Antique Tapestry Rugs

Introduction to the world of antique tapestry rugs

What are antique tapestry rugs?

Antique tapestry rugs are highly treasured pieces of textile art that have been created since the beginning of the art of weaving. They are regarded as a prestige item to own and to use in the adornment of any room. The richness of the designs leads one to uncover new details every time they are viewed.

18th Century Flemish Tapestry Pastoral Cupids 47384 - Nazmiyal
18th Century Flemish Tapestry Pastoral Cupids 47384

Antique tapestries can be considered a mobile piece of art that are easily transferred from one home to another. Some of the better known tapestries were created by the French. One such example is the Bayeux tapestry that was created in the 11th century and that shows scenes of the Norman conquest of England. Also, during the 13th and 14th century, the church had created tapestries that depicted biblical events to illiterate the churchgoers.

17th Century Scenic Flemish Tapestry Rug 45666 - Nazmiyal
17th Century Scenic Flemish Tapestry Rug 45666

Some of the oldest tapestries were woven textile reproductions of the works of prominent artists (some may even date back to biblical times).

What are antique tapestry rugs?

Antique tapestry rugs are examples of textile art that were created at least 100 years ago.

What is considered to be the golden age of tapestries?

The best known tapestries are associated with the Renaissance and later Medieval periods. In those times, wealthy people and royalty commissioned artists to capture events and scenes of religious and biblical topics that were important to them.

Who might have originally commissioned old tapestries?

A King might commission a tapestry to show the scenes of a battle he may have won and would then display the tapestry in his castle. Many religious institutions may have commissioned antique tapestry rugs to be hung in a cathedral or church during specific religious events. In those times, a wealthy family may have also commission an antique tapestry to depict the family’s coat of arms.

Antique Flemish Heraldic Tapestry of A Spanish Noble Admiral With Coat Of Arms 2399 - Nazmiyal
Antique Flemish Heraldic Tapestry of A Spanish Noble Admiral With Coat Of Arms 2399

What sizes are typical tapestries?

Tapestries vary in the size and don’t have a “standard” or “typical size“. Some tapestries can be large enough to cover just a small wall, while others may be massive works of art. Other tapestries may consist of a series of many pieces all based on a common theme.

What materials were used to weave tapestries?

Tapestry rugs were woven using many different materials. Cotton, wool, linen and silk threads were the natural materials available by tapestry weavers to create their antique tapestries. They would dye threads of these fabrics prior to weaving them. In addition, some weavers included accents of silver and / or gold threads in their designs. Unfortunately, few of these gold and silver accented tapestries remain today because some were destroyed to recover the precious metal threads.

Do tapestry rugs have specific designs and patterns?

Tapestry rugs will depict a varied and wide range of designs and patterns. Some tapestries will feature artistic scenes that range from battles in action, hunting scenes, landscapes, biblical scenes and also various aspects of daily life. Others may depict pastoral and romantic scenes while others may feature events and people of historical significance.

Vintage Pinton Freres Gynning French Racing Design Tapestry 49574 Nazmiyal
Vintage Pinton Freres Gynning French Racing Design Tapestry #49574

Are tapestry rugs considered works of art?

Yes. For the most part,  Tapestry rugs are considered collectors works of art. Many tapestries are displayed in and part of museums determinant collections.

Antique Historical Italian Tapestry Caesar Augustus Roman Emperor Octavian 47325 - nazmiyal
Antique Historical Italian Tapestry Caesar Augustus Roman Emperor Octavian 47325

Do people use tapestry rugs in their homes?

Many people will buy tapestry rugs to used as decorative pieces for their homes. Many can bee seen in old castles of European royalty. More often than not, they are mounted on walls as artwork, and may even be used as upholstery.

Dining room interior design with an antique Flemish Tapestry - Nazmiyal
Dining room interior design with an antique Flemish Tapestry

Can antique tapestry rugs be used on the floor?

Usually, antique tapestries are not created to be spread on the floor to be walked on. That said, we have seen people use them as area rugs or floor coverings and it is not as uncommon as one would think.

What is the oldest tapestry in the world?

Woven in Sweden during the Viking age, the oldest tapestry in the world is the Overhogdal tapestry which dates to about the 800 – 1100 AD. This is actually not one but a seireis of antique textiles / fragments that can be seen in a room that was designed especially for them in Jamtli. Other pieces can be seen in the Jamtland regional museum and Harjedalen in Ostersund, Sweden.

Oldest Tapestry In The World Overhogdal Tapestry - Nazmiyal
Oldest Tapestry In The World Overhogdal Tapestry

Where were most antique tapestry rugs made?

The most recognizable would probably be the antique Flemish tapestries that were woven in Belgium. That said, tapestries were woven in many different places in the world. Many beautiful and iconic tapestry rugs were woven in countries such as France, Italy and China among others.

What are the unicorn tapestries?

The unicorn tapestries (also refereed to as the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries) are a series of seven tapestries that were woven in metallic threads, silk and wool between the years 1495 and 1505. Perhaps some of the most recognizable antique tapestries in the world, they have been sparking much debate among scholars and art historians.  Questions such as the identity of artists who designed them, the particular order in which they were meant to be hung and even the meaning behind the visual images remain.  While highly debated, in 1942, James J. Rorimer suggested that the unicorn tapestries may have been commissioned to celebrate the 6 December 1491 marriage of Anne of Brittany’s marriage to the King of France – Louis XII.

"The Unicorn Is Found" Antique Unicorn Tapestries - Nazmiyal
“The Unicorn Is Found” Antique Unicorn Tapestries At The Cloisters NYC

If you enjoyed this post you may want to look up some of our other posts about antique Tapestry rugs:

Shop For Antique Tapestries | Antique Rug and Tapestry Market Holds Strength | Vogue’s 2017 Home Decor forecast: Green Tapestries | Barberini Tapestries Reborn from the Ashes | Rare Vintage Marta Maas Swedish Tapestry Rug | Alighiero Boetti Vintage Tapestries and Carpets on Display at MOMA |

This rug blog about antique tapestry rugs and their history was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs which is located in the heart of Manhattan New York City.