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.

 

 

How to Choose a Bedroom Rug

A bedroom area rug serves many purposes. It gives your bare feet a warm place to land when you get out of bed on a cold winter morning. It reduces noise in the bedroom, especially if your alternative is a hardwood floor (which while beautiful, can amplify sound). A bedroom rug can also accent your bed covering and window treatments.

A plush bedroom rug keeps your toes warm when they hit the floor on cold winter mornings.

A plush bedroom rug keeps your toes warm when they hit the floor on cold winter mornings.

As with most interior design precepts, there are no hard and fast rules to choosing a bedroom rug — what you like should be the most important factor in your decorating decisions. There are, however, a few guidelines to consider when shopping for a new bedroom area rug.

Placement

First, decide where you’re going to place the rug. If you have an exceptionally large bedroom, you can choose to lay smaller rugs in different areas. For example, place one rug in the corner under your sitting area and a larger, complementary rug angled across the bottom of the bed. If you prefer symmetry, place one large rug under the bed so that it peeks out equally on all sides. For a small bedroom, you’ll be best served with a-rug-under-the-bed solution because small area rugs chop up the space and make the room appear even smaller.

SizePhoto Nov 13, 4 05 06 PM

The size of your bed usually determines the size of rug you need. In a traditional bedroom with a nightstand on each side of the bed, place the rug just in front of the side tables. A king-size bed is 76 X 80 inches, which means a 9 X 12-foot rug will provide adequate coverage on all sides. An 8 X 10-foot rug, meanwhile, is sufficient for a queen-size (60 X 80-inch) bed. Both of these choices leave plenty of soft surface area to walk on all the way around the bed.

Another option for your queen-size bed is to place a 6 X 9-foot rug horizontally under the bed, giving you enough rug to land on when you leave the bed, but little at the foot of the bed, which is ideal if you have a chest or blanket holder sitting there. Alternatively, you can always place matching runners along the sides of your bed with a complementary or matching 4 X 6-foot rug at the foot of the bed (although you can get away with a 5 X 8-footer if you have enough room).

Photo Nov 13, 4 06 58 PMStyle

It’s always easier to match your bedcovers and curtains to the rug than it is to find the perfect rug to go with your other décor. But remember that your taste should trump any convention, especially in your bedroom. Given that overriding advice, here are some specific guidelines:

  • Stick with hand-knotted Oriental rugs to complement a traditional room with cherry furniture, high bedposts, or antiques.
  • If you’ve got a more minimalist style, use the floor to splash color in the room or continue with the overall style and use a rug with muted tones that match your color scheme.
  • Floral patterns on your linens may be more difficult to complement, but if you stick with traditional rugs, you should be able to pull out the primary colors in the room with your floor covering.

Whatever color, style, or fabric you choose for your bedroom, make sure you absolutely love it. It may be the last thing you see before putting out the light every night and the first thing you see when you climb out of bed every morning.

Kannapolis New Arrivals

If you have been into the Kannapolis showroom recently, then you have seen and felt the comfort of our newly arrived Comfort Designs leather sectional.  This sectional, like other models available from this brand, can be customized in a variety of leathers, but we love this piece just the way it is!

Tell us what you think of this room!  We would love to know your opinion!

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Art and Practicality Converge in Gabbeh Rugs

Gabbeh (pronounced “gah-BAY”) is the Farsi word for natural or raw. In this case, it describes the coarse materials used to create early tribal rugs in Persia. The Gabbeh weaving tradition dates back as far as 3500 BC. Those first Gabbeh rugs were made by nomadic women to protect tender feet and to decorate bare homes. While they were practical, they also inspired. The artisans who wove those ancient rugs infused their designs with symbols that displayed their spirit, artistic talents, and love for family. In time, certain symbols evolved to impart love, prosperity, and good fortune to their families.

Modern families can grace their homes with those same sentiments with a beautifully hand-knotted Gabbeh rug from either India or Iran. Since both hand-weavers and modern manufacturers incorporate the emblematic characters found in early Gabbeh rugs, you can find the symbols on all-wool hand-tufted rugs and even in the synthetics used in machine-made rugs.

Each character woven in a Gabbeh rug has its own unique meaning. Some of the most common symbols found on today’s Gabbeh rugs include:

  • The Cypress Tree stands for life after death.
  • The Lion boasts of honor and victory.
  • A Camel is a common symbol for wealth and happiness.
  • Peacocks are holy birds that symbolize the spiritual nature of man.
  • The Dog serves as man’s protector, saving him from his own misdeeds and harm from others.
  • The Cock represents the devil; it’s woven into rugs to protect the owner from outside evil.
  • A Comb suggests cleanliness and brings wishes of health to the family.
  • The Hourglass reminds the family that time passes for everyone.
  • A strip of Clouds sends happiness to the family.
  • A Pomegranate is the ancient symbol of abundant wealth.
  • The Tree of Life, one of the most common symbols, expresses the belief in eternal life.

