Archive for October, 2013

Oriental Rugs: Rugs Of Tibet and Nepal

Although historical references indicating the precise origins of Tibetan and Nepalese rugs are unclear, it is believed that rug weaving in this Himalayan region is part of an age-old tradition practiced primarily for use in the home. Following China’s suppression of Tibetan nationalism in 1959, thousands of Tibetans fled their country and settled in neighboring countries including Nepal. Shortly thereafter, production of handmade rugs began in refugee camps of Tibet, most of which were mainly situated in Nepal’s Kathmandu valley. By the mid 1970’s, many of the rugs produced by Tibetan refugees were being exported to various European countries. During the decade of 1980, Tibetan and Nepalese rugs received increasing attention from the U.S. decorative market and exports to America have constantly increased. The primitive, handcrafted look of Tibetan and Nepalese rugs, characterized by highly stylized patterns and tastefully arranged color combinations, has great appeal for the Western consumers.

Originally produced as mats, saddle rugs, door covers, bed covers, and pillar rugs (made to fit around Buddhist temple columns), traditional Tibetan weavings generally reflect the importance of Buddhist religion in Tibetan art and culture. Many design elements of Chinese origin were also adopted and transformed by the Tibetans as evidenced by the common use of the phoenix, dragon, and lotus symbols in traditional rugs of this region. Today, design arrangements featured in Tibetan and Nepalese rugs (those woven by Tibetan refugees in Nepal) range from Westernized adaptations of traditional Tibetan motifs (such as branching floral designs and snow lions) to a large mixture of foreign and modern free-form patterns. Some traditional designs of Persian, French, Turkish, and American southwest Indian have also been used in rugs of Tibet and Nepal. The more modern designs of these rugs display bold geometric motifs on open fields and modifications of Art Deco patterns. Whatever the ethnic origins of Tibetan and Nepalese rugs may be, their patterns indicate an effective simplicity that is intensified by a color band going from the rich reds and blues to the softer purples and grays, most of which are dyed with natural and vegetable substances.

Tibetan RugIn general, Nepalese and Tibetan rugs are woven with hand-spun wool providing their surface with a wonderful depth and richness by means of a smooth variation of color and texture. Some rugs are woven exclusively with Tibetan wool which is typically flexible, lustrous, and relatively strong. However, the majority of hand-knotted rugs are made with a blend of Tibetan and imported wool. Knot density of these rugs vary from 30 to over 100 KPSI (knots per square inch) with the majority around 50 KPSI. The looms used today are somewhat larger than their native forerunners in order to meet the export demand for room-sized rugs. Tibetan weaving features a unique and ancient knotting technique which utilizes the “axis rod” (warp divider) and “Gauge rod” (needle), tools not employed in other rug weaving centers of the world.

Rugs of Tibet and Nepal are increasingly creating considerable excitement among Western buyers due to the fact that they relay the rustic charm, typical of their customary Tibetan counterparts, while displaying fashion-oriented colors and designs available in many different sizes. These bold, wide-ranging patterns and color combinations elevated by a rich texture portray a primitive sophistication which is very unique to these rugs.

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Oriental Rugs: Rugs Of Romania

Since the middle ages, when Romanian weavers learned the art of rug weaving from their Ottoman rulers, Romania has produced hand-knotted rugs for export on regular basis. Production of rugs was very limited until after the second World War when the government-sponsored weaving centers, or cooperatives, were established. At that time, significant efforts were launched to reproduce Persian designs, specially Tabriz-inspired patterns. Since then, Romanian rug manufacturers have been most successful in developing new qualities and designs to meet Western decorative tastes.

Weaving in Romania is performed exclusively by women and is a closely supervised government enterprise. The wool used in Romanian rugs, although relatively coarse, is resilient and lustrous. The predominant quality of rugs produced today is the “Bucuresti” quality in which the tightness of the weave is approximately seventy knots per square inch (KPSI) and is woven on a cotton foundation into a pile of 100% natural wool. Four other qualities, Milcov, Mures, Braila, and Olt are also produced with knots that range from seventy to about two hundred knots per square inch.

Traditionally, most designs have been inspired by Persian patterns. Most popular in the Bucuresti quality are Persian designs such as Heris, Kashan, and Sarouks executed in traditional colors and in a broad range of fashion colors. Sizes range from very small pieces to palace-sized rugs, with hall runners up to more than thirty feet long. In addition, a more limited selection of non-Persian designs has widened the realm of decorative choices available in all qualities. Among these are antique-style reproductions of Caucasian and European rugs such as the floral French Savonnerie.

Old Romanian Rug

Old Romanian Rug

Equally important are Romanian Kilims which are part of a rich folk art tradition. Their best historic examples are treasured museum pieces. Romanian weavers today continue to use traditional flat-weaving techniques to execute the very characteristic curvilinear floral designs. These often incorporate geometric motifs and display a wide range of decorative colorations. Romania offers a tremendous production potential mainly due to its talented and well-trained weavers and to its high quality control standards. Thanks to the weavers’ adeptness at executing a variety of design types in both pile and kilim rugs, today’s buyers have a realm of decorative choices at their fingertips.

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