In non-western cultures, rugs are highly valued works of art maintaining a similar
position to that of paintings in Western culture. Various styles of oriental rugs
are made in Anatolia (Turkey), Caucasus, Central Asia, China, India, and Persia
(Iran). While rug production experienced its greatest flourishing from the 15th
through 17th centuries, carpets and rugs are named for the area in which they are
produced or for the ethnic group of their maker.
Persian rugs are arguably among the most exquisite textiles in the world. During
the Safavid Dynasty (1502-1736), Persia experienced a great flourishing in
rug production at court workshops. Artisans were inspired by book illumination in the
creation of medallion rugs and motifs from painting such as animals, figures, and landscapes found their way into rug designs. Persians had the highest and most
diverse numbers of weaving groups and styles and they are known for their curvilinear and fluid floral motifs with blues and reds dominating the palette.
Herat rugs are the most well-known and feature a central medallion on a wine-red field and a green border.
During the sixteenth century, Persian rugs designs influenced the artisans of
Anatolia and India. Anatolians borrowed motifs from Persian rugs and created
bolder designs featuring floral and geometric motifs such as polygons stars in red,
blue, and yellow. Anatolian rugs were depicted in the paintings of Hans Holbein
the Younger and Renaissance master, Lorenzo Lotto and later named after the
masters. During the Mughal era (1526-1858) Emperors brought Persian artists to
court and imported works of art and rugs which influenced the production in India.
Indian rugs of this period featured floral and plant motifs including lattice
designs, millefleur patterns of tiny clustered flowers, and vines. Some of these
rugs were made of Pashmina, Persian for wool, or wool from goat hair and are
Rugs are woven on a loom on with a warp of yarns placed lengthwise on a loom top
and a weft of yarns placed widthwise. Several different types of looms were used,
but the most popular was the upright loom. The foundation can be made of cotton,
wool, or silk. One method of rug making known as the knotted rug involves knotting
yarns onto the warp yarns. These knots are kept in place by the weft yarns. Several
types of knots are used depending on the maker of the rug and the number of knots
can range from 5 to 2,000 knots per square inch. Piles can be made of silk, or
wool from sheep, goats, or camels.
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