The characters are woven as small geometric shapes, caricatures of the symbols they portray. On some rugs, they are lined up in no particular sequence, bringing a wealth of wishes to the bearer. Other rugs focus on a primary wish, such as the popular Lion Gabbeh rug that contains one or two bigger lions surrounded by smaller lions in a horizontal pattern, ideal for a family of warriors. Gabbeh symbols may be also woven into a larger pattern made of a floral motif. In these rugs, you may have to look closely to see the artistic symbols imbedded in the overall pattern.

No matter which kind of Gabbeh rug you purchase, the original thoughts and heart-felt symbols can bring an aura of love and good intentions to your home. You may recognize the symbols and be able to interpret their meanings, but even if you can’t, a Gabbeh rug has an uncanny way of snuggling up to your heart and making you feel good somehow. Perhaps it’s the ghosts of the tribal Persian women who loved and cared for their families, or perhaps it’s the actual resonance of the symbols themselves.

Fall for the New Fall Colors

Bring a ray of optimism into your décor with Pantone’s fall pick for 2012 – Tangerine Tango

They do it every season. Pantone, the leading authority on color, releases new colors that you will see in every product where color is a variable: in fashion, in furniture, in automobiles … and in rugs. Dedicated followers of fashion look forward to the hot new colors every season. But even if following trends doesn’t inspire your personal choices, chances are you will find a new color to love.

So let’s examine the new colors for Fall 2012.

Pantone tells us that Tangerine Tango is the number one hot color for this season, followed by French Roast, Honey Gold, Pink Flamingo, and Ultramarine Green. The color trends for fall are not surprising since they follow closely the trends we saw in the spring that suited the mood of the country — optimistic, yet reserved.

Consumer confidence continues to climb as 2012 nears its end, clearly demonstrated in the orange, pink, and green colors that are so lively and vibrant. At the same time, the country is taking it slow and moderating its optimism, obvious in the complementary earth tones of deep brown and gold.

What does this mean for you? These colors are strong, yet familiar. If you like being on the cutting edge, you’ll be able to comfortably slip into this color-way while trying something new. There are sure to be fashion-forward ideas for updating a room or decorating your first home. If you know what you like and don’t want to change, you might find these colors make excellent highlights, complementing your current favorites.

Place these modern glass vases to add a pop of vibrant color.

What does this mean for your home? If you decorate (or redecorate) with these trends in mind, you’ll find it easier to match complementary accessories in your local retail outlets. Stick with a basic brown and gold base for your furnishings. Then add the bright, optimistic colors in your rugs, pictures, pillows, and window treatments.

Set a bright tangerine orange rug in your den under your deep brown leather sectional. Go ahead and bring a loud, happy pink plush shag rug into your bedroom to brighten up a room that’s held traditional dark wood furniture and kept you stuck in yesterday.

Start small if you’re anxious about making big changes. Add orange, pink, and green pillows to every room, for example, or switch out your dried flower dining table centerpiece with a modern glass vase in one of the new colors. These optimistic tones speak of renewed vitality, prosperity and fun. Fall is a season of change. Make yours one to inspire!

Pantone is the company that sets the color trends year after year. The business was originally founded by Lawrence Herbert in 1963 to solve problems encountered by graphic artists who needed help producing the most accurate color matches in their work. Herbert came up with a spectrum of coordinating and matching colors that artists could rely on when faced with difficult choices. The innovative fan color format has since morphed the company into the global authority on colors. Industries ranging from fashion to paint, from digital design to plastics, and from textiles to advertising rely on Pantone and its renowned language of color to set the pace for trends.

He Likes Traditional, She Like Contemporary

He Likes Traditional, She Like Contemporary

Learn how to compromise with your partner on your home decor style preferences

How to meld opposites to find just the right rug

You’re finally ready to put the finishing touches on your newly remodeled living room. You and your partner head out to the rug store to choose the piece that will bring all your hard work together. Your space is fairly neutral, so you can choose any kind of pattern to signal your style and tastes.

All shopping screeches to stop when you get to the rug store, however. As you look through the thousands of selections, a pattern emerges. You like the free-flowing, colorful contemporary styles and your partner is thoroughly rooted in bringing a traditional motif to your room. Are you doomed to living with a bare floor or can you find a happy solution?

