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The Amazing History of the Oriental Carpet and Rug

A home is one of the most significant purchases you will make in your lifetime. Many people save for years to choose the perfect house in the ideal location. 

They spend hours shopping for the right decor to help bring out the best in the architecture of their home. Spending thousands of dollars in the process and, in the end, it’s all worth it. 

One way to add a sense of luxury and wanderlust to your home is through the addition of an authentic oriental carpet. These rugs are known for their quality of manufacturing and the sheer artistry that they portray. 

The Influence of Oriental Carpets 

The art of rug or carpet making dates back thousands of years. According to historians, the oriental carpet originated in Iran in ancient times. Yet, the very first written documentation of this type of carpet came from Chinese text that dates back 2500 years during 224-641 C.E.  

Those texts show that the court of Cyrus The Great was decorated with all manner of carpets. Cyrus The Great had such a fascination with the art form that they surrounded his tomb with all manner of rugs. 

Since that time, oriental carpets have become symbols of luxury and status. Their intricate designs, bold colors, and rich history inspire people all over the globe to purchase them. 

In the 20th century, oriental carpets made their way back to the top of every homeowner’s wish list. 

Throughout the 60s and 70s, clothing styles took their cues from Persian rugs as some of the world’s most in-demand clothing designers began adding paisley designs and deep red and gold colors to their fashion line ups. 

Placing these designs on the likes of Bob Dylan or the cover of Vogue and their popularity spread rapidly. The influence of the Persian rug was now infiltrating pop culture, and everyone was running with it. 

The world no longer limited the oriental carpet as merely a rug for your home, but many began to see it as a worthy investment. 

Created with such meticulous detail, the value of a Persian rug accrues over time. The better the condition, the higher the value. 

Knowing the value of Persian rugs, many have opted to use them as display pieces of their homes. In looking at each design and how the gold inlays weave throughout the deep red silk, it’s easy to see why many consider this an investment in art over functionality. 

Yet, if you are one of the ones who prefer functionality first, then the Persian rug is a perfect choice. Made with such durability, they can last generations and are often passed down from one family member to the next.  

The Quality of Detail

If you’ve ever found yourself in front of an authentic Persian rug, then you know the artistry that goes into its creation. Handwoven each rug takes years, if not decades, to make. 

Each rug tells a story; each symbol has a meaning. The colors and symbols give clues as to the indigenous culture where the carpet originated. Animals, plants, and even the colors used all have special meaning. 

Some common symbols and meanings are as follows:

  • Elephant= Power
  • Lion = Victory
  • Rams Horn= Male Fertility
  • Fish= Abundance 
  • Crane= Longevity
  • Dragon= Emperor
  • Peacock= Divine Protection
  • Dove= Peace
  • Crab= Knowledge
  • Bamboo= Wealth and Honor
  • Lotus= Purity
  • Iris= Liberty
  • Weeping Willow= Meditation
  • Red= Happiness
  • Orange= Devotion
  • Green= Paradise 
  • Brown= Fertility
  • White= Purity, peace, or grief
  • Black= Destruction
  • Blue= Solitude, truth
  • Yellow= Power or glory

An authentic oriental carpet will be woven by hand using silk or wool. The dye is a mixture of natural plants and extracts. 

Experienced rug owners will know that knot count is significant when it comes to a quality rug. For a skilled rug weaver, 155 knots per square inch is easy to accomplish, whereas some rugs get over 400 knots per square inch.  

Caring for Your Rug

As many rugs that are for sale today can date back to the 16th century, so if you find yourself in possession of one of the amazing pieces caring for your rug should be a top priority. Even if your rug does not date back quite that far, to maintain its structure and quality, you need to be vigilant about its care. 

Basic care requires a few foundational things. 

UV Protection

UV light damages your rug and causes the color to fade faster than usual. Keeping your carpet in an area that is out of direct sunlight is key to keeping those deep colors intact. 

Cleaning

While you may be used to using an electric vacuum in other parts of your home, they are best to be kept far from an authentic oriental carpet. The same is to be said about steam cleaners and any type of harsh chemicals. A manual sweeper is best and should be done at least once a week. 

Dealing With Spills

Occasionally spills will happen. Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world; however, it does need to be cleaned up quickly. You will want to blot up spills with a moist cloth. Once the spill is up, you will want to wipe down the spot with a clean damp sponge. If the section is still holding a lot of moisture, set the rug upright to help speed up drying. 

Under no circumstances should you use any chemicals, or home remedies on the carpet. Any deviation could damage it beyond repair.    

Long Term Storage

Before storing your oriental rug, it is recommended to have it professionally cleaned. Once it’s cleaned, it should be stored in an environment no warmer than 75 degrees and no colder than 60 degrees. 

An Investment Worth Having 

For the avid investor, the oriental carpet is a wise choice. The versatility of the piece makes it a favorite among both the experienced collectors and novices alike. 

