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Carpet History

 Turkish carpets

Turkish carpets which are also famous as Anatolian carpets are one of the most famous and established hand crafted works in the whole world. These rugs are much in demand not just for the hand knotted rugs but even the flat woven rug. Rug making has been a very important household necessary for people who resided in Central Asia, exactly where the Turks originated which are why they are experts in this field. Historically there was a very widespread utilitarian necessity for varied purposes like religious, cultural, sociopolitical, economical and cultural conditions which inspired the tribal and the ethnic groups to create mastery like this. The region being very cold and dry the people or the nomadic, pastorals, agrarians and town dwellers who lived in tents or in sumptuous houses used to protect themselves from the heights of extreme cold by covering up their walls, floors and doorways with rugs and carpets. Carpets, especially those made of wool are a very good insulator and these helped the people to survive during the winters. They made carpets of wool and cotton which were mostly for normal household uses and there were also silk carpets that were used for commercial purposes or for occasions that were special.

Along with being a natural barrier against cold these carpets were also being used to enhance the beauty of their tents or were used as decorations. It was not just limited to that but were used even for grain bags, donkey or camel bags, table coverings, used during ceremonial occasions like marriages, ground cushion coverings, oven covers, blankets, sofa covers, bed spread, eating blankets and prayer rugs.

The flat woven rugs which are known also as kilims were first made during the 7000 BC and they came from Catalhoyuk Neolithic pottery. Catalhoyuk is amongst the old settlements that have been discovered and it was located in the south-east part of Konya which belongs to the middle region of Anatolian. The town which has been destroyed has been excavated only 3% but even there were findings of carbonized fabric along with fragments of kilims which were painted upon the walls of the dwellings discovered. These fragments of kilims that were found had designs of geometric and stylized forms which were very much similar to other historical and contemporary designs found in the history of carpets.

The knotted rug which is right now the most in demand because of its quality and uniqueness is believed to reach Asia Minor and Middle East only during the latter part of 8th and 9th century when the great Turkish migration took place and the various nomadic tribal people expanded their livelihood to places other than Anatolia.

Anatolian rugs have always been considered to be very expensive and these beautiful rugs has always depicted as an important asset to enhance the social and economic status of the royals or the owner of the carpet. This trend of aristocracy has been famously depicted in European paintings of The Renaissance and has been there since ages and is still precedent in the modern times.

Though right now carpet making has become a skill many go forward to learn earlier it was a custom for the women of the family to know how to weave rugs. Women in the Anatolia region learn the skill of carpet weaving at a very young age and they start making rugs and carpets which sometimes takes months or even years to complete. These beautiful handmade rugs and flat woven kilims are used to decorate their houses and even used in every other aspects of their daily routine life. Like all other traditional weaving culture it is true that the women and the girls are the great artisans behind the weaving of such amazing piles of art.

Turkmen Carpet

Turkmen carpets are large sized carpets and they originated traditionally in Central Asia. These types of carpets are very big and are normally used for floor covering and they are handmade. You may sometimes get puzzled and think the carpets made by machines in Iran and Pakistan to be a Turkmen carpet but it is important that you distinguish them from those. The carpets made by machines in Pakistan and Iran are usually made for export purpose and are not of higher quality like the original Turkmen carpets. The original and authentic Turkmen rugs were actually produced and weaved by the tribes of Turkmenistan who were the ethnic groups in that area. There are also Turkmen tribes found in regions of Afghanistan and Iran who make such traditional Turkmen carpets. These rugs are not just used for floor covering but for various other purposes like tent rugs, door hangings, bags and similarly many other utilities.

Oriental Carpets

Though rug making started in Asia the industry has gradually increased manifolds and has expanded the manufacturing of carpets in Europe started after the crusades in the 11th century. But those rugs and carpets were mostly used for the purpose of wall hangings or table coverings till the late 18th century. The rugs then used to be very expensive and expect for royal families and the ecclesiastical settings these rugs were considered too precious to be used as floor coverings. There are paintings which were made in the 13th century that were made on oriental rugs and these could be notably found in areas of Italy, France, England, Flanders and Netherlands. By the start of 17th century Europe was introduced with Indo-Persian rugs through various Dutch, British and France east India companies that started their colonies in India.

English carpets

English carpets came into picture in the early 16th century and they were introduced with the knotted pile carpet weaving technology by Flemish Calvinists who fled from religious persecution. During the 16th and 17th century there were various weavers who settled in the South-Eastern England in the region of Norwich and started producing knotted carpets which is why most of the carpets which were produced during these periods are also known as Norwich Carpets. Those carpets had the resemblance with Anatolian as well as Indo-Persian carpet designs and they had their own styles blended into it by depicting Elizabethan-Jacobean scrolling vines and blossoms weaved into it. Every one of the carpets made during this period of time had such blossoms and vines expect for one which had a coat of arms. The weavers here adopted many techniques from various other carpet making weavers and accordingly they adopted many things like they started using symmetrical knots like the French weavers as well. There are carpets from the 18th century manufactories still documented and surviving are kept intact which are owned by varied families like Exeter (1756–1761, owned by Claude Passavant, 3 extant carpets), Moorefield’s (1752–1806, owned by Thomas Moore, 5 extant carpets), and Axminster (1755–1835, owned by Thomas Whitty, numerous extant carpets).

