A Magnificent Rare and Collectible Antique 18th Century Chinese Ningxia Rug, Country of Origin / Rug Type: Antique Chinese Rugs, Circa Date: Late 18th Century – Antique Chinese Ningxia carpets have a transcendent quality that has made them highly sought-after since the 17th century. If one were to judge from this excellent 18th-century Ningxia rug, it is easy to see how this came to be so. The level of detail in this antique Chinese carpet is found in very few places around the world. The colors blend harmoniously to show off the fine craftsmanship of this carpet from China.
Ningxia is located in a harsh mountainous region are Northwestern China. It borders Mongolia and sits on the plain of the Yellow River, bounded by the Great Wall of China on its Northeastern border. The climate of this region made it perfect for growing strong, yet soft wool. Little is known about antique rugs from this region before the 17th century because of its remote location. A visit from the Kangxi Emperor in 1696 and 1697 brought these carpets to the world. He was struck by the beauty and quality of the carpets he found and decided to establish a royal carpet weaving center in the area.
After the establishment of the rug weaving centers of the Royal Court, designs in Ningxia became more formal and reflected the tastes of the Chinese Courts and noblemen. Carpets from the area became a symbol of wealth and power. At the time when this carpet was created, the royal weaving centers had been operating for about 100 years. By this time, Ningxia had become a name that was associated with high-quality antique rugs.
This early carpet uses a complex range of blues, rose, pinks, light browns, dark browns and ivory. The design uses subtle shading to give it depth and create areas of shadow and light within the individual motifs. It based on a medallion design with four rondels in the field. It is executed with precision and demonstrates focused attention to symmetry.
The center border of the carpet is surrounded by what is known to the Chinese as a cloud and thunder pattern, also known as a meander or Greek key pattern. To the Chinese, this pattern represents the cloud and thunder that brings the life-giving rain and the promise of good crops. It has been found in Chinese art as far back as 1050 BC.
The pile of the rug is soft and supple, and it has a fine weave, more like a heavy textile than a carpet. This is one of the qualities for which Ningxia carpets were known. The level of detail and intricacy of the design is one of the fascinating aspects of the rug. For instance, if you look between the regularly spaced motifs in the field of the carpet, you will see that they are not solid, but contain a delicate pattern of precisely executed dots. This carpet has a high knot count, which is what makes the intricacy of this design possible.
Another remarkable quality of this antique Oriental rug is its excellent shape that it is in for its age. This suggests that this carpet was well cared for over the past several centuries.
This antique 18th Century Chinese Ningxia rug is an example of fine quality craftsmanship and work that was produced by the Ningxia Court rug weavers. The design and colors come together beautifully to create a piece of classic Chinese artwork. It is a special piece that would be a beautiful addition to any Oriental collection or Asian-themed room design.