Beautiful Collection Of Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs and Carpets

Rya Rugs (or Ryijy) are the traditional Scandinavian rugs made in Sweden and Finland, and word “Rya” actually means Rug. The vintage Scandinavian Rya rugs that were made in Sweden have extremely long, dense pile and were inspired by the Turkish “Yataks” or bedding rugs. Simple patterns, stripes and geometric designs are emblematic of these textural treasures. Thanks to the recent revival of mid century decors the vintage Swedish Rya rugs seem to have made a strong comeback.

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Interior Designers and decorators are seeking out vintage rugs from Scandinavia and more specifically the mid-century vintage shag Swedish Rya rugs because of their art deco feel and modernist designs. From all the different types of Scandinavian carpets, the shaggy Rya rugs are easiest to recognize due to their pile which is much like the modern day “shag carpets”.

Scandinavia’s fantastic vintage rya Rugs are modernist, luxurious and superbly stylish. With such rich textures, bold colors and abstract designs, it’s not surprising that these luscious mid-century rugs are working their way back into modern interiors. After Islamic textiles were introduced to the far north around the 10th century, it didn’t take Scandinavian craftspeople long to produce their own re-creations. The first long-pile Ryas were worn by sailors and fishermen, and they were also used as insulating bed-covers.

This enduring Nordic textile enjoyed centuries of popularity first as an upper-class bed covering and later as a local handicraft. During the 1600’s, decorative Swedish Rya shag rugs were made for dowries, featured in wedding ceremonies and displayed in homes. The popularity of these luxurious, colorful rugs really took off in the mid-20th century when shag carpets were must-have accessories, and Scandinavian design pieces were all the rage. The scrumptious texture and rich colors of vintage Scandinavian Ryas have earned them a place in stylish homes once again.

History of Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs

Details make all the difference. This is certainly the case with traditional handcrafted vintage rya rugs (ra-yas). These shaggy, often colorful vintage rugs and carpets and wall coverings are a development unique to Scandinavia, but they have also created a sensation throughout the United States – a decorating and handcrafting sensation to be precise.

Although the first Rya rugs and carpets date back to the middle ages, they have become a quintessential part of mid-century modern decor. At first look, ryas resemble the shaggy latch hook carpets made on card tables and dinner tables across the country.

However, their traditional construction and fine materials set them apart as do the exceptional qualities of the rya sheep and their long-staple wool.

Vintage Swedish Rya Rug by Nazmiyal
Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs

Melinda Byrd, a Maryland-based artist and third-generation rya expert, explained these differences, saying that the wool is exceptionally durable and resilient, but you wouldn’t want a sweater made with these coarse fibers.

These unique traits make traditional rya rugs compression and wear resistant. So after years of use, they retain their fluffy, shaggy appearance and luxurious tactile qualities. The backing and parts of the rya that one doesn’t usually observe also make a difference.

While latch hook rugs are made by wrapping pre-cut yarn around a mesh-like backing, rya backings are hand made. Pre-planned spaces between rows of weft allow the artist to make symmetric Turkish or Ghiordes rug knots around each warp thread at a rate of about four knots per inch.

Historically, this tightly woven foundation was made with a wool weft and high-quality linen warp.

Vintage Rya Rugs From Sweden by Nazmiyal
Vintage Rya Rugs From Sweden

The rug’s signature shaggy pile is formed by many uniform loops that are cut open later in the process. Looped pile was common for many years. Anecdotes say that high-heeled shoes made cut pile a safety necessity. In the United States, many people created their own ryas using commercial kits.

These pieces have become treasured family heirlooms that are still enjoyed today. Those who have lived with these objects have a great understating of what makes ryas so special.

Quality is an elusive and sometimes subjective sensation that’s best discovered by understanding the construction process, learning about the value of the materials and seeing the finished product first hand. The current emphasis on quality and style is fueling a modern-day contemporary revival of vintage rya rug making.

Swedish Rya Rugs by Nazmiyal
Swedish Rya Rugs

Home Decorating With Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs

Vintage Rya Rugs are Scandinavian rugs that were woven in Sweden and / or Finland. The word “Rya” actually means “shaggy” which refers to the texture of the vintage Rya rugs. Their patterns tend to be simple and incorporate straight lines, stripes and bold geometric patterns.

Geometric patterns pop out in this Art deco Vintage Swedish Rya rug.
Geometric patterns pop out in this Art deco Vintage Swedish Rya rug.

Because of their geometric designs, the vintage Swedish Rya rugs are prized both for their exciting, traditional composition as well as their important cultural role in the history of Scandinavia. As the interest in mid century vintage Scandinavian rugs continues to climb, so too will the inherent value of fine Swedish Rya rugs.

A Home Decorated With A Vintage Swedish Rya Rug:

Home Decorating With Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs by Nazmiyal
Home Decorating With Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs

The mid century modern movement in interior design has embraced these beautiful and whimsical works of folk art rugs, different from art deco rugs. Designers and consumers have been flocking buying these rugs for their modernist designs and relatively low pricing.

This beautiful shag rug has cool blues and purples with a school of fish swimming towards the center.
This beautiful shag rug has cool blues and purples with a school of fish swimming towards the center.

For the past two or three years, vintage interiors have been all the rage. If this vintage mid century modern fueled trend continues (and we don’t see the interest tapering any time soon) then you can count on the fact that the vintage Swedish Rya rugs will spike in value. Especially as the demand grows while the supply dwindles.

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Shag Vintage Swedish Rya Rugs and Carpets:

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