Gorgeous Floral Antique Portuguese Needlepoint Rug, Country of Origin / Rug Type: Portuguese Rugs, Circa Date: Early 20th Century – This extraordinary and rare antique needlepoint carpet from Portugal was handcrafted in the early part of the 20th century. Its delicate floral pattern embodies a feeling of an abundant late summer harvest. Portuguese needlepoint carpets are a treat because they hold a special place in carpet history, and this one is a splendid example.
When Queen Isabella of Spain removed the Jews and Moors from Spain by decree, some of them ended up as refugees in the village of Arraiolos, Portugal. Needlepoint was a popular craft of the early to late Renaissance. They brought knowledge of this craft with them to begin creating works to sell to support their families.
The original designs of the Arraiolos needlewomen were inspired by the traditional hand-painted azulejo tiles that are found throughout Spanish and Portuguese architecture. They eventually began developing original designs, but azulejo designs are still popular.
One who visits Arraiolos would often find women sitting on their porch or gathering and socializing as they work on their creations. They made large-scale works that took many hours and months to complete. They are a handcraft that takes time and dedication. As you can see, the results are absolutely stunning.
This delicate, large carpet uses a palette that includes blues, violet, pinks, oranges, greens, ivories, browns and reds in soft hues that are reminiscent of colors that one would find in a beautiful garden. The design itself is reminiscent of the azulejo tiles. One can distinguish what appears to be a center tile surrounded by two half-tile patterns.
One of the fascinating aspects of this carpet is the abundance of plant life that is represented. You can see roses, poppies, budding flowers, pumpkins, strawberries, cherries, plums, grapes and many others. The center of the carpet is a medallion design that has a folk-art character. The arrangement of the flowers and motifs has a formal feel as well, as they are placed following geometric patterns.
This entire antique carpet is simply charming and would make an excellent addition to many different styles. It has an Arts and Crafts feel, or perhaps it could be considered farmhouse. It would be the perfect addition to a traditional or historical room. As a collector’s piece, it is a significant piece, not only for its splendid design but also for its place in the history of the needlewomen of Arraiolos, Portugal.