The Leading Antique
and Vintage Rug Company
since 1965


showing 151 - 165 of 190 post(s)

Apple Ping

09-21-2010  |  By: Richard |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Apple Computers has issued press releases for some upgrades to some of their technology and a couple of new products.  Some people like to purchase the newest technological toys as soon as they hit the market.  Other folks like to wait a bit for the technology to stabilize before purchase.

Theres a new version of Apples iTunes.  For music fans, iTunes and the iPod have been a nice addition to their electronics.  iTunes allows the user to download individual songs, mostly for $.99 each (shades of the cost of the old 45s for those old enough to understand the reference).  iTunes also allows the user to play CDs and import the songs to the hard drive of Macintosh or PC machines, where they can be synced up with the owners iPod.

iTunes also allows access to many different styles of music through various online radio streaming covering most every genre of music.  It even allows the user to rent movies and TV shows and watch them on Macs or PCs.

Now the look of technology offers a bit of a contrast to traditionalists who might prefer things more along the lines of antique Persian rugs but the two are not incompatible.  The antique Persian rugs can help to soften the sound of the electronics.  The vintage rugs, some with muted colors, others with bright, vibrant colors can contrast to the lines and colors of the iPod or Macintosh.  The iPods often seem to come in pastels and the contrast with the natural shadings of the antique rugs can be the contrast of nature versus machine.

But not everyone who purchases iPods and iTunes wants to shop from the latest Ikea catalog.  There are many technology lovers who prefer to live amongst antiques but still like to have access to the latest technological widgets.  They want to kick back in the antique leather easy chair, with their feet resting on the antique Persian rug but want to watch their state of the art television set up on the antique sideboard while they have the music playing on their Macintosh laptop.  They see the mix of the old and new as almost a political statement.  They can take what they want from the new technology of today while still living with the comforts that years ago would have been available only to those of the upper class.  The technological tools and toys of today are far superior to those of even ten years ago and those of ten years from now will be superior to todays.

But the comforts of the antiques will still be there in one hundred years, just as they were one hundred years ago.

Chilean Miners Still Trapped

09-13-2010  |  By: Richard |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Thirty-three miners were trapped in a mine in Chile.  They were found alive after seventeen days when a rescue effort managed to break through with a small probe to an area where the miners had managed to escape to.  That was the good news.  The bad news is that the actual rescue may take up to four months.  And the miners will have to lose enough weight to get their waist lines down to thirty-three to thirty-five inches.

Chilean authorities have contacted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for assistance in helping the miners in psychological coping for this extended period.  They are being provided with various nutritional substances, after having lived on emergency rations of two spoons of tuna, a sip of milk, a bite of cracker and a peach morsel until the initial contact with them was made.  They have three holes, one for supplies, one for communications, and one for air.

The magnitude and length of this rescue effort is the largest and lengthiest in history.  In 2009, there were three miners trapped in a flooded mine in Southern China who were rescued after twenty-five days.  These miners may well be rescued after five times of that.

Now these miners are not luxuriating in any splendor, lying about on antique Persian rugs.  The area they are trapped in is roughly two kilometers in size.  The rescue authorities are mapping out areas for walking and exercising, resting, working, and diversions.  The miners are being encouraged to exercise and to even have fun.  They are being encouraged to document the experience for their families and loved ones as well as other forms of entertainment.  They are not being told the length of time it will take before the rescue is complete and everyone communicating with them is being asked to keep the four month period a secret.  All the miners know is that it will be a long time.

When the rescue is complete and these thirty-three men are back on the surface, their ordeal will still not be complete.  They will most likely suffer ongoing psychological problems from the ordeal of being trapped below ground for months.  They will need counseling and most likely new forms of employment.  After all, how many individuals would be willing to return underground after having spent four to five months below ground in the darkness?

They may well get the opportunity to sell their stories and receive enough money to retire.  Then they can get that antique Persian Rug and lie around on it for the rest of their lives.  Probably in a nice, wide open spot piece of land.


