Oriental Rugs can be just as synonymous with quality as the classic Persian rug or carpet. In fact, it is thanks to popularity of Persian rugs and the size of its market, that Oriental rugs were born as other countries tried to emulate the quality and craftmanship of the Persians.
As the countries that copied the Persian style were commonly China, Pakistan and India, the term ‘oriental rugs’ was created.
Like the original Persian rugs, oriental rugs can be pile woven or flat woven using materials like wool, silk and cotton
A standard oriental rug, according to Wikipedia, ‘is a heavy textile made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes and produced in ‘oriental countries’ for home use, local sale, and export’.
The oldest oriental rug is almost 2500 years old. Known as the Pazyryk rug it dates from the 4th Century BC and was discovered during in the 1940s in the Pazyryk Valley in Siberia.
The rug was found during an archaeological dig in an ancient burial tomb in the mountains near the borders of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Due to the construction and durability of the tombs the rug was able to be well-preserved throughout the ages with radio-carbon dating placing it at being between 2400 to 2500 years old.
The rug displays a high level of craftmanship and has a high degree of knots per square inch with 225kpsi. The higher the kpsi the better the quality of rug and possible design. Indeed, the design on this rug, a mix of geometric, floral and pictorial patterns, is considered very intricate and complex.
The most expensive rug ever sold, which was sold at auction in Sotheby’s for almost $33 million, is the 17th Century Antique Persian Carpet. It is believed to be from the ancient city of Kerman and is only 8ft by 6ft in size.
It was a ‘sickle leaf, vine scroll’ carpet with an intricate design of vines, flowers and leaves.
This record-breaking sale shattered the previous record of $9.6 million for a 17th Century Iranian rug which, in its time, was more than double the previous record of $4.3 million.
The most famous oriental rug in the world is believed to be the Ardabil Carpet. Originally made in the 16th Century it contains more than 33 million knots and measures a staggering 34’6”x17’6” and is found on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Made of silk and wool this rug initially started life as 2 separate pieces but after sustaining some damage in the 1800s parts were taken from one to repair the other. And thus the Ardabil carpet was born.
Whilst the rug had deteriorated over time it was once given an expensive restoration in order to preserve this finely crafted piece.
The world’s largest rug is roughly the size of a football pitch. It is 133 metres long, 41 metres wide and has a total area of 5,453 square metres or 60,468 square feet and took almost a year and a half to complete.
It contains an estimated 2.2 billion knots and required approximately 38 tons of wool and cotton in its construction.
It was made by the Iran Carpet Company, and hand woven by around 1,2000 mostly female weavers, at the behest of Emirati officials who wanted something special for the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi. Whilst not for sale it has been valued at just over $8 million.
They Come In A Wide Variety Of Designs
The style, or design, of rug can vary according to where the rug was made and for whom. Similar to Scottish tartan each village may have its own special design.
Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, ‘4 “social layers” of carpet production can be distinguished: Rugs were woven simultaneously by and for nomads, rural villages, towns, and the royal court.
Independent artistic traditions were represented by rural village and nomad carpet designs and when rugs were woven for the market, the weavers adapted their production in order to meet the customers’ demands, and to maximize their profit.
Representative “court” rugs were woven by special workshops, often founded and supervised by the sovereign, with the intention to represent power and status
Oriental rugs can be classified by their region of origin, each of which represents different strands of tradition, which in turn equates to a different style and design.