Silk and Metallic Threading Rugs

Below you can view our current selection of antique silk and metallic threading rugs and carpets:

The rare and captivating silk and metallic threading rugs

Why were some area rugs woven using silk and metallic threads specifically?

The use of silk and metallic threads in weaving area rugs can be attributed to several reasons:

  • Luxurious Appearance: Silk has a natural sheen that gives a luxurious and elegant appearance to the rugs. The addition of metallic threads, such as gold or silver, further enhances the opulence of the design, making the rug more visually appealing.
  • Soft Texture: Silk is known for its soft and smooth texture. By incorporating silk threads into the rug, weavers can create a plush and comfortable surface. This can be particularly desirable for rugs placed in areas where people may walk barefoot.
  • Durability: While silk is delicate, it can be quite durable when combined with other materials. The addition of metallic threads, especially if they are made of strong materials like gold or silver alloys, can contribute to the overall durability of the rug.
  • Artistic Expression: Silk and metallic threads offer a wide range of colors and can be dyed easily. This allows weavers to express intricate and detailed designs, creating artistic patterns and motifs in the rugs. The reflective nature of metallic threads can add depth and dimension to the design.
  • Cultural and Historical Significance: In some cultures, the use of silk and metallic threads in weaving rugs has historical and cultural significance. These materials may be associated with wealth, royalty, or traditional craftsmanship, making them a symbol of cultural heritage.
  • Status Symbol: Rugs woven with silk and metallic threads are often considered high-end and luxurious. They can serve as status symbols, indicating the wealth and taste of the owner.
  • Tradition and Craftsmanship: In certain weaving traditions, the use of silk and metallic threads has been passed down through generations. Artisans may continue to use these materials to preserve the authenticity of their craft and uphold traditional techniques.

It’s worth noting that the choice of materials in rug weaving can vary based on regional traditions, available resources, and the intended purpose of the rug.

Where and during which period of time were most of the silk and metallic rugs woven?

Silk and metallic thread rugs have been woven in various cultures throughout history, but some regions and periods are particularly notable for their production.

Here are a few examples of the history of the metallic and silk fiber rugs:

  • Persian and Iranian Rugs (17th to 19th centuries): During the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722) in Persia (modern-day Iran), intricate silk and metal-thread carpets became highly prized. The city of Isfahan was a significant center for the production of these luxurious rugs during this period.
  • Ottoman Empire (16th to 18th centuries): The Ottoman Empire, particularly during the 16th to 18th centuries, was known for producing carpets with silk and metal threads. Istanbul and other major cities in the Ottoman Empire were centers for carpet weaving.
  • Mughal Empire in India (16th to 18th centuries): The Mughal emperors in India were patrons of the arts, and silk and metal-thread carpets were produced during their reign. The city of Agra was known for its carpet production during this time.
  • Chinese Silk Rugs (Late Qing Dynasty to early 20th century): China has a long history of silk production, and silk rugs have been woven there for centuries. During the late Qing Dynasty and into the early 20th century, Chinese silk rugs gained popularity for their exquisite craftsmanship.
  • European Renaissance (15th to 17th centuries): In Europe, especially during the Renaissance, there was an interest in importing luxurious items, including carpets with silk and metal threads. European courts sought these rugs as status symbols.
  • Safavid Period in Central Asia (16th to 18th centuries): Besides Persia, regions in Central Asia, such as present-day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, were also known for producing silk and metal-thread rugs during the Safavid period.

It’s important to note that the production of silk and metallic rugs is not limited to these regions and periods. Artisans in various parts of the world have incorporated silk and metal threads into their rug weaving traditions over time, and these materials continue to be used in contemporary rug production as well.

Silk and Metallic Rugs: the Furnishings of Sultans and Kings

Occasionally, one gets a rare opportunity to glimpse into a world that was hidden from most and that has been lost in time. It is a world of the opulence and wealth that built dynasties. Silk and metallic rugs give us one of these rare views of what life was like behind the palace walls and in the gilded halls of sultans and kings.

The Silk and Metallic Rugs of Sultans and Kings

Silk and metal threads are the raw materials for creating some of the most beautiful masterpieces in the world. Silk is one of the strongest fibers in the world, and it can be spun into threads so fine it takes a magnifying glass to see them. Silk holds color beautifully and can produce brilliant, vibrant colors. Silk has a shimmer and sheen that no man-made fiber can ever mimic. When combined with metallic threads, this produces a radiance that fills the room with a feeling of luxury and refined taste like no other materials can do.

Silk and metallic rugs can achieve knot counts so fine that their level of detail gives them an almost sublime quality. These magnificent pieces of history were reserved for sultans, kings, religious objects, and for the only the wealthiest clientele. Throughout many cultures, metallic and silk rugs were a sign of the only highest wealth and status.

Even for the highly trained designers and weavers who created these masterpieces, it was a sign of accomplishment and achievement to be allowed to work on such an article. In most ancient cultures, special guilds were formed for artisans who specialized in the craft. Those who could work with metallic threads were in a class of their own. It often took many years of specialized training and practice to create these pieces that are now considered world treasures. These pieces are a lasting legacy to a world that has since slipped into the annals of time.

The Making of a Silk and Metallic Rug

Goldwork originally developed in Asia and has been around for at least 2,000 years. During the Middle Ages, it reached a remarkable level of skill and was used throughout Europe in pieces for the church. It was prized for the way the light played with the threads. Goldwork actually contained very little gold and was a gold-coated wire of cheaper metal. You can also find pieces in silver and copper as well. Sometimes, these pieces use a combination of several different metals.

In embroidery, the metallic thread is usually laid across the fabric and held in place by tacking stitches, called couching. This was usually done with silk threads. However, rugs with silk and metallic pile use a different technique. The silk thread was spun into a fine thread. A thin metallic wire was then plied with it to create a single thread. This created a thread that had the brilliant color of the silk with an enhanced glimmer from the metallic threads.

Artisans who knew the secrets of silk and metallic threads were rare and considered an exclusive class of artisans. You can find historical examples of these pieces from the Byzantine Empire, Italy, China, Persia, and throughout the world. In every case, such work was reserved for special pieces and special occasions. Many of them were used to line walls of the inner chambers of the royal Persian estates, and throughout the Forbidden City of China. They were particularly prized during the Ming Dynasty, throughout the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Dynasty. However, you can also find a few tribal rugs that use silk and metallic threads, too.

Luxurious Pieces for the Interior

Finding a silk and metallic rug or piece of metallic embroidery is rare. Many of them are on display in museums around the world. A silver rug where the metals have tarnished with age has a charm and Old-World appeal that cannot be found in any modern piece. Copper tends to take on a recognizable aged patina, but gold often stays as brilliant for hundreds of years. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an excellent collection of goldwork, metallic rugs, tapestries, and other pieces.

On a rare occasion, the Nazmiyal Collection has the chance to acquire one of these breathtaking pieces. Although most of the ones that are still in existence are in private collections, one occasionally comes on the market. It is with great pride that we provide the opportunity for you to add one to your collection. There is simply nothing more beautiful than these special rugs to bring a feeling of elegance and warmth into the space. If you see one of these beauties that catches your eye, feel free to contact our knowledgeable staff, and we will be glad to help you.

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