San Francisco psychologist Lawana Lofton says all is not lost. There’s nothing wrong with your relationship. It’s normal to have differences and disagreements in a healthy relationship. Once you’ve discovered your divergent tastes, there’s always a way to find a middle ground that will make you both happy. And in the rug business, that’s called “transitional.”

The transitional rug encompasses aspects of both the traditional and contemporary styles. It blends the classic floral and botanical motifs typically found on traditional rugs with bold colors and sharper designs of contemporary styles. A transitional rug brings ancient traditions into a new age with modern interpretations of the classics. And best of all, a transitional rug can appease the tastes of the most discerning traditionalist and the adventurous side of your more modern mate.

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Trend Alert: Script Your Life with Home Furnishings!

Everywhere you look these days in home furnishings and interior design magazines, you will notice a trend: chests, chairs, rugs, and many other pieces are adorned with lettering and words to create a romantic, ode-to-France kind of look.

Perhaps the appeal of this style is the personal feeling that handwritten messages bring in this digital world, or maybe these pieces fulfill the dream of love letters for single and married women alike!  Whatever the reason may be, you will find words and scripts in various forms from English poems, to French quotes, to more urban-looking phrases.

A great way to incorporate this look into your own home is with a single piece to become the focal point of any room!

Use a chest like this to dress up a bedroom, foyer, or even as an elegant focal piece in the living room with a gorgeous pair of lamps on top!

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A Braided Rug Renaissance

There’s no doubt about it: braided rugs are back! Rarely a day goes by without our samples being excitedly thumbed through. Perhaps it’s because, as Norma and Elizabeth Sturges—authors of The Braided Rug Book—put it, braided rugs represent “hearth, home, comfort, family, and love.” Isn’t it amazing that a simple rug can conjure up all of that?!

Braided Beginnings

In the early years, wooden floors of American homes were covered with straw or rush-woven mats. These primitive coverings didn’t contribute much to a home’s comfort or warmth. While European rugs were available beginning around 1750, only the wealthy could afford woolen imports, so the average American used the straw they had. Wool did become readily obtainable in the states in the early 1800s, and, around 1839, the power loom made commercially produced rugs available. However, these coverings were still too expensive for the general public. So, New England housewives got crafty. They already knew how to braid straw mats, why not try the technique with wool, they thought. And the braided rug was born.

Braided rugs were an extremely popular floor covering then, as they were more durable, warmer, and more decorative than their straw counterparts, all while remaining affordable options. Also called “rag rugs,” they could be created from leftover scraps of materials and even strips torn from old clothes and blankets.

It’s thought that the braided rug reached its height of popularity in the early 1900s, during the Arts and Crafts movement. The housing boom and its promotion of wall-to-wall carpeting that occurred after World War II brought their—as well as area rugs in general—decline. Unfortunately, the craft of rug braiding experienced a decline in popularity, too, leaving fewer expert rug braiders to carry on the long-standing folk art tradition.

Rag Rugs Rise Again

Trends come and go, and despite going out of fashion in the 60s, braided rugs are now back on the scene. In fact, since many are taking a “green” approach to furnishing their homes and are opting for area rugs over carpeting—which can negatively affect indoor air quality—rugs in general are experiencing a rise in popularity. Just as they were in the 1800s, rag rugs are durable, comfortable, and affordable choices. They’re reversible and can be made of a myriad of materials—from chenille to cotton and acrylic to wool. They’re also, as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post, symbolic of a simpler time.

We’ve Got You (Well, Really Your Floor) Covered

Rug & Home carries braided rugs by Colonial Mills, a Rhode Island manufacturer who is the leader in braided rugs and who blends old-school craftsmanship with innovative design.  Their braided rugs are 100% U.S.A. designed and manufactured, plus, their styles and designs are fashion-forward with colors and patterns to coordinate with today’s home decors.  You’ll find samples for almost every braided rug in their product line in our stores, and our design associates are happy to go through them with you to help find and order the best option. While you may begrudge the ordering process (and we don’t blame you; it’s nice to leave with a new purchase in-hand), we offer our braided rugs this way so you can get exactly the size, colors and materials needed for your space. And because it’s Rug & Home, you can get them for 30% off the suggested retail price!

Big On Braids?

We’d love to hear why you’re single-handedly helping bring braided rugs back in style. Do you choose them for durability? Their cottage feel? Their symbolism? Comment here! Or, email us photos of braided rugs in your home, and we’ll upload them to our customer Facebook album!

Sources: We consulted a variety of sources for this post. A Google search of “The History of Braided Rugs” brings up many articles. If you’re interested in learning the craft of braiding rugs, check out the book we mentioned published by local publisher Lark Books: The Braided Rug Book by Norma and Elizabeth Sturges, which also includes a detailed history of the craft. You can read a preview HERE.