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Learn More About Romanian Antique Bessarabian Kilims and Rugs
Antique Bessarabian Rugs / Kilims in both pile and tapestry weaving technique are some of the more beautiful carpets to have been produced in Europe. Many of the Bessarabian Kilims were woven around the mid to late 19th century, though some do date back to the 18th century as well. This production that carried into the early twentieth century under late Ottoman Turkish rule in an area corresponding to modern Bulgaria and Romania, they stand right on the cusp of European and Oriental carpet weaving. Many of the designs are floral patterns made in a naturalistic western style utilizing brown or black ground, not unlike certain Karabaghs from the Caucauses. But others, particularly flat weaves, reflect the tradition of Turkish kilims from nearby Anatolia, although in a distinctive Bessarbian palette. In either case they are supremely decorative rugs.
History Of Antique Flat Woven Bessarabian Kilim Rugs from Romania
Bessarabian Kilims and carpets are flat woven rugs that originate in the Russian provinces of the Ukraine and Moldova in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. While most carpet experts will classify the flat woven rugs as Bessarabian they will often refer to the knotted pile carpets as Ukrainian.
The Bessarabian carpets differ from antique Persian carpets in many ways. For example, unlike Persian carpets, Bessarabian rugs cannot be classified to a region according to the way the rugs were woven. Their weaves provide indications regarding the area for which they were created rather than for their classification. The markets these antique rugs were designed for could have fallen into different categories such as a rural market or an urban one. But all other attributes were dismissed and all the Romani made area rugs and carpets are referred to as Bessarabian instead.
Antique Romanian Bessarabian kilims are ornate and they come in a variety of designs as well color combinations. It’s not uncommon for some Bessarabian kilims to be more floral while others may feature more geometric patterns. Bessarabian carpets are made on carpet weaving looms similar to the ones used to make the French Aubusson rugs.
These looms are wooden, and the rugs are flat woven / kilims. The best of these rug types were created in the 1700’s. The Russian Imperial Tapestry Factory was where these Romanian rugs were made, and the factory was created by none other than Peter the Great. He established the Russian Imperial Tapestry Factory following his return from England and France. He was inspired to create the factory after being in awe of the splendid Aubusson carpets, Savonnerie rugs, and Axminster carpets he saw while abroad.
The beautiful carpets he admired while in Europe had already caught the eyes of his Russian contemporaries, and importing them was triggering a financial drain for the Russian treasury. For this reason, the Russian Imperial Tapestry Factory was used as a location for copying the French and English carpets Peter the Great and the Russian nobility desired.
Demand for these lavishly luxurious rugs grew, and additional factories were created in villages. This region is from where these rugs got the name Bessarabian. The region is divided between two territories: the Republic of Moldova and Romania. Bessarabian rug weavers were country people who had a country taste. Though they were tasked with replicating the elaborate motifs of the European rugs, they added their own unique country’s flair to their borrowed rug patterns and designs. This more folksy or traditional approach to the European patterns meant the rugs felt homely. For this reason, Bessarabian kilims are still desirable today.
In the 1700’s, the neoclassical style dominated in popularity in Europe, and it was praised by the court of Catherine the Great who ruled Russia longer than any other woman in Russian history.
Many of the Bessarabian kilims that were created in the factory had elements of neoclassicism. The carpet weaving workshops that woven these magnificent Romanian antique Bessarabian rugs and were established in the provinces knew of the popularity the neoclassical style had, but they instead chose to design their carpets informally like the country weavers in the factory had. The more informal Bessarabian kilims that were made in these provincial workshops blended both neoclassical and folk elements.
Decorative Bessarabian Floral Rugs from the Nazmiyal Collection to Ring in Spring!
Carpet weaving in Russia flourished during the reign of Catherine the Great (1762-1796) who commissioned carpets for many of her palaces. These carpets often featured a deep brown-black ground and a dense overall floral design.
These days, bold and beautiful Bessarabian floral rugs, often with dark backgrounds of black or brown, make a gorgeous and colorful bold splash for any summer home. Take a look at how design consultant Stephan Hamel incorporates his Bessarabian floral rug for the ultimate wow-effect in his workroom in Tuscany. (Image © Paul Barbera courtesy of Vogue Living.)
Antique Bessarabian floral rugs occupy a unique place among European rugs. Produced during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they are supremely decorative pieces, and a lovely way to celebrate the coming of spring!