The History of Antique Area Rugs

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Antique Area Rugs

Antique Area Rugs

Antique Area Rugs are just another facet of our evolution. What did we do before we started weaving rugs? We killed animals and used their hides. We used them for warmth, and as floor coverings. Whatever the skins looked like was what the same as the floor coverings.

With the start of the weaving industry began when we domesticated our animals. We used their hair (wool) that we sheared. We did not have to kill them anymore and just sheared them on a regular basis. Thus, they continued to produce wool for our weaving needs.

Once we began to dye the wool, the commercial weaving of antique area rugs began. We produced a more colorful product and used our artistic talents to design them. First we wove rugs for our personal use. Then it became an industry. This industry continues in much the same fashion even today.

The term " antique area rugs " refers to rugs that are at least eighty years old. Limited in numbers, antique area rugs will become more rare.

The twentieth century ushered in the industrial era. From this point on, the economy became more global. This resulted in more Western influences in the Middle East. During this period, the uniqueness of the antique rugs began to wane.

During the early 20th century, economic instability began to set in. The productions became more commercial. They also became less expensive (and as a result, far less appealing). This resulted in the degradation of the rug production throughout. Designs, colors, overall quality and appeal all took a back seat as manufacturers looked to lower costs. True antique rugs are a testament to the time period prior to the advent of mass production. 

A little known fact that I would like to talk about is price. Despite the difference in quality between the antiques and new, many antique rugs might be less expensive than the new ones. The antiques have unique assets compared to their newer counterparts. For instance, antique carpets with hand-spun wool, and natural dyes, have a more luminous surface. New area rugs will never have the patina as the antiques. New rugs have no intrinsic value. Therefore, antique area rugs, are decorative items and solid investments.

Quality and imperfections are more subjective aspects of judging antique area rugs. If assessed on the basis of the wooldyes and weaving technique the process is fairly objective. When talking about the drawing or style, it becomes more of an issue of taste. The same is true with "imperfections". Dropped knots, looseness or inconsistencies in tightness are technical imperfections. Abrashes (abrupt changes in color) sudden changes in design or the borders or ends of the field could be judged as imperfections. But they could also be deliberate changes. Therefore they are part of her or his creative expression.

Some buyers of antique area rugs may be put off by such qualities. These buyers may prefer a workshop rug. The workshop rugs were produced in the cities and are, for the most part, perfectly straight and the colors and design are consistent throughout. Others might appreciate the personality of village rugs. Village weavers confront us every time she or he inserts a willful twist, change of color or pattern. Therefore, the weaver is alive in the antique area rugs that he or she created.