View this Comprehensive Collection of Antique Chinese Rugs
Antique Chinese Rugs, as opposed to most of the antique rug productions, were woven almost exclusively for internal consumption. Since they were mostly sheltered from European and Western influences, this offers us the reason why these carpets have a very unique truly ethnically Chinese look and appeal. In terms of materials, Chinese rugs are often woven from silk, and other materials like wool or cotton.
The art of knotting and weaving carpets was probably introduced in China somewhere between the 15th and 17th centuries. Some of the patterns in these early carpets were borrowed from those same patterns painted onto porcelain and other Chinese art. These carpets showed up in the imperial courts during their time. Today, it’s incredibly rare to find a Chinese carpet from the 17th or 18th century outside of a museum.
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Only during the early part of the 19th century did China open their markets to the countries of the west (for rugs – they have been exporting porcelain, bronzes, wooden and other works of art for many years prior to the 19th century).
It is during this period (the early 1900′s and on) that we see a major and unmistakable change in the production, abandoning the traditional ornamental look to a more open and even Chinese Art Deco design. This shift in production brought with it a more commercial approach to the Chinese rug market with less attention to the quality and artistry of every single piece to more mass appeal look and price. This explains why there are so many of the so called Art Deco Chinese carpets in the market today.
To attain the true essence of Chinese weaving one merely needs to compare the pre-1910 production to the later ones. While the textile industry in China is rich in history and centuries old the earliest surviving examples of the craft are believed to have been produced during the time of Ch’ung Chen, the last emperor of the Ming dynasty who died during the first half of the 17th century.
The Ming dynasty which followed survived until the creation of the Chinese republic in 1912. This would be a good time to note that while most rugs are attributed to a specific manufacturer or region, authorities and scholars attribute the age vintage of any specific rug to the ruling emperor of the time. In stark difference from the other rug weaving origins, in China, the artistic impression far exceeded the importance of the quality of any said piece, the end result being that some of the beautiful pieces have coarser knotting.
Rich in culture, history and folklore Chinese carpets incorporate design almost never seen in any other type of rug. Dragons, local art and ornamental objects are almost always a trademark of these productions. Some of the symbols used in Chinese rugs have taoistic and buddhist religious origins.
Widely seen in Chinese rug designs, one also finds the Pinyan Wan / Swastika (a symbol that has been associated with the horrible acts of the Nazi party) over 3000 years old this symbol, which even predates both the Egyptian Ahnk, is the symbol used to represent harmony and Dharma, the balance of opposites. Chinese rugs are some of the most collectible rugs in the market today, sought after by collectors and consumers alike. They are widely appreciated for their uniqueness for they truly look like no other rug… instantaneously taking the onlooker on a journey to a place and time that is far simpler calmer than the world we live in today (thus achieving the goal of any truly great work of art).
The different patterns seen in Chinese rugs are also helpful in identifying which region in China the carpet came from. Different regions had and still have different traditions and customs that show through in the ways they decorate their weavings.
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