romantic story, the beauteous and seductive Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, sailed across the Mediterranean Sea to visit Rome. In order to gain audience with Mark Antony, she had herself wrapped in an Egyptian rug of the finest texture to be presented to him as a gift. That introduction, as you may know, led to one of the most dramatic romances of all time!

Oriental Rugs Today

Because Oriental rugs developed over time from a very wide geographic area, they are named after the place where local artisans weaved them. The designs, palettes, and techniques link individual rugs to the jaipurindigenous culture that produced it, and experts can often tell at a glance where a particular rug originated. Floral or formal patterns, for example, reflect a more urban artisan, while geometric patterns indicate a rural or tribal rug maker.

Today, most Oriental rugs come from China, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tibet, and Turkey. Persian rugs, a subset of Oriental rugs, are only made in Iran (formerly Persia). These rugs are known for a thick pile, brilliant color patterns, inventive designs, and a unique weave.

The beauty of any Oriental rug is in part tied to its link to the past — in its color, design, and originality. Although Oriental rugs have their origins thousands of years ago, little has changed. True Oriental rugs are still made by human hands practicing an ancient skill. Their romance as gifts also continue.

 

 

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Sari Silk – The Ultimate Recycled Rugs

Sari Silk — The Ultimate Recycled Rugs
upcyclesariSome call it recycling; others think the process deserves a name with a more positive connotation. Thus, the term upcycling was born. Upcycling means taking something that would otherwise be thrown away — in this case, fabric — and making it into an even better product. In upcycling, the old parts do not equal the new whole.
Sari Silk rugs are an upcycling success story. Made from the silk that once graced the saris destined to be worn by Indian women, these rugs have become some of the most colorful, most imaginative, and most sought-after pieces on the market today. A sari is a four-to-nine-yard length of cloth, often silk, that women wrap around themselves as their garment.
sari5Upcycling Saris
The saris upcycled into rugs are typically composed of handspun silk. Since the rugs’ popularity has skyrocketed, women’s cooperatives in India have developed a cottage industry to create the vibrant silk thread that’s then used to hand-knot the fabulous rugs.
The women unravel unused saris by hand, fortify the extracted silk with cotton, wool, or other fibers, and then weave the threads into unique patterns that end up looking like pieces of art — which they are. The breathtaking creations, made entirely of this fortified sari silk, are saturated with colors and are so soft that you may find yourself wanting to leave the sofa to snuggle on the floor.
One-of-a-Kind Masterpieces
No two Sari Silk rugs are alike because of the variety of the source saris collected by the Indian women. Once the fabric has been hand-knotted into rugs, they become the one-of-a-kind masterpieces you can find at Rug & Home.
These hand-crafted works of art contain inconsistencies in their patterns and variations in their colors — elements that heighten their beauty instead of detracting from it. You will experience an infinite variety of sari1color in your Sari Silk rugs.
Caring for Your Treasures
These natural rugs are durable and will hold up for decades if you take care of them properly. Don’t place your Sari Silk rug in a place that receives heavy traffic, but do lay them on top of a quality rug pad, such as those sold at Rug & Home. You may also want to keep it out of direct sunlight.
Put your colorful work of art where it will be seen rather than trampled, such as by a corner sitting area, underneath a table or baby grand piano, or in your bedroom. Some owners love their rugs too much to walk on them, preferring instead to hang them on the wall.
Sari Silk rugs require gentle vacuuming with suction only, although you can have them hand-washed by a professional cleaner as needed.
It’s worth the little extra time and the effort it takes to care for a Sari Silk rug because they will last longer. In the end, you won’t think of them as upcycled or even recycled … you’ll just love and respect the beauty of your one-of-a-kind rug.

The Beauty and Style of Flat-Woven Rugs

Use flat woven rugs in a variety of ways.

