by Dr. Lori Verderame
History of Rugs
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.
During the sixteenth century, Dutch, Italian, and Portugese exported rugs. Europeans viewed the rugs as luxury objects and placed them on chests and tables as seen in paintings by Johannes Vermeer, and many others. Many collectors commissioned rugs with special features such as their coat-of-arms. By the late nineteenth century, Orientalism had reached America and prompted the collecting of rugs. Persian weaving centers were revived and rugs were created for export. Oriental rugs were officially introduced to Americans at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, PA. Political concerns within the region where Persian rugs are produced have impacted their value and rarity since 1991.
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