An Overview of Traditional Rugs

The range of rugs falling in the category of traditional ones is very large, but most frequently, the rugs that are referred to as traditional are Oriental rugs from Persia and India, where these have continued to be created for the last 2,500 years. The Oriental comprises of large geographical areas of Asia, including India plus Turkey. The traditional rugs of this region are made using very different techniques, materials and designs, yet have one thing in common: these are probably the most prehistoric and forerunners of almost any other kind of traditional rug. Craftsmen making rugs in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Europe, particularly France, Greece and Spain and even the Americas were influenced by Oriental rugs. Traditional rugs from any part of the world are characteristically hand-knotted from natural materials that include wool, silk, cotton, and they are manually dyed using natural dyes.

Today's information on traditional rugs that the world has is gathered from paintings plus literature, as rugs do get perished, and they are unlikely to carry on beyond a few hundred years. However, the oldest rug to survive is the Pazyryk rug. It was located in a frozen state, buried in a Scythian heap, dating back to the fifth century BC. Professionals who understand rugs are of the opinion that the oldest creators of rugs were from Persia or were wandering tribes from Mongolia; they probably were the first to create knotted rugs incorporating geometrical designs, as well as artistic motifs of plants and animals. The hand-knotted rugs so created were inimitable and contained fascinating irregularities, which crept into rug naturally when weavers would need to shift to new areas, causing an interruption in their work. It is quite possible that the traditional rugs crafted by wandering tribes could reach far off regions of Asia because of their wanderings.

Traditional Indian rugs gained popularity during the 16th century, when Mugal emperors fetched Persian craftsmen. A combination of Persian styles with Indian patterns gave hybrid designs to the traditional rugs. The typical designs incorporated floral, animal and geometrical designs in shades of green and blue over a red base. Though the rugs originally crafted by tribes could be for decoration and practical applications, the newer variety of rugs contained complex designs in finer weavings, mainly meant for decorative purposes.

Rugs from India, China and Turkey became all the rage during the 17th century because of the Silk Route, which connected Asia to the Roman Empire, providing the West an access to beautiful pieces of art. The art of making traditional rugs thus started becoming popular in European countries too, which created their own designs of traditional rugs. In the process, the fame of Persian and Oriental traditional rugs declined for sometime before becoming popular once again during the middles of the 1800s, and continues to be popular all over the world until today.

Traditional rug making craftsmen are also found in North America. Native American Indians created inimitable rugs. They used vertical looms and continuous warp threads. These rugs highlighted geometrical designs having spiritual meaning. During the Colonial times, women produced useful rugs by making use of bits and pieces of rags to save their feet from dirt on the wooden floors.