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Silk and Metallic Threading Rugs

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.

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

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