Help Pakistan and Decorate at the Same Time

09-06-2010  |  By: Reba |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Pakistan has been suffering with horrible flooding. Food and clothing are greatly needed but they don't only need aid money. After the initial disaster relief is provided rebuilding their vintage rug industry is vital. Keeping industry and exporting goods can help any economy and a part of the economy built on skilled labor especially skills outside a traditional education can allow those workers to get back to work and feeling productive. Crops may have washed away, but their hands can still work and earn a living while the rest of the economy gets back on its feet.

In areas where Islam has great influence and prevents many women from working outside the home supporting a job that can be done at home is a great boon. Those women can earn money and gain influence in their society. Pakistan's rug industry is young, only dating back to the close of World War II, but it still produces rugs and the entire area needs the real economic help that can only come through trade for skilled work. Food aid is great when disasters like the recent flooding occur, but even more useful is trade partners that allow workers to see what can come to them when they are part of the global economy.

Trade brings information back and forth. Even isolated persons have to get supplies like wool, cotton, and silk. Those supplies come from people who pass on news with the supplies. They bring back positive feedback and a sales receipt from around the world. The weaver can express their feelings through the craft as well. They can send a piece of themselves off into the world and with it goes their hope and prayers. Devastation will have occurred, but each rug can represent a new beginning, a new piece of beauty in the world.

Many rugs out of Pakistan would just start receiving the status of an antique rug, but as their work expands and receives recognition the newer art can be funded. The connection Persian rugs still provide allows those in Iran and Iraq to hold some sense of pride about history. Modern politics are a blip to a national identity that dates back to the before the time of Christ. Reminding folks who are going through natural disasters that this too shall pass can be done by focusing on old crafts that have only gotten better with time.

Antique rugs have proven that traditional crafts have no care of the decade. Good craftsmanship is good craftsmanship and will, with luck, last for a great long time to yet to come.


Ramadan is About Fasting and Prayer, An Antique Carpet is about Luxury

08-31-2010  |  By: Reba |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Persian rugs are symbols of luxury and wealth to many in the western world. In the Persian region like Iraq, Pakistan and Iran they are part of daily life and would not be out of place during a fasting time of Ramadan. Rugs are used during prayer times and because of the labor intensive creation many hours of prayer and contemplation go into any single carpet. Knitting and crochet, much more western forms of art have created their own version of the prayer rug, but rather than kneeling which is only practiced in a few Christian traditions, shawls are being created with a prayerful mind. The repetitive and time consuming nature of the art lends itself to both chatter and meditation.

Ramadan is about taking time to think about the wrong paths that have been taken in the past, and contemplating how to improve the future. This is similar to Lent for Christians. This slower more contemplative mindset is perfect for working on a piece of art that develops slowly. Even fast moving hands would take months to progress through a hand-woven rug. Those sturdy knots will likely survive the maker and help pass on the prayers of a better tomorrow to the future.

Remembering the hands that created any art work, even one made for being walked on can help a person to understand its value. Antique rugs have also stood a test of time. Their knots have proven sturdy. To classify as antique a rug will be at least 50 years old. This puts it minimally as old as the movie Wizard of Oz. Many of these rugs though are much older, as the tradition dates back before written history. The Muslim connection of the region also explains why some colors are more prevalent and others not as much. Green is closely linked to Muhammad and would probably not be put into a rug that was to be walked on. Some Antique carpets are woven with the expectation of a rug being hung. Because of the prohibition on pictorial representations of a person, one is more likely to use color to represent the divine or holy in decorations. This is similar to the idea in the western world of purple being the color of wealth and royalty and white more closely linked with the divine.

So as Muslims around the world take a month to slow down their world and pray over a better path for the future, take a moment to slow down and respect, if not the faith, than the hands that created the Antique rugs underfoot.


A Greater Sense of History can Help those Interested in Blending Antique Rugs into their Lives

08-23-2010  |  By: Richard |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
Antique rugs connect with an understanding of the past. This past is remembered through their rugs. Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Iran have two distinct frames of reference for those living in the Western world. In the territory of those people there is just one story and it has been woven into the very Antique carpets under consideration. Modern news is about bloodshed and Muslim extremists, but this is a recent blip in the Arab world.

