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Learn More About Carpets and Antique Rugs Woven In China

Antique Rugs from China are revered for their exotic style, traditional decorations and surprisingly modern appearance. Traditional Chinese rugs showcase mythical beasts, auspicious birds and botanical symbols that bring cultural legends to life.

The far reaching influences of imperial China inspired the creation of related carpets in Inner Mongolia, Tibet, East Turkestan and the edge of the Asian Steppe. On the fringes of Inner Mongolia, weavers in Baotou, Gansu and Ningsia created spectacular Chinese rugs with decorative fretwork embellishments and symbolic medallions. China’s vast influences spread from Tianjin, Peking and Beijing to weavers in Kashgar, Samarkand and Yarkand who created magnificent Chinese influenced carpets.

China has dictated regional styles and trends beginning with the powerful Ming Dynasty and continuing through the 20th century when entrepreneurs like Walter Nichols created dazzling Chinese art deco rugs that are exotic and stylish today.

While China was a big exporter of almost anything and everything, funnily enough, they never exported their rugs or textiles till the early 20th century. The rugs from China were always considered to by part of their heritage and as such, they were woven for their own internal use.

This changed only once the westerners started weaving rugs in China for (mostly) European use. These China made rugs had no “real” Chinese aesthetic. Most of the earlier foreign influenced rugs were made in China were woven to work with art deco style furniture and interior decors. Since these “newly” made rugs did not reflect the taste of the buyers in China, there was no reason why they should export these rugs.

History of Rugs in China

With the first record of rugs dating back more than 2,000 years, it’s clear that the decor has a long-standing history in China. In the beginning, the rugs from China were used to adorn the floor in imperial courts throughout the country.

Around the 15th century and spanning to the 17th, Chinese artisans began creating hand knotted rug designs that were both detailed and inspired by designs taken from artistic silks and porcelain pieces. Other inspiration for these carpets came from imagery of the Buddhist an Taost religions as well as traditional Chinese dragons and other well-known imagery.

The original method for designing knotted rugs from China involved the use of large knotting and rough pile yarns to create thick, luxurious carpets that were both detailed in design and soft to the touch. Very early on, carpets as merchandise became a manufacturing business throughout varying provinces of the country, including Sulyan, Ningxia, and Kansu. One particular city in Inner Mongolia, called Baotou, became well known for their small, symbolic rugs featuring varying shades of blue and landscape motifs. As the years passed, however, the method of manufacturing Chinese rugs, as well as their designs, began to evolve.

With the development of machinery came a new movement in the industry. More modern Chinese rugs are made with machine spun wool. This allows for more efficient and expedient manufacturing processes. In addition, modern designs are more creative and colorful. Many include nature scenery, flowers, and trees. Other modern rugs are inspired by Persian influences. Thanks to modern technology, these rugs from China are sunproof and wash proof, so they maintain their beauty longer.

A difference in the feel of the carpets is obvious as well. The ancient methods of carpet making involved thin single layer warp threads that resulted in a finer, softer feel. Modern rugs are made with a thicker double layer of warp threads. This, along with asymmetrical knotting, leads to a thicker, coarser and more durable carpet. The vast majority of Chinese rugs are now produced in Tianjin and Beijing while traditional carpet making still remains an artisan craft throughout the country.

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