Rugs have been used in homes for thousands of years, sometimes used as floor coverings and at times used as blankets or tablecloths. In modern homes, rugs accentuate a sense of style and can make (or break) an entire room. If you’re looking for a new rug, you’ll quickly find that certain parts of the world have specialized in producing high-quality rugs for thousands of years.
Filled with history and symbolism, a rug can tell a unique visual story that speaks volumes in a living or dining room. Whether you are looking for an elaborate and ornate high-pile rug or a modern flatweave, you’ll also want to consider your rug’s country of origin.
Rug weaving has been a longstanding tradition in the country of India. Skilled craftsmen have handed down their knowledge through generations dating back to the 1600s. Known for a high density of knotting, Indian rugs quickly became highly in demand across the globe. The regions in India most well-known for rug making are Kashmir, Jaipur, Agra and Bhadohi.
A popular type of rug from India is a dhurrie, a thick, flat woven rug, used in India as floor coverings for centuries. Traditionally used for meditation practice, dhurrie rugs are made in 12×12 or 24 x 24 sizes, and can even be as large as 20×20. Made of cotton, wool, jute and silk, dhurrie rugs are woven by hand on a loom. Pure silk rugs are another popular rug type made in India, often produced in bright and striking colors. Traditional motifs often included in Indian rugs are ornate florals and mystic animals, such as unicorns and dragons.
Rugs have been made by the Tibetan people for thousands of years. The trade was brought to Nepal by the Tibetan people in the 1950s, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Since then, Tibetans have continued their ancient craft in Nepal, where the rug industry has become a vital part of the Nepalese economy in modern years.
Beautiful and intricate, Tibetan rugs are made differently than other rugs in the world. At first, Tibetan rugs typically showcased geometric or medallion motifs. Rug makers were limited in the natural dyes they could use for coloring, so antique Tibetan rugs will only have red, blue, and yellow colors with shades of brown and greys.
More recently, now that synthetic dyes are available, Tibetan rugs exhibit multicolored designs and often include creatures like dragons, phoenix, and tigers. Take a look at the Merle rug by NuLoom to see some of these brilliant colors and complex designs come to life.
One of the most widely known types of rugs originates from the ancient Persian culture that once inhabited modern-day Iran. The first historical evidence that indicates that rugs were made in Iran dates back to 400 BC. Over the centuries, Persian rugs have told the story of Iran and how the country has evolved. Today, the culture’s deep-rooted history in rug and carpet weaving is known across the world.
Persian rugs include thick and high-pile varieties, as well as flat woven rugs like kilims and soumaks. Materials commonly used in Persian rugs include wool, cotton, and silk. These fibers are either handspun or spun mechanically to produce the yarn needed to create the rug. When it comes to knotting, Persian carpets typically use either the symmetrical Turkish knot or the asymmetrical Persian knot, also used in India, Pakistan, Turkey, China and Egypt. Generally, you can identify if a rug is Persian by looking at its design. Persian rugs will have one repeating pattern covering the entire area of the rug, continuing beyond the rug’s edges.
Rug weaving in Turkey, once called Anatolia, first started when tribes from Central Asia moved into the area. Chinese culture and the religion of Islam greatly influenced Turkish rug design. The craft evolved in the 16th century when twisting branches, leaves and flowers began appearing on the rug designs. One of the most common motifs on Turkish rugs includes the tree of life. Another is a hanging candle which is a tribute to holy light. More figures include dragons and phoenixes, an allusion to Chinese mythology.
The art of weaving rugs has been passed down for generations in Turkey, and many of the same techniques are still used today. Most rugs from Turkey are made with the symmetrical Turkish double knot. Often two or more rows of wefts are woven into the fabric, resulting in a high pile that feels similar to stroking fur. Usually, a pile is between 2-4mm high in a Turkish rug. Try the Vintage Madeline Rug from Fantasy by NuLoom to achieve a luxurious look in any room.
Although rugs from Egypt may not be as well-known as rugs from Iran or Turkey, rug weaving in Egypt has existed for centuries. Unique to Egypt is the Mamluk rug, different from the oriental rugs of Turkey and Iran by its unique construction that used an “S” (clockwise) spun and “Z” (counterclockwise)-plied wool. By the 15th century, Mamluk rugs were very popular among royalty and were often exported to Europe, considered a prized and cherished symbol of wealth. When the Ottoman Empire took over Egypt in 1517, the Turkish culture influenced many of the designs in Egyptian rug making thereafter.
The design of a Mamluk rug is very complex, ranging between geometric and medallion patterns. Green, yellow and red are the dominant colors in most Mamluk rugs. Take a look at the Mamluk Wonda from Vivid Silk by NuLoom, which exhibits the exciting colors and intricate details typical of a Mamluk. The bright, awe-inspiring patterns make Egyptian rugs timeless heirlooms that increase in value over time. Today, Egypt remains an important manufacturer of both handwoven and machine-made rugs.