The art of Oriental rug weaving dates back into antiquity, nearly 2500 years.
The oldest known carpet, the Pazyryk, which was discovered buried in a tomb in Central Asia, was a finely woven colorful pictorial piece of
textile art.

The Silk Route, which covers a wide region in Central Asia that ranges from Turkey to Persia (Iran) to China, is where Oriental rugs originate. They have historically been made by nomadic peoples, who weave them for their own use and for sale and trade.

Early traders ran their caravans along this ancient trade route to bring goods from the west and return with goods from the east. Included in their westbound cargos were jade, tea, silk and handmade rugs and carpets. These Eastern trade goods were highly sought after by the people of the west.

European merchant traders, dating as far back as the 14th and 15th centuries, traveled to markets in Persia and Turkey to collect rugs for the aristocracy of western Europe. The rugs were treasured for their ability to add warmth to the walls, tables and floors of their cold, dank and drafty castles and to serve as symbols of refinement, stature and wealth.

Oriental rugs became so synonymous with prosperity and stature that noblemen often had their oriental rugs included when their portraits were painted. These treasured rugs also served as valued gifts from royal courts to the local churches and to courts in other countries.

During this time period, the west considered the "Orient" to be mainly comprised of Turkey and Persia. Therefore, these handmade rugs from those countries became known as "Oriental Rugs,” even though they may have been made thousands of miles away!

Traditionally, Oriental rugs have come from a large geographical region, which stretched from Spain in the west to eastern Europe and east to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and China. They also came from the northern rim of Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Iraq and Iran (Persia). Rugs made in each of these regions have their own unique characteristics which identify their origins.

Handmade carpets involve the time-consuming processes of sheep raising, shearing, carting, spinning and dying wool, designing, weaving, finishing and finally, washing the rug, then getting it to the marketplace.

The popularity of Oriental rugs has been cyclical. In the mid-to-late nineteenth century the rugs regained popularity, when the new wealth in America created a huge demand for them. They became modern-day symbols of prosperity and power - the same as for royalty centuries before in western Europe.

The American upper class, which consisted of bankers and industrialist, wanted to prove to
their European counterparts that they were equal in stature and that they too, owned
beautiful Oriental rugs and carpets and used them to furnish their mansions.

It was also at this time that the oriental rug trade was about to undergo a profound change, which was to affect the production of these rugs for almost a hundred years.

The introduction of "synthetic" dyes resulted a reduction of the time and cost to produce rugs. No longer would the "village dyer" be needed to go about finding the plants, minerals or insects needed to produce certain colors. No longer would the gate keeper of these secret formulas be needed. All a weaver had to do now was add the dyes and their mordents to boiling water - to begin the wool dying process. This, along with new wool-spinning machines improved production efficiency and eliminated the need for people to be employed to "handspin" the wool. So, from about 1860, when the first synthetic dye was introduced until about 1985 all rugs produced were produced with machine
spun wools and synthetic dyes.

Then in the early 1980's the beginning of a true rug renaissance began to bud, when George Jevremovic, a successful antique rug
dealer, looked around and wondered why contemporary rugs could not be made in
the same way as the antique rugs he'd been so successful in buying and selling. His influence resulted in a rug production renaissance.

The largest share of rug production in the world today is now comprised of rugs made with handspun wools and natural dyes. This yields high quality rugs with the same desirable characteristics of rugs produced prior to the introduction of synthetic dyes of nearly a century ago. Rugs produced in this fashion are unique, one of a kind - with colors that cannot be duplicated from one rug to another. The natural dye colors, like synthetics, change over time. Where synthetics fade to different colors, natural dyes soften and mellow, and
therein lies the quality difference.

Today , no matter what style furniture or decoration a home or office may have, an oriental rug is always considered appropriate and in good taste.

The magical qualities of these intricate weavings and the subtleties of their colors can enhance any environment with a touch of the orient and reminder of the rich past of the Silk Route.


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Flying Carpet

Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara, Turkey