The Exeter and Moorefield’s were carpets which were staffed with renegade weavers that belonged to the French Savonnerie and so they have the pattern and weaving structure of the French factories along with the Perrot- inspired designs. The designs in both these carpets were made by the famous neo-classical designer Robert Adam which is why it has patterns and styles that resembled the roman floor mosaics and ceilings. Few of his very famous rugs that he designed could be seen in Harewood House, Saltram House, Newby Hall, Osterley house and Syon House.

The Axminster carpet on the other hand was one which was very unique than any other carpet and these floor covering was originally weaved in a factory that was established at Axminster, Devon, England. These carpets were weaved by Thomas Whitty in 1755 and its style and design resembled a lot with the Savonnerie carpets that were earlier produced in France. Axminster carpets were hand knotted and were made of wool on woolen warps and they were symmetrical with a weft of flax or hemp in it. The style depicted here were lot similar to the French carpets with Renaissance architectural and floral patterns featured beautifully in it while the other carpets used to have oriental patterns. There were also carpets of similar pattern and style weaved in Exeter and Moorefield’s section of London and also in some parts of Fulham in Middlesex.

With time as machines were introduced and there were more production done through machines the Whitty factory closed down on 1835. The name Axminster on the other hand survived and still in the books as it was used as a generic term for the carpets that were machine made but its piles was produced from a technique which is very much similar to the technique used while making velvet or chenille.

At present the Axmisnter carpet has three different and central type of broadloom carpet construction which is machine woven, hand tufted and hand knotted. Right now the machine woven carpets have become a very broad and growing industry and people invest in it because it clearly would last for nearly 20 to 30 years. The woven Axminster and Wilton carpets are very much in demand and popular in regions and for people which look for longevity and for whom flexibility ihn deisgn is a very important part of their purchasing decision. The big corporate houses or renowned hotels and leisure venues most of the time chooses these type of carpets as they look for long term investment. Similarly there are many homes that go for woven Axminster carpets as being a design and status statement.

The machine woven carpets like the Axminster and Wilton are generally weaved together bobbins of quality carpet yarns and then apply backing on them. They are made from massive looms and could be easily and very intricately patterned. These carpets has the capacity to form a floor covering that not just provide supreme underfoot luxury while walking but also has very high performance which is why they are the one selected first in places like hotels and other bigger business houses.

The tufted carpets on the other hand are very much popular in the houses, they are relatively easy and speed process to make and are much luxurious looking. A pre woven carpet has yarn tufted in the backing and in this process the yarn is pushed through the backing with the help of needle and then the underlying loops are held back. The tufted carpets can be either twisted pile or velvet or even loop pile.

The twisted pile carpet are produced when during the tufting process one or more fibers are twisted together and the end result is such that the finished carpet looks bound together in a refined and toned manner.

Velvet pile carpet on the other hand always has a shorter pile and the construction or the structure is very tight and the finished look appears very smooth giving it a velvety touch. The surface of these carpets are very smooth and soft giving it a very aristocrat look which is why they are used in areas that gives an outdoor appearance.

Loop pile carpets are famous for its hard weaving technique and it lends the carpet section a great texture. The traditional domain of the weaving industry while making the hand knotted carpets and rugs uses their fine expertise to produce carpets that are of the most finest quality and every hand knotted rug is different and unique from another. Almost all traditional rugs feature a very minute but noticeable deliberate mistake in the rug which guarantees their authenticity speaking broadly that they are original and of the finest quality.

A group of six Axminster carpets are together called Lansdowne group and these set of carpets has a tripartite design in it along with reeded circles and beautiful delicate basket of flowers designed in the central panel of it. Around the basket of flowers there are diamond lozenges flanked around the side panels. The design is very unique and very artistic and you would simply love the setting of the entire pattern and how they complement one another.

The Axminster Rococo designs on the other hand often has brown ground in it and has designs of birds in it which is a design that is copied from some contemporary engravings which are very popular. The carpet making industry is huge and with time it is growing in the area as well and even now there is a huge percentage of the 55,000 population who seeks employment in this field. The town of Wilton located in Wiltshire is a small town but is still known and famous for its carpet weaving industry and this tradition has been prominent since the 18th century.

Rugs and Carpet Museums

Around the world there are various types and kinds of museums, in fact every other capital or big city in all countries have museum that represents collections and findings of the past. There are few museums which gains our interest while there are some which are as lame as the dull lights. But the museums that features rugs and carpets have always been interesting and is still are. When you visit a carpet museum you will be simply awestruck with the great creativity and the artistic display of endless collections from around the world. There are seemingly endless collections of carpets and they always have the efficiency to create a sense of charisma to the on-looker. They represent in a charming and luxurious way the cultures of the place where they were made and how they changed faces along with the changing world. These carpets in many ways try to keep alive the age old traditional touch in this new contemporary world.