The History And Evolution Of Antique Oriental Rugs
History of Antique Rugs With Nomadic Origins
When most people think of rugs—in particular, pile rugs—and of their origin, Persia and Turkey are two of the main countries that come to mind. However, countries all over the world develop rugs, whether they are flatwoven, plain weave, or tapestries. Since the earliest times in our history, skilled weavers have created many styles of rugs in different materials. Below is a guide to antique rugs.
More about the Nomadic origins of Oriental rugs and carpets
History of Seljuk and Beylik Dynasty Rugs and Antique Anatolian Carpets
In the thirteenth century, Marco Polo’s journey through Asia took him to Turcomania (Anatolia), which was under the rule of the Seljuks at that time. While there, he had to take note of the remarkable carpets the weavers of that region produced.
A series of carpets and carpet fragments have been preserved from the mosques of Konya and Beyshehir (located in south-central Anatolia). These pieces come from this early period of Turkish rule, and scholars have attributed them to the period when the mosques were first built.
More about the Seljuk and Beylik Dynasty
History of Ilkhanid Dynasty Rugs & Carpets
Islamic culture in Iran, Mesopotamia, and Central Asia was nearly destroyed by The Mongol invasion during the thirteen century.
However, the culture survived, and by the fourteenth century, the Ilkhanid Mongol rulers had been converted to Islam and they became prodigious patrons of the arts.
More about Ilkhanid Dynasty rugs and carpets
History of Timurid Dynasty Carpets and Rugs
During the late fourteenth century, Timur, a Chaghatai Turk claiming he was descended from Genghis Khan, founded the Timurid Dynasty in a region that stretched from Central Asia to Eastern Turkey.
Under his rule and that of his descendants, art and architecture thrived, brought upon by artists lured to the realm.
More about Timurid Dynasty carpets and rugs
History of Ottoman Dynasty Carpets & Rugs
The Osmanli—more commonly known as the “Ottoman” Turks—were one of many Anatolian ruling families, referred to as Beyliks.
However, it took them less than 50 years to become the prominent Turkish dynasty there, and they would rule Western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean until World War I. During that period, some of the most extraordinary pieces in the history of Oriental rugs were manufactured.
More about Ottoman Dynasty carpets and rugs
History of Mamluk Dynasty Rugs and Carpets
The Mamluk Dynasty rose to power in Egypt during the mid-thirteenth century. Originally “slave-soldiers” of Turkic descent, they ended up building a thriving carpet industry in the capital of their empire, Cairo, and many of these carpets have been preserved.
Mamulk carpet designs are known for being extremely complex, with large medallions adapted from Islamic geometric ornament that consist of intersecting compartments of various forms.
More about Mamluk Dynasty rugs and Carpets
History of Safavid Dynasty Carpets and Rugs
The Timurid dynasty would not last long after the fifteen century. Turkoman dynasties in Mesopotamia and Northwest Persia had taken the power away from the Timurid’s in those regions.
Around 1501, backed by nomadic Turkoman troops, Shah Ismail overpowered the Turkoman dynasties and established a new dynasty—the Safavid dynasty—across Iran that would end up lasting until the early eighteenth century.
More about Safavid Dynasty rugs and carpets
History of Mughal Dynasty Carpets and Rugs
If early Aryan rulers in India created any carpets like their nomadic Iranian and Persian relatives did, no trace of them has ever been found. As such, the early history of antique Oriental rugs in India is quite unclear.
However, by the thirteen century, Muslims conquered Northern India. They would come to establish the Dehli Sultanates, a kingdom with strong cultural ties to Persia.
More about Mughal Dynasty carpets and rugs
History of Carpet and Oriental Rug Weaving in the Far East
The farthest back archaeologists can find proof of pile rugs being created is the first to third centuries A.D., during the Han period. These proofs have been found along the western periphery of China. However, it’s nearly impossible to be sure of how early the carpets began to be produced in China since no evidence of them has been found going further back than that.
Historians believe that the Altaic nomads that are credited with inventing pile carpets eventually spread their technique into China, East Turkestan, Tibet, and even into the Middle East and Iran by ancient times.
More about carpet and rug weaving in the Far East
History of Europe and Early Oriental Rugs & Carpets
Examples of knotted carpets were created in Egypt by late Roman times, but there is no evidence that they were a part of the Roman heritage that ended up being passed down to Medieval Europe.
Egypt was cut off from the Late Roman or early Byzantine Empire when it was conquered by the Islamic Empire in 642. During this period, antique oriental rugs disappeared from European material culture. Spain was the only exception, which ended up being conquered by the Muslims in 711.
More about Europe and Early Oriental rugs and carpets
History of the Qajar Dynasty Nineteenth Century Rug Revival
By the time the nineteenth century came around, European buyers were no longer purchasing the number of Persian rugs that they had in the past. The sharp decline adversely affected the production of these rugs in the Middle East. However, it wasn’t the only reason for this decline in production.
When the Ottoman power also began to decline, the Turkish elite developed a taste for western styles. This, in turn, further weakened artistic production, which also included textiles and carpets.
More about the Qajar Dynasty 19th Century Rug Revival
Contemporary Rugs History
Oriental rug production received a huge incentive during the later nineteenth and twentieth century due to European involvement. This was great for invigorating the market, but it also came with its own set of drawbacks.
Most adversely impacted was the realm of dyes. During the mid-nineteenth scientists, German scientist invented new dyes—synthetic, chemical-based, and could be produced much faster than vegetable-derived colors.
View our collection of: Modern Rugs