The culture read about in the Christian Bible has transformed and evolved into a modern one where Christians and Muslims have had to learn to live together with good and not as good results. American Christians like to marvel at the two factions of Islam, but anyone from Northern Ireland can tell a person just how similar Christianity can be. That territory was torn apart by differences of faith that had a lot more to do with differences of power and money. With the need for more warm clothing than protected floors and walls, they wore their history in woven tartans and knitted sweaters and imported their Antique rugs.

The same red and blue state differences of opinion that are being played out of Fox and Friends versus MSNBC are found in Shiite and Sunni battles. Arab battles have been fought with bullets mostly because both sides have been armed for decades fighting over scarce resources and greater amounts oil money.  American's have had such levels of wealth and prosperity that killing was not a necessity. Remember American's came to their territory eventually killed most of those living on it and then expanded in greater and greater numbers across the land, those in the Arab lands have only been able to expand though fighting for territory since the biblical times.  

Antique wool rugs and their movement around the world show just how expansion has been able to happen culturally if not in person. Just as Twitter revolutions occur in Iran, and Blackberry's have been cracked down on in the United Arab Emirates, much of their older history has flowed back across the ocean. Muslims are part of the fabric of America. They have their pockets of Main Street just as the Italians and Irish. They are also escaping poverty and power grabs in their own countries. Hummus and pita joins salsa and tortilla chips. The Western world has a new patch in its crazy quilt. Sari's and sarongs have an even older cousin coming to the party, a patch that has been under everyones collective feet through shared heritage and trade.  

Will Magic Trackpads Make Mice the Next Sought After Antique?

08-18-2010  |  By: Reba |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Apple Computers has developed a product they are calling a Magic Trackpad and industry speculation is buzzing that Apple is hopeful of the Magic Trackpad eventually replacing the standard mouse as the method by which users move the cursor around the screen on their computers. 


Many laptop computers, whether from Apple Computers or from manufacturers of Windows based machines, have had trackpads available for years.  There have even been Windows machines that allowed an external trackpad to be attached to a desktop machine instead of a mouse.  Users who advocate for the trackpad have found it easier to use than the mouse and have found it leaves them far less susceptible to repetitive stress injuries.


Now, if Apple is hopeful of eventually replacing the mouse with the Magic Trackpad, it is doubtful that the mouse will become an antique like an antique Persian rug.  Unlike Vintage rugs, a mouse based on technology will most likely not have much purpose going forward other than as a curiosity piece.  Or a museum piece somewhere like the Boston Computer Museum.


In order for Apple to have invested in the development of the Magic Trackpad, they would have to be convinced there is a market for them.  So theyve most likely received thousands if not millions of phone calls over the years requesting a trackpad type function for desktop machines.  People who had worried about using the mouse because of repetitive stress or had just gotten tired of the mouse most likely decided the trackpad was the technology that most fit their needs so asked Apple to develop one.  Earlier Apple laptops had used trackballs and most likely some folks felt the trackball was almost as unwieldy to use as the mouse but the trackpad allows the user to use one or two fingers and either hand.


Will the Magic Trackpad actually be able to fully replace the mouse for all users?  Probably not as there are individuals today who attach a mouse to a laptop with a trackpad because they prefer using the technological tool they first learned.  There are individuals who will prefer the trackball.  But Apple obviously does see the market since they have developed the product.  As many industry analysts have noted, Steve Jobs has a fairly good track record on product development, even if there is not a ready market identified and if Apple has received enough requests for trackpad technology over the years, the market has already been identified.


Will the mouse become an antique?  Possibly, but most likely not as valuable as the antique Persian Rug.


What Bachelor Style Will "The Bachelor Pad" Show?

08-10-2010  |  By: Richard |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Theres a new Reality TV show hitting the airwaves called The Bachelor Pad.  This show is hosted by a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader named Melissa Rycroft.  Shades of days gone by!


The bachelor pad has probably always been as much a myth as it has been a reality.  For every Hugh Hefner there have most likely been one hundred Joe Schmoes.  Some bachelor pads have been furnished with the latest contemporary furniture from Ikea and wall-to-wall shag carpeting.  Others have been furnished with Victorian era antiques including antique Persian rugs.  Yet others (and probably the most common aspect) are furnished with a mix of thrift store chic, hand-me-downs from family and boards and concrete blocks from the local lumberyard.


