East Turkestan Rugs

Antique area rugs from East Turkestan:

Learn More About Antique Area Rugs From East Turkestan

Lets explore why you should be considering East Turkestan rugs for your home.

Where is East Turkestan?

East Turkestan is a term that has been historically used to refer to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, an area located in northwest China. The region is home to various ethnic groups, including the Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic peoples.

The Chinese government officially designates it as Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, but some people and organizations continue to use the term “East Turkestan” to emphasize the region’s distinct cultural and ethnic identity.

The East Turkestan Area rug

East Turkestan Rugs come from the area northwest of China in the Xinjiang region that borders India, Pakistan and parts of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. The most well known antique rugs originating from this region are those from Khotan and Samarkand. Khotan rugs straddle the boundary between Chinese or Tibetan rugs and those of the Middle East. While the main design elements, details, and drawing appear generally Chinese, the composition with central medallions or allover small medallions in rows relates more to Persian, Turkish, and Turkoman rugs from further west. Khotan and Samarkand rugs also tend to make more use of smaller elements as space-fillers, like western Oriental rugs, rather than using the more open or spare spatial approach of Chinese rugs.

At times even the motives of Khotans are of Persian or Turkoman derivation as well, and they rarely utilize pictorial compositions like rugs in China and Tibet. The palette of antique Khotan carpets is more varied than that of Chinese and Tibetan rugs, ranging from rich colors to soft pastels. Give their strong geometric and abstract drawing, Khotans are well suited to contemporary modern decor. Yarkand is also one of the major producing rugs from East Turkestan and are renowned for their silk rugs.

The region of East Turkestan is located in an unusual fringe area that is sandwiched between contrasting cultures. Its proximity to the Taklamakan Desert and the Tarim Basin made it an unavoidable stop for merchants traveling along the Silk Road. The motifs and varied use of guls, medallions and allover patterns is representative of all the outside influences that weavers in East Turkestan benefited from.

The area’s exquisite pomegranate design motifs and fretwork accents paint an exotic picture that has Chinese influences yet is more exotic and unpredictable. The style and growing recognition of antique rugs from East Turkestan have helped them achieve record-setting prices at auction. Stylistically, East Turkestan rugs are perfect for designers and collectors who want to avoid pigeonholes and wish to create truly distinctive interiors.

Most of the antique East Turkestan rugs and carpets that you will find are going to be relatively large oversized rugs. Most will be long and narrow and for the most part, this is due to the fact that they were woven for the Buddhist monks to sit side by side and meditate. You will find some of these antique carpets were made with silk fibers and it is not completely out of the question to find an East Turkestan rug that was crafted with metal-thread.

Antique East Turkestan Carpets by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Antique East Turkestan Carpets

Just by looking at them, most would think that they are looking at a Chinese rug. The patterns that were used in the antique East Turkestan carpets were very similar to the patterns that were used in Chinese rugs from the same periods. You will be able to identify the East Turkestan carpets by the colors and the fact that they incorporated design elements that were not exclusively Chinese.

Chinese rugs tend to be boldly colored while East Turkestan carpets are more subdued and decorative. The East Turkestan rugs were decorated with many different symbols that were similar to symbols in carpets from other countries. This was mainly due to the fact that the area where these items were crafted was situated along the major silk routs. Traders going east and west would bring to the local markets items from along the entire silk rout. Thus the weavers and carpet designers had been exposed to many different and unique patterns from all over Asia and the Middle East.

Antique East Turkestan Rugs by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Antique East Turkestan Rugs

In today’s antique rug market, most dealers will lump the East Turkestan rugs together with the antique Khotan rugs. Both Khotan and East Turkestan, are located on the main old silk route and they are not that far apart. Due to their proximity to each other and the fact that the same traders would visit both, many of their designs and textures are remarkably similar.

Today’s interior designers are very familiar with the Khotan rugs because they made more of them. Since they are familiar with that term and since both productions are so closely related, antique rug dealers will just use the terms Khotan and East Turkestan interchangeably.

What makes the area rugs from East Turkestan so special?

Area rugs from East Turkestan (Xinjiang) have been historically renowned for their quality, craftsmanship, and unique design patterns, making them highly sought after in the world of rugs and textiles.

Several factors contribute to the “special status” of East Turkestan rugs:

  • Traditional Techniques: The art of rug weaving in East Turkestan has a long and rich history, dating back centuries. Local weavers have passed down their skills and techniques through generations, resulting in a high level of expertise and craftsmanship.
  • Natural Materials: East Turkestan rugs are often made from high-quality natural materials like wool, silk, and cotton. The use of these natural fibers enhances the durability, texture, and luster of the rugs.
  • Unique Designs: East Turkestan rugs are known for their distinct and intricate designs. Traditional motifs include geometric patterns, floral elements, and medallions. These designs often carry cultural and symbolic significance and reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Vivid Colors: The use of vibrant and rich colors is a hallmark of East Turkestan rugs. Natural dyes derived from plants and minerals are commonly used to create an extensive color palette, resulting in rugs that are visually striking and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Knotting Techniques: The rugs are often hand-knotted, a labor-intensive process that involves tying individual knots to the foundation of the rug. Hand-knotting allows for great attention to detail, creating intricate patterns and designs.
  • Collectible Value: East Turkestan rugs are considered valuable and collectible items in the world of art and antiques. Antique and well-preserved rugs from the region are especially prized by collectors and enthusiasts.
  • Cultural Significance: These rugs have cultural significance for the people of the region. They have been an integral part of the local traditions, used as home furnishings, and sometimes as dowry items or gifts during special occasions.

It’s essential to note that the term “East Turkestan” is a historical designation, and the region is now officially known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region under the administration of China. The area rugs produced in this region are still appreciated for their craftsmanship and beauty, despite the current geopolitical context.

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