Handmade Oriental Rugs – A Long Lasting Tradition and History

Rug making is one of the oldest crafts in the world. The oldest known carpet has been dated at the 5th century BC, but the art of carpet weaving has been traced back as far as 7000 BC. There have been numerous references to weaving and rugs in the Bible and other historical documents. Although Egypt is likely the first area in the world in which rugs were made, the art as we know it really flourished in Central Asia.

The first woven rugs that we are familiar with were probably rugs similar to the kilims, which are flat woven rugs. Following this were the rugs we know as pile rugs. They originated with the nomadic tribes of the region, people who realised the value of their sheep’s wool. The rugs that were made were used to keep the home warm and also to decorate the home. The rugs were put on the floors, walls, doors, and windows. They were also used as a way to judge the worth of a wife as the women were the weavers in the tribes and their skills were highly prized.

Because rug weaving was first practiced by the nomadic tribes of Central Asia, their skills were displayed in many areas. This resulted in rug weaving skills being adopted by many different regions. Anatolia in Turkey is one of the oldest known areas of modern rug weaving. The Turkish tribes moved into the area from Central Asia, bringing with them their rug weaving skills.

The Selcuk Turks of the 13th and 14th centuries were the first known Turkish weavers and their rugs tended to have floral patterns and geometrical motifs. Next came the Ottoman Turks, which began weaving in the 14th century, and during the transition animal figures began to appear on the rugs. By the 15th century animal figures were very common on rugs and by the 16th century designs with twisting branches, leaves, and flowers such as tulips, carnations, and hyacinths were commonplace. These types of designs are still used in Turkish rugs today.

In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries rug weaving traditions and skills began to move away from the Anatolian region of Turkey and many places took up the art of weaving, including Usak and Bergama. By the 19th and 20th centuries Hereke, which is near Istanbul, had become a prosperous rug making region. Hereke is known for producing the finest silk rugs in the world.

Rugs can be identified by region based on the materials and the designs and motifs used. For example, rugs woven by the nomads of Anatolia are woven wool on wool whereas the rugs woven in villages and towns were woven wool on cotton. These days the art of rug making in Turkey is alive and well. Many regions follow the traditions of their ancestors, except that rugs today are mostly made for export rather than strictly home use. With the popularity of Turkish rugs, the art and tradition of carpet weaving will be alive and well for many centuries to come.

Source by Hakan Guzelgoz