For more details on Persian rugs or to browse our extensive collection, check out our website for more information. 

The History of Authentic Oriental Rugs: Which Countries Do They Originate From?

oriental rugs

While some things continue to change, some things forever stay the same, and that rings true as it pertains to the value of antique Oriental rugs.

Though there has been some evolution as far as weaving techniques or design, for the most part, Oriental rugs haven’t changed much.

It’s hard to determine who wove the first Oriental rug because the fibers disintegrate over time. However, one of the oldest rugs found to date was the Pazyryk rug. 

In 1949, this famous carpet was discovered with 2 tattooed mummies in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. During an excavation of a burial ground, excavators discovered this antique beauty with a sheet of ice that had formed around it.

The ice protected the fibers from deteriorating and preserved the rug from the 5th century B.C.

Keep reading to learn more about antique Oriental rugs and the countries from which they originate.

What Are Oriental Carpets?

Oriental rugs are piled or flat woven textiles. They are hand-knotted in one of the traditional weaving areas of the Far or the Middle East. Persian rugs are also considered Oriental, but they’re made in Iran (formerly known as Persia).

Oriental rugs are heavy textiles. They are both useful and symbolic and to this day, produced in “Oriental countries” for local sale, home use, and export.

Oriental rugs are made using materials such as wool, cotton, and silk.

What Countries Make Oriental Rugs?

Oriental rugs are defined as rugs that were produced in Asia (the “Orient”). However, the term can also refer to specific rug patterns too.

They can be geometric or floral. Antique Oriental rugs can also be open and large scale or refined and intricate.

Oriental rugs originate in areas that fall along the “Rug Belt.” It stretches from Morocco across North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Northern India.

By simple definition, area rugs that were produced in Asia are classified as “Oriental rugs.” But the term “Oriental” can also refer to the specific types of rug patterns. 

By strict definition, Oriental carpets are rugs that are hand-knotted only in Asia. Countries like China, India, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, and Tibet are some of the biggest rug exporters.

Persian rugs (made in Iran) are unusually thick, and they are extremely rich in color and known for their distinct knots and designs. Rugs are typically named after a town, village, or district in which they were created, or after the weaving tribe.

Who Made Them First?

Some of the richest Oriental rug-making traditions belong to Indian rugs, Turkish rugs, and Persian Rugs.

There is also a long history of Chinese rugs, Tibetan rugs, Afghani rugs, and many more. Rugs that are hand-crafted in these regions are Oriental rugs. 

Oriental rugs are both a treasured and revered example of beautiful craftsmanship. By tradition, rugs are hand-made in a meticulous weaving process.

Even though machines make more affordable versions of Oriental rugs, the finest and most intricate versions have been created entirely by hand. You won’t find any machine-made Oriental rug that stands up to an antique one. 

The aforementioned Pazyryk rug, which was found in Siberia, dates back to 500 B.C. History tells us that over 2500 years ago, Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae had the Achaemenian court decked with extraordinary carpets as well.

While there is evidence of Oriental carpets existing so long ago, historians can’t pinpoint for sure where the very first rug originated.

What Are Different Types of Oriental Rugs Made out Of?

Silk and cotton are two of the primary materials used in Oriental rug-making. However, wool is still the fiber we see the most of in these beautiful antiques.

Wool stays clean longer, and it is more resilient. It also cleans up better than other fibers, which is why most Oriental rugs are still crafted using wool.

The dyes used are from insects and plant materials such as madder, oak, sumac, indigo, pomegranate, cochineal, and larkspur. Until the 1870s, these materials were the only sources used to dye the wool.

There has been much debate about which type of dye produces more beautiful and long-lasting rugs, especially with the invention of synthetic dyes. Because natural dyes tend to fade gently with time, they create a much more sought-after patina.

The design of Oriental rugs circumscribes a beautifully complex and artistic symbolism. You can trace a carpet back to its origin by simply analyzing its design.

Rug weavers use colors, shapes, patterns, and symbols that relate to their particular surroundings and culture. 

How Much Do Oriental Rugs Cost?

This question is almost impossible to answer as there is such a variety of price points when it comes to Oriental rugs.

You can find an Oriental rug for $1,000 or $50,000. It all depends on the quality, the age, the size, and the materials.

If cared for properly, Oriental rugs are an excellent investment and can be passed on through generations to be both showcased and enjoyed. If you have one that requires some repair or cleaning, take it to a professional before you try to clean or repair it yourself.

Oriental Rugs Are Antique Treasures

As our world becomes more and more technologically innovative, things continue to change.

It’s a unique circumstance when something stays the same, not just for tradition’s sake, but also for quality.

Oriental rugs are antique treasures. They represent timeless beauty and history that can add dimension to almost any room.

If you want to find something that works with your aesthetic and price point, give us an inquiry so that we can better assist you in your quest for finding the perfect Oriental rug.