Rugs and carpets are such an integral part of modern homes that few stop to wonder about their origins. The history of rugs is an interesting one. It started as far back as 7000 BC when shepherds used wool to weave heavy clothes and fabrics for protection from adverse climatic conditions. Over time, it was discovered that the rug made an effective covering for floors. It kept the cold off the ground, adding a snug layer of comfort while sleeping.
As art and crafts evolved, so did the patterns of rugs. Nomads decorated tents with rugs carrying intricate designs. Colours became more vibrant with the invention of the dye. From archaeological evidence, the art of rug making is believed to have started around the 3rd century in the Middle East. Persia was the pioneer followed by Anatolia, China and India, earning the name “Oriental Carpet Belt.” To date, the finest, most intricate rugs are from the Oriental region, racing well ahead of the others in artistry, intricacy, colour quality, durability and finish. In the 8th century AD, when the Islamic empire grew, so did the art of rug making.
Rugs were a part of nomadic Arabian lifestyle before Islam set in. They were used more for protection during sandstorms then. When Islam brought in the practice of praying five times a day, the rug evolved as a flooring covering to sit on. Since then, rugs have been an integral part of a mosque and Islamic homes. With the expansion of the Islamic empire, the rug went places too. Rug craftsmen became storytellers as signs, symbols, special characters and designs came together to express tales of wars and kingdoms in the woven patterns. Today, Persian rugs are an enviable heritage, a collector’s item, worth thousands of dollars, the best of which can last over a generation.
The history of Turkish rugs goes back at least 800 years. The placement of the Turkish empire between the West and the Middle East created a synergy of masterminds that took rug craftsmanship to a unique new level. They came in many forms: knotted pile, tribal; flat-woven, embroidered, angora goat hair, hand-embroidered, prayer rugs and cushion covers. They can be placed on walls or on floors. Istanbul is one of the best places in the world to shop for a carpet. The ones you should stay away from are those made with poor quality wool, coloured with chemical dyes.
While Afghanistan has been popular for colourful, hand-knotted tribal rugs, more sophisticated designs are more commonly seen in Pakistan and India. Carpet weaving was introduced in this region around the 11th century from the time of the Mughal rule. Motifs and decorative styles were integrated to create distinctive designs that continue to woo the world.
Tibetan weavers introduced a new dimension to Oriental rug design because Tibetan natural wool is rich in lanolin which results in the softest, luxurious texture. The rugs are hand-knotted from sheep’s wool and tied with a different knot than Persian hand knotted rugs which gives them a more modern look. The rugs are thinner than their traditional Persian creations.
Since 1979 Shenasi Carpet Limited has been serving greater Vancouver since 1979. We offer the finest antique and new carpets, providing services in sales, cleaning, repair, and restoration of handmade Persian and Oriental carpets. Visit our friendly knowledgeable staff in our spacious showroom to choose from with over 4,000 Persian and Oriental carpets under one roof. Contact us for more information.