The television show probably will have the more contemporary look as that would fit the desire to keep things light and airy in appearance.  The contemporary look, with the light and airy appearance is probably looked at as more of the California look where the heavy, Victorian antique furniture and antique Persian rugs evokes more of an East coast, formal drawing room, gothic appearance.


To many folks, however, the Victorian look, complete with vintage rugs, evokes an era of responsibility and maturity.  It may sometimes appear stolid rather than sensible but it is that stolidity that suggests the stability and sense of purpose.  It says to many that great things have happened here.  There are reasons why many banks in small towns have always had this type of look to present as their public face.


But  the most common type of Bachelor Pad really reflects the reality that most bachelors are in their mid-twenties and just out of college.  If the bachelor is lucky, most of his furniture is in one piece (depending on how many parties he had when he was in college).  Pride of place might be a papa-san chair or futon.  Theres most likely a television, maybe a big screen hi-def to watch the NFL or NBA games.  Bachelors from thirty or forty years ago might have had the top of the line stereo equipment while todays bachelor may lean more to the video game set-up.


However the Bachelor Pad television show sets things up, the risk will be the presentation.  If things are presented in too unrealistic a fashion, then the mockery will commence but if they go with too much realism, then it will probably not be interesting enough to gain the needed (and desired) ratings.


Contemporary furnishings, Victorian antiques, or college cast-offs, whatever path the producers choose, the hope is that people watch. Will you be tuning in?


Spain Wins World Cup

08-02-2010  |  By: Richard |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Espana Gana!  Reglas de Espana, la Copa del Mundo!


Spain Wins!  Spain Rules the World Cup!


Yes Spain has won the World Cup soccer tournament for the first time ever.  Spain is also the champion with the fewest ever goals scored for the tournament and lowest average score for a champion.  Spain is the first country to lose their first match of a World Cup and go ahead and win the tournament and is the first European team to win the World Cup outside of Europe.


All in all a job well done by the pre-tournament co-favorites.


Now what?  Some countries promise the team members jobs for life for winning the World Cup.  There were some rather interesting promises made to both fans and players of other countries if their team were to have won, but alas, it is unknown if any of those promises really would have been upheld.  As it is, the Spaniards will share $30 million for their winning efforts.


But what other rewards are available for the winners?  Besides the cash reward for winning, what other rewards will be available?  There are the previously mentioned jobs for life (and national celebrity) that some countries may promise, there are physical items that may be rewards for winning. 


Spain is one of the older European countries yet it has managed to avoid at least some of the destruction visited on countries like France and Germany through fighting the world wars so there are likely to be more antiques surviving into the 21st century.  Especially with the Moorish influences, there are quite likely various Moorish pieces of furniture and antique rugs, especially antique Persian rugs that are around that can be given to the team members to commemorate the win. 


Imagine the pride of the families of the players knowing that the vintage rug adorning the floor in the formal dining area is a reward for the sacrifices that they made in support of their family members pursuit of soccer immortality and knowing theyve received the reward to be enjoyed by all the family and the future generations of the family.  If the Spanish members of the World Cup Champions team were given prizes such as antique Persian Rugs, the family itself benefits and can look with pride on the rug, knowing they helped to contribute to the success enjoyed by the entire country.


Today and for the next four years, Spain is the capital of the world of soccer.  Is it possible that the United States will ever achieve the World Cup Championship?  Yes it is.  Is it probable?  No it is not. 


So enjoy being the top Espana!  Enjoy.


It Doesn't take a Russian Spy to Find the Hidden Messages in Antique Rugs

07-26-2010  |  By: Amy |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
It Doesn't take a Russian Spy to Find the Hidden Messages in Antique Rugs

The Russian spies found in American recently were known use many techniques for hiding information, but the meanings in antique rugs are often readily available. The spies were known to use stenography, that is hiding messages, with digital pictures.


Anyone who has read Tale of Two Cities will remember Madame Defarge who knit the names of those she marked for death into her knitting. She used a simple pattern of knits and purls which translate into ones and zero's which anyone with a computer or Morse code background will tell is the building block of any alphabet if the key is known. Neal Stephenson used the same technique with regard to cross stitch in his Baroque Cycle. The time and patience to create such a record must be considerable, but when it comes to gaining and concealing information spies lives do depend on it. Antique carpet makers can tell how that patience is certainly part of their job description.


