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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.
What are area rugs from China called?
Rugs from China are commonly known as “Chinese rugs” or “Chinese carpets.” Area rugs have a long history in China, dating back thousands of years, and they are well-regarded for their craftsmanship, intricate designs, and use of high-quality materials.
The handcrafted area rugs from China come in various styles and designs. Each rug style reflects the cultural heritage and artistic traditions of specific region in China where the rug was woven.
Some of the popular types of area rugs from China include:
- Chinese Art Deco Rugs: These rugs are influenced by Western Art Deco styles and were produced in the early to mid-20th century for export to Western markets.
- Peking Rugs: Also known as Beijing rugs, these are characterized by their intricate designs, often featuring traditional Chinese motifs such as dragons, floral patterns, and medallions.
- Ningxia Rugs: Originating from the Ningxia region, these rugs are known for their bold and colorful designs, often featuring traditional Chinese symbols and auspicious elements.
- Tibetan Rugs: Produced in the Tibetan regions of China, these rugs often have a distinct style, with motifs inspired by Tibetan culture and Buddhism.
- Xinjiang Rugs: Hailing from the Xinjiang region in northwest China, these rugs often feature geometric designs and bold colors.
- Yarkand Rugs: Named after the city of Yarkand in Xinjiang, these rugs are renowned for their intricate patterns and rich color combinations.
- Samarkand Rugs: Though Samarkand is located in Uzbekistan, rugs produced in this region are sometimes referred to as Chinese Samarkand rugs due to their historical trade connections with China.
It’s worth noting that area rugs from China may vary widely in design, materials, and craftsmanship, depending on the region and the weaving techniques used. China made rugs have gained popularity worldwide, and they are sought after by collectors and rug enthusiasts for their unique beauty and cultural significance. When purchasing a rug that was woven in China, it’s essential to buy from reputable sellers to ensure you are getting an authentic and well-crafted piece.
Are rugs from China considered “Oriental”?
Yes, rugs from China are often considered “Oriental rugs.” The term “Oriental rug” is a broad and somewhat dated classification used in the West to refer to handwoven rugs and carpets originating from various Asian countries, including China, Iran (Persia), India, Turkey, and others.
Historically, Western traders and collectors used the term “Oriental” to describe rugs and carpets that came from the East, particularly from regions in Asia and the Middle East. The name was a reflection of the exotic and mysterious allure associated with these intricately woven and beautifully designed carpets.
However, it’s essential to recognize that the term “Oriental rug” has become somewhat generalized and imprecise. While it is still commonly used, it can sometimes be seen as Eurocentric or culturally insensitive, as it groups together diverse rugs from different countries and regions with distinct artistic traditions and design elements.
As awareness of cultural sensitivity has grown, some people prefer to use more specific terms when referring to rugs from different countries. For instance, they might use “Persian rug” for rugs from Iran, “Turkish rug” for rugs from Turkey, and “Chinese rug” for rugs from China, among others. These terms provide a more accurate and respectful representation of the rugs’ origins.
When discussing or purchasing rugs, it’s always a good practice to use precise and culturally respectful terminology to acknowledge and appreciate the rich history and heritage behind these beautiful works of art.