art of Oriental rug weaving dates back into
The oldest known carpet, the Pazyryk, which was discovered buried in
a tomb in Central Asia, was a finely woven colorful pictorial piece
Silk Route, which covers a wide region
in Central Asia
that ranges from Turkey
Persia (Iran) to China,
where Oriental rugs originate. They have
historically been made by nomadic peoples, who weave
them for their own use and for sale and trade.
traders ran their caravans along this ancient trade route to bring goods
from the west and return with goods from the east. Included in their
westbound cargos were jade, tea, silk and handmade rugs and carpets. These
Eastern trade goods were highly sought after by the people of the west.
merchant traders, dating as far back as the 14th and 15th centuries,
traveled to markets in Persia and Turkey to collect rugs for the aristocracy
of western Europe. The rugs were treasured for their ability to add
warmth to the walls, tables and floors of their cold, dank and drafty
castles and to serve as symbols of refinement, stature and wealth.
rugs became so synonymous with prosperity and stature that noblemen
portraits were painted. These treasured rugs also served as valued gifts
from royal courts to the local churches and to courts in other countries.
this time period, the west considered the "Orient" to be mainly
comprised of Turkey and Persia. Therefore, these handmade rugs from
those countries became known as "Oriental Rugs,” even though
they may have been made thousands of miles away!
Oriental rugs have come from a large geographical region, which stretched
from Spain in the west to eastern Europe and east to Afghanistan, Central
Asia, and China. They also came from the northern rim of Africa, Morocco,
Egypt, Israel, Iraq and Iran (Persia). Rugs made in each of these regions
have their own unique characteristics which identify their origins.
carpets involve the time-consuming processes of sheep raising, shearing,
carting, spinning and dying wool, designing, weaving, finishing and
finally, washing the rug, then getting it to the marketplace.
popularity of Oriental rugs has been cyclical. In the mid-to-late nineteenth
century the rugs regained popularity, when the new wealth in America
created a huge demand for them. They became modern-day symbols of prosperity
and power - the same as for royalty centuries before in western Europe.
American upper class, which consisted of bankers and industrialist,
wanted to prove to
their European counterparts that they were equal in stature and that
they too, owned
beautiful Oriental rugs and carpets and used them to furnish their mansions.
was also at this time that the oriental rug trade was about to undergo
a profound change, which was to affect the production of these rugs
for almost a hundred years.
of "synthetic" dyes resulted a reduction of the time and cost
to produce rugs. No longer would the "village dyer" be needed
to go about finding the plants, minerals or insects needed to produce
certain colors. No longer would the gate keeper of these secret formulas
be needed. All a weaver had to do now was add the dyes and their mordents
to boiling water - to begin the wool dying process. This, along with
new wool-spinning machines improved production efficiency and eliminated
the need for people to be employed to "handspin" the wool.
So, from about 1860, when the first synthetic dye was introduced until
about 1985 all rugs produced were produced with machine
spun wools and synthetic dyes.
in the early 1980's the beginning of a true rug renaissance began to
bud, when George Jevremovic, a successful antique rug
dealer, looked around and wondered why contemporary rugs could not be
the same way as the antique rugs he'd been so successful in buying and
selling. His influence resulted in a rug production renaissance.
largest share of rug production in the world today is now comprised
of rugs made with handspun wools and natural dyes. This yields high
quality rugs with the same desirable characteristics of rugs produced
prior to the introduction of synthetic dyes of nearly a century ago.
Rugs produced in this fashion are unique, one of a kind - with colors
that cannot be duplicated from one rug to another. The natural dye colors,
like synthetics, change over time. Where synthetics fade to different
colors, natural dyes soften and mellow, and
therein lies the quality difference.
, no matter what style furniture or decoration a home or office may
have, an oriental rug is always considered appropriate and in good taste.
The magical qualities of these intricate weavings and the subtleties
of their colors can enhance any environment with a touch of the orient
and reminder of the rich past of the Silk Route.