Rugs & Carpets A Brief History By Guy Schooling
For millennia rugs and carpets have been used throughout the world to make any type of abode, no matter how grand or humble, a home. They were originally conceptualized in order to provide warmth, comfort and for decorative purposes.
It is not know exactly when people started making rugs, however there is evidence that ancient nomadic tribes facing extreme cold began to weave reeds and grasses together as a means of separating themselves from the frigid floor. The practice of rug making as we know today, namely the interweaving of wool and other animal fibres together to create floor and wall coverings, began in Central Asia over 5,000 years ago, with the oldest existing example, the Pazyryk Carpet, found in astoundingly good condition in Siberia in 1949, dating to around 500 BC.
It was the Persians who perfected the manufacture of these pieces, elevating them from purely functional domestic furnishings to emblems of prestige and power, through the use of precious metals and gems in finely woven carpets. Persian examples remain the most popular at auction today, with their rich colours and highly decorative scrolling floral and foliate motifs. Whereas Persian rugs and carpets are largely identifiable for this reason, Turkish and Caucasian types can be distinguished for their more geometric style, although all rugs from these areas can vary hugely in material, decoration and method of manufacture depending on the city, town or village in which they were made, and are often so named. These rugs and carpets became popular in the West through the merchants of Venice from the 16th
century onwards, and have adorned European homes ever since.
Other notable and popular types are those of the Aubusson region of France, with their often ornate floral detail, and those of the European Modernist and the British Arts and Crafts movements. Sworders have enjoyed success selling the stylish carpets and rugs woven at the Merton Abbey Mills for Morris & Co and in Donegal, Ireland. The most striking and desirable are those by influential designers such as Archibald Knox, Charles Voysey, or William Morris.
Despite the softening of demand for what some consider to be ‘old fashioned’ English country house furnishings, antique carpets remain a staple of interior decoration – particularly with the popularity for waxed and polished hardwood or stone flooring. They have the ability to change any interior into an extraordinary space and the huge variety of decorative styles and colourways means that one is sure to be able to find that perfect piece for their home, no matter the interior scheme.
Some key things to consider when buying rugs and carpets at auction:
- Size – choose a piece which is suitable size for the space.
- Condition – be sure to look for tears, stains or areas of wear and reduced pile.
- Quality – with the popularity particularly of Persian and Eastern rugs in Europe, a great many have been mass produced recently to suit the demand. A look at the back of a piece can be extremely helpful in distinguishing an antique hand knotted example from something which has been made recently using a machine.
Arts of the Islamic World and India sale will be held at Sotheby's auction house London on Wednesday 1st April 2020. The sale includes 70 lots of oriental rugs and carpets, mostly from two private collections. included in the sale are many rare examples, one such piece that stands out is a fragment from a well known Turkish Ushak multi tiered saf carpet, lot 253, also a beautiful Persian Khorasan carpet fragment, lot 282. other pieces that should be highlighted are lot 316 a green ground silk Yarkand carpet, a superb early Shahrisyabz susani lot 280, an Anatolian rug lot 263, and finally a beautiful Kashgar carpet lot 322.
Dorotheum auction house will be holding there Oriental carpet, rug, textile and tapestries auction on Wednesday 25th March 2020 at their Vienna saleroom. The auction comprises of 230 lots of rare and high quality pieces, including an unusual Persian Malayer carpet, and a well preserved and rare pictorial Persian Shiraz carpet with silk inlay. other highlights include a beautiful Persian Bakhshaish carpet, which depicts trees of life on an indigo ground, a lovely Suzani, an ivory ground Turkish Ushak rug, and a bold Persian Serapi carpet, and a good looking Persian Mahal rug.
Two sales are to be held in Zurich, firstly Schuler Auctions which has its Oriental Rugs and Carpets sale on Wednesday 25th March 2020. The auction will offer a diversity of special rugs and carpets, some of the stand out pieces are a Agra carpet, measuring over 9 meters long, an Istanbul carpet and an antique Persian silk Heriz rug. In addition to the typical room size carpets, several modern and old Kilims will also be up for auction.
Koller's next sale of Oriental Carpets will be held at their Zurich saleroom on Thursday 26th March 2020. It comprises of 69 lots including many collectors items as well as decorative carpets. One of the highlights is a 18th century Spanish Cuenca carpet, with stylized plant and animal motifs on a blue and beige ground.
