Spectacular Square Antique Portuguese Needlepoint Rug, Country of Origin / Rug Type: Portuguese Rugs, Circa Date: 1920 – This is a rare and unusual carpet both in its design and its technique. This exquisite piece is a Portuguese needlepoint rug from the 1920s. It is a handcrafted piece and has a unique place in history.
Needlepoint is a traditional craft associated with the women of Arraiolos in the Southern part of Portugal. The women could often be seen sitting on their steps with large canvases stretched in front of them, creating beautiful carpets. Needlepoint is a form of embroidery that uses wool on a linen or jute canvas. The designs are created by placing various colors according to a pattern.
Women weavers could often be seen sitting in the shade, working on their rugs together and socializing. These rugs are a home craft, rather than an industrialized process. They were sold by the women to support their family, but there were no formalized institutions for their sale. Each one is a unique piece of handcrafted artwork stitched by unknown, but dedicated, hands.
The craft of Portuguese needlepoint rugs goes back to 1492 when Queen Isabella of Spain issued a decree that all of the Jews and Moors should leave Spain. At that time, needlepoint was a popular craft for making furniture covers and carpets. Many of the refugees landed in the village of Arraiolos in Portugal, where they brought the craft with them. The tradition of making needlepoint carpets continues in this area of Portugal today.
Traditional designs are patterned after Spanish tilework, as with this beautiful design. These azulejo tiles are often found in the architecture of Spanish and Portuguese buildings. They have a recognizable, delicate, hand-painted quality. This carpet mimics the delicate hand-painted qualities of the tiles. Later, the Portuguese women developed other styles and patterns, but works that mimic azulejo tiles are considered to be the more traditional ones.
As you can see, there is more to the story of this absolutely splendid piece than meets the eye. It is part of a tradition that marks an important point in Renaissance history and a handcraft that is still honored by the Portuguese people today. Everything about this carpet adds to its delicate, beautiful character from its colors to its scalloped edges. The design is reminiscent of tiny brush strokes, and in a sense, it is.
It is a square rug, which lends to a range of design possibilities. For instance, it would work well as the foundation for a round table or perhaps placed at an angle in the room for interest. This carpet is a fascinating piece in many ways. It is the perfect addition to a traditional, Arts and Crafts, or classic Art Deco design. It has a refined, delicate character that will add elegance to the room. This is a truly remarkable piece in the world of carpet collecting.