View our selection of antique Turkish Angora Oushak rugs:
Learn More About Antique Angora Rugs From Oushak
What is Angora?
Angora is a term that can refer to two different things: a breed of rabbits and a type of wool.
Let’s review both meanings of “Angora”:
- Angora Rabbits: Angora is a breed of domestic rabbits that are primarily known for their long, soft, and silky fur. These rabbits have been bred specifically for their wool, which is harvested by shearing or plucking. There are several varieties of Angora rabbits, including English Angora, French Angora, and Giant Angora. They require regular grooming and care to maintain the quality of their wool.
- Angora Wool: Angora wool refers to the fiber obtained from the Angora rabbits. It is known for its exceptional softness and warmth. Angora wool is highly prized in the textile industry and is often blended with other fibers, such as sheep’s wool, to enhance its strength and durability. It is commonly used in the production of luxury garments, accessories like scarves and hats, and other textiles.
It’s worth noting that there are also other animals, such as goats (e.g., Angora goats), that produce a type of wool called mohair, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Angora. However, Angora wool specifically comes from Angora rabbits.
The Iconic Angora Oushak Rugs
Oushak, also spelled as Ushak, is a small town located in Anatolia, the western part of Turkey. The town is about a hundred miles south of the country’s capital Ankara. Since the middle of the Ottoman period (1299 AD – 1922 AD), this little town has been a thriving center for a unique type of rug-making. Known as Oushak rugs, these rugs are highly prized for their exceptional texture, elegant look, and monumental scale of design.
It is not known when rug-making began in Oushak, but Oushak rugs emerged as the favored rugs of the Ottoman royalty and nobility in the 15th century. In the centuries that followed, their fame traveled far and wide and demand came from all over the world. While maintaining quality, they were produced in large numbers to satisfy the growing demand. In fact, no other Turkish rugs have been manufactured for such a long period of time than Oushak rugs.
Europeans first got the taste of the Oushak rugs in the 16th century. In those days, expensive oriental rugs were not used on the floor; rather, they were used as wall hangings and table coverings in the homes of the rich and powerful. Many antique Oushak rugs from those days can still be found in medieval palaces, castles and churches scattered around Europe. Once they became popular in Europe, it didn’t take them long to reach the western shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Although there is no doubt that Oushak rugs originated in Turkey (they are always woven with the Ghiordes knot), they exhibit strong signs of Persian influence. Like Persian carpets, the designs on Oushak rugs are based on geometric motifs – many carpets feature intricate motifs of leaves and vines. Images of humans and animals are rarely used since Islamic traditions frown upon such images. A design that appears frequently is the prayer motif due to the Turks being Muslims.
Beside the high quality and exquisite beauty, what sets the Angora rugs from Oushak apart from other rugs is the exceptionally large-scale design. Another characteristic that distinguishes them from other types of rugs is the use of rich colors created with natural colors and vegetable dyes. Many Oushak rugs incorporate light colored designs or floral motifs sitting on an ivory or golden background. On prayer rugs, green is sometimes used because it is a color sacred to Muslims.
Angora rugs are prized for their rich looks as well as for their high quality and exceptional beauty, which makes them excellent decorative pieces. The rugs are made using the finest wool from sheep, goat or angora. But the ones made with angora wool, are in a class on their own because they are a perfect combination of soft and lustrous texture, exquisite beauty and unmatched elegance. Angora Oushak rugs are pleasing to the eyes and skin, they are also warmer than rugs made with other materials.
While “regular” rugs from Oushak offer rich, delightful decoration on their own, Angora rugs bring an element of luxurious silky softness and sheen.