Old rugs on the other hand put their messages in a code more readily understandable. The tradition began while pictorial representations were more important than written language. It was not until the advent of moveable type that printing was affordable enough that the masses could get access to the written word in sufficient quantities that it became practical to educate the average citizen to read or write. Until this time people were more able to understand pictures than letters.


The cross and fish were easily recognizable as symbols of Christianity. Boteh's were connected with Zorastrianism. The Cresent with a star was a symbol of Islam. The Swastika has had a place in Asian cultures since the 6th Millenia BC. It is a symbol of good luck in many Asian religions and was only corrupted by Nazi's. Due to that recent, in terms of Antique rugs, change in symbolism it might be found still on Old rugs out of India and China. Modern rugs with this symbol would not likely be exported to the Western regions.


Those are just the religious icons as well. Anyone can recognize a tree, a rose, a lily or pineapple. Coat of arms can easily be transferred to a Antique Persian rug. Any of those symbols placed delicately on a carpet could have told anyone walking into a room where the alliances of the owners stood as simply as a person today changes their profile of Facebook.


A person might want to imagine that a pattern could somehow be hidden under the piles of a Persian rug, but the rug would likely be destroyed in the reading. Today it is much easier to use a computer program to hide a message in an extra bit of a graphic and then post the photo to a blog. Antique rugs may once have been the greatest technology for hiding long messages in plain sight, but now they are more about their color and style.


Antique Persian Rugs: More Than Just Vintage Rugs

07-20-2010  |  By: Nicole |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

There are old rugs.  There are vintage rugs.  Then there is the Antique Persian Rug. 


Old rugs would include all those shag carpets, sometimes known as wall-to-wall carpets laid over the sub-floors in the various sub-divisions and housing developments across the US these last fifty and sixty years.  Most of these old rugs would have very little value to a discriminating collector.  Stained and thread-bare from traffic, kids playing, juice and soda spills and all the other messes of todays life.  Maybe the type of rug that Russian spies used in their nefarious operations in the fifties.


Vintage rugs have more value as antique rugs than the plain old rugs in the previous paragraph.  Maybe the vintage rugs were woven by someones grandmother during long winter nights in times past in the US.  Vintage rugs might have been woven by the firelight during the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries and used next to the beds so folks didnt have to step out of bed on cold winter mornings on to a cold floor.


But it is the antique Persian Rug that is the work of art.  It may have been woven by an unknown weaver during the times of Cyrus the Great or Darius the Great.  Or maybe it was woven during the times when the stories of Sinbad the Sailor originated.  Or during the times of the Crusades, but whenever it was woven, it was and is a work of art.  That unknown weaver would be quite surprised at the value placed on his or her handiwork in todays marketplace as in the days when it was woven, it would have most likely been sold in the marketplace in Baghdad for a Daric or two (or whatever the ancient equivalent of a few pennies or nickels).


Today, collectors will pay thousands of dollars for authentic antique Persian rugs.    A fine antique Persian rug would most definitely fit in the category of fine art objects, a rug that could be used by spies in a James Bond movie.  These rugs are not only well-made (which has helped the rug to become an antique rug) but colorful and artistic patterns woven by the un-named and mostly unknown weaver allows these antique rugs to be used as more than just a rug; but possibly as a tapestry.  Which would also amaze the unknown weaver who most likely assumed that the purchaser of the rug in the local bazaar just wanted something to cover the floor.


It is possible that machine made rugs from today may at some unknown point in the future be declared vintage rugs rather than just old rugs.  However, it is doubtful that those vintage rugs will ever have the value, artistically and otherwise, as the very best antique Persian rugs.


Antique Rugs for Everyone

07-12-2010  |  By: Nicole |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Antique rugs are similar to most other antiques in that they are old.  They would most likely have to have been well-made old rugs, in fact.  Unlike other antiques though, antique rugs would tend to have seen a bit more use than maybe an antique dresser or table or chairs. Unlike the antique tables, chairs, dressers, and such, the antique rugs most likely got walked on.  A lot.  It may even have been used such that it could have had treatment similar to having a World Cup match played on it over the years.