Flat-woven rugs are popular, durable, affordable, and colorful … and a must-have for many rug collectors. While they seem to belong to another era, flat-woven rugs are in fact undergoing a revival. Young, upwardly mobile couples to retirees have fallen for the soothing, natural environment these rugs offer.

Typically made from wool, cotton, or jute, flat-woven rugs don’t show traffic patterns like other rugs. They are so thin they work well in a hallway by the door. Since this ancient flooring technique has no pile, you can shuffle across flat-weaves for years with little wear. Furthermore, they are often reversible, so you get twice the life out of them. And they’re so affordable. You can get a 3×5-foot flat-woven rug for as low as $89 and a large 10×13 for around $2,000.

Many flat-weaves contain native patterns that can accentuate a Southwestern or mountain theme. You’ll likely find a variety of colors hand-woven into the rugs, ranging from orange and red to warm chocolate-brown and yellow. Hand-woven flat rugs are nothing if not warm.

Flat-weaves are ideal for a casual or rustic setting in a family room or office.  However, the emergence of contemporary and transitional patterns lends these rugs to work

Contemporary patterns in flat woven rugs have further increased their popularity.

well in any room and with any decor. They work marvelously in a dining room since they’ll last for years, even with the chairs constantly moving back and forth. You can also hang them on the wall, drape them over a chair or sofa, or wrap them around a pillow.

You can find flat-woven rugs in many sizes and styles. The most popular types are kilim, sumac, and dhurrie:

  • Kilim rugs have been made since at least 1000 BC. Long admired for their practical applications as much as for their beauty, kilim rugs are created by tightly interweaving strands of wool. The ends of the strands create fringe, which are knotted to prevent pulling. You’ll find kilims in plain, single-color patterns as well as brightly ornamental designs filled with symbols and ancient characters. The word kilim originated in Turkey, but the flat-weaving process is also practiced in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, and China.
  • Sumac rugs were first made in the Turkish town of Shemakja. These flat-woven wool rugs tend toward geometric designs with tribal overtones. The woven embroidery appears on both sides, making these rugs reversible. Europeans have long valued Sumacs for their durability in high-traffic areas and for their designs that fit any kind of decor, from traditional to rustic to contemporary. Sumac rugs tend to be the heaviest of the flat-weaves, yet they remain reasonably priced.
  • Dhurrie rugs are usually made of versatile, durable cotton. They have been the rug of choice for many centuries in India. Because they are so thin and flexible, various sized dhurries are used for everything from coasters under vases to floor coverings popular in mediation rooms. Dhurries commonly have traditional touches of oriental and contemporary designs, making them ideal for a wide range of casual decors.

Many people consider the different types of these rugs incidental, preferring instead to focus on the patterns and colors. For collectors, however, dhurrie, sumac, and kilim rugs fill special places in the home and are considered sacrosanct.

All the flat-weaves are light; they fold easily for storage and travel. While we suggest professional cleaning, you can immerse these all-natural rugs in water if you wish to clean them yourself. Vacuuming and spot cleaning are usually all the rugs need to maintain their beauty and last a long time.

The Benefits of Hand-Knotted Rugs

Hand-knotted rugs are truly works of art. Each is as unique as a Rembrandt, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece made of love, sweat, and fabric. These wool or silk rugs are creations you can be proud to add to your estate and pass down to the next generation as family heirlooms.

Some people insist that a hand-knotted rug is impractical because they have young children or pets. Others claim that only the colors and patterns of their rugs are important, not the source. Still others decry the price of a hand-knotted rug and question the value.

As you rifle through a rack of hand-knotted rugs, consider the work that went into each piece. A skilled weaver may have spent as long as a year tying each knot. Large hand-knotted rugs often require a team of experienced weavers working for months to achieve the intricate patterns found in these tightly knotted floor coverings. If you don’t want to throw just anything onto your floors, a hand-knotted rug can add grace to any surface.

In addition to the superior workmanship, you will find other benefits associated with hand-knotted rugs:

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