The Austria Auction Company will be holding there collector rugs and carpet sale on 28th February 2020, at there saleroom in Vienna. The auction comprises of 136 lots of antique and old Persian and oriental rugs and carpets including flat weaves. The oldest rug in the sale is an Anatolian Ushak prayer rug, date-able to circa 1800 (lot 46), From the 1970s there is a group of Persian silk Qum rugs, also Kashmiri, Hereke, and Kayseri rugs and carpets. The sale also has a selection of Caucasian, Turkmen and Persian rugs and carpets, as well as bags and trappings. One of the better pieces is a late 19th century Caucasian Chelaberd, Eagle Kazak rug (lot 37).
Bruun Rasmussen auctions will be holding there two part Spring oriental rug and carpet auction on the 26th February 2020. The sale will offer a selection of antique and decorative rugs and carpets, the highlight being a beautiful room size Persian Heriz carpet with a weeping willow and cypress design. in addition to the oriental rugs and carpets, the auction includes a selection of Swedish vintage textiles by Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom and other well known designers.
Material Culture's auction of Fine Decorative and Collectible Antique Oriental Rugs and Carpets, will be held in Philadelphia on Monday 24th February 2020. a selection of 235 lots of Persian, Turkish, Caucasian, Chinese and Indian rugs and carpets, along with Kilims and trappings. Highlights among the many decorative room size carpets include a very beautiful palace size Persian Feraghan Sarouk carpet circa 1890, estimated at $30,000-$40,000. A particularly nice silk Persian Heriz rug, estimated at $15,000-$20,000, and lot 95 an outstandingly fine Shirinian silk rug estimated at $15,000-$20,000. Also a 19th century Caucasian Eagle Kazak rug bearing an Armenian inscription and a date of 1857, estimated at $5,000-$7,000.
The second lecture in the Oriental rug and textile society (ORTS) Spring program takes place at The University Woman's Club, 2 Audley Square, Mayfair, London on Wednesday 19th February 2020 at 7:00 pm. Contributing Editor to Hali magazine, Markus Voigt will present on the topic of Carpets from the Tarim Basin and Tibet. At a casual glance Tibetan rugs and carpets might be mistaken for those from Xinjiang (Eastern Turkestan). This talk will examine how two neighbouring but very disparate cultures came to have commercial crossover.
One of the first major oriental rug and carpet sales of 2020 is being held by the Austrian Auction Company, arguably the world's most prolific oriental rug and carpet auctioneers.
The Collectors Rug & Carpet-No reserve III auction takes place on 25th January at the firm's Vienna rooms. The sale has 278 lots with a diverse selection of antique oriental rugs and Persian carpets. There is a special focus on Turkmen and Persian tribal rugs, and a good selection of Anatolian kilims, all areas that were successful in the last auction.
Three rugs that standout from the crowd for their quality and rarity, are lot 30 a Marasali prayer rug, lot 45 a Kagizman rug and lot 163 a Yomut carpet.
The Marasali prayer rug (est: 2,000-3,000 Euros) is unusal for its yellow ground which carries a nicely spaced lattice. The Kagizman rug (est: 2,500-3,500 Euros) is a member of a distinct and refined group of weaving's from the far east of Anatolia that have the deep rust red and deep blue/green associated with the Kars district. The Yomut carpet (est: 3,000-4,000 Euros) is in very good condition and is a particularly fine example of its kind.
The London antique rug & textile art fair (LARTA), will be a celebration of colour and design in antique rugs, carpets and textiles from 21-26 January 2020. Join the many exhibitors showing there collections at Battersea Park London.
The Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS), had decided to move their meetings across Mayfair from Piccadilly to the University Woman's Club in South Audley Square, just behind the Dorchester Hotel. From January 2020 at 7:00pm, ORTS will be pleased to welcome members and guests to their new venue for winter lecture series.
Domotex 2020 the international flooring trade show will open in Hannover Germany from 10-13 January. As with previous years Domotex attracts a large number of handmade rug and carpet producers and dealers, and this year halls 2,3,4 & 9 have been selected to house the handmade Persian and Oriental rugs and carpets exhibitors. Taking into account all of the exhibitors at Domotex, there are 1400 Exhibitions from 60 nations, so there should be plenty of new products to consider.