Antique rugs, no matter where placed in the home, would have been the recipient of all sorts of dirt being tracked in.  The type of antique rugs most folks are probably familiar with would be the Persian rug.  These would have been hand-woven old rugs designed to stand up to the abuse of life.


Maybe the antique rugs were allowed to become old rugs because they were used as a wall tapestry.  Maybe the old rugs were allowed to become antique rugs by virtue of being stored in the attic (or warehouse or closet).  But however it happened, the old rugs were allowed to became old and thus, antique.


Antique rugs are not like that shag carpet the cheap developer installed over the sub floor in order to save a few bucks on the houses in the thrown together subdivision.  The antique rugs most likely would not be reaching the status of old rugs if theyd been installed like that.  If someone were to go back in time to meet the rug weaver, the weaver would probably be astounded that the handiwork theyd labored over could be considered so very valuable just because its old.


As antique rugs, the rugs would not have been subject to chemical cleaning as so many rugs are today.  The owner or a family member probably took the rug off the floor or dirt, hung it over a wire or rope and took a stick and beat it to clean it.  In fact, that would be the genesis of the phrase rug-beater.  Its doubtful that most folks actually think about the household staff that were responsible for their now antique rugs back in the days before it became an old rugs available to be called antique.  They just enjoy that they have an old rug that is old enough to be identified as an antique rug.  Antique rugs cant talk or sing or tell the tales of history.  


But wouldnt that be a tale worth hearing?


Deciphering the Code of Vintage Rugs

07-06-2010  |  By: Amy |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Tapestries have been used for centuries to tell a story from history, but because of the Muslim prohibition of pictorial representation of a person Antique Persian rugs have to use patterns to tell similar stories. These stories could be documented in a pattern of pictures.


Woven into the old rugs using a pattern fortune and blessings could be spelled out for the room. This is very similar to how different varieties of flowers had different meanings. The various patterns evolved to represent different things. These patterns could be highly detailed, but some of them are of such age and distinction that they can be represented by basic shapes and straight lines.


The peacock, a symbol for immortality, at its most basic is a triangle, with a line for a tail, two for legs and a smaller triangle as a head. The Tree of Life, a symbol for the path between heaven and earth, was a rhombus with a series of lines below it as the trunk and branches. The dog, a symbol for protection and defense, could be created as a sort of stick figure with triangles for the head and feet. These basic styled symbols logically have a long history with in the culture and may date back to the earliest humans coming to grips with an object they created that could outlive them.


Other basic motifs like the Herati and the Mini-Khani were much more complex and evolved through style and practice. Over time certain patterns and combinations of shapes were seen as pleasing. They were complex enough to make the rug look interesting but the simple theme kept them organized.


Shapes like the Boteh, which is the ancestor of the more modern paisley, have been in use since the early 1500's. The Boteh was a Zoroastrian symbol for eternity. Zoroastrianism is the dominant religion in Persia before Islam. It is also viewed as a symbol for fire or water which are the agents of purity. These links to the 3000 year old religion help one to understand the deep seated iconography used in the Antique carpets.


The Gul and the Shah Abbasi are smaller motif's that are often used either in all over patterns or repeating elements around a central element. They are both representative of flowers, though the Gul has a more geometric, symmetrical shaping and the Shah Abbasi are more like cross sections of flowers. These flowers may be grouped to form or decorate a central medallion.


Rosettes are certainly the most thought of for a central medallion. They are a circular combination of other motifs that give it the illusion of petals of a rose. They can be as natural or geometric as the rugs style dictates. The motifs that are combined to create the rosette can, in fact, be Shah Abbasi, dogs, peacocks, Boteh or any other pattern. The rosettes are more a like a design element than representative of something else.


Understanding more about the design elements and individual motifs can help one to read and understand any antique rug. These are representative of a old and distinguished culture.





All About the Dyes in Antique Rugs

06-29-2010  |  By: Mark Mend Stern |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »
All About the Dyes in Antique Rugs
All About the Dyes in Antique Rugs  Besides the age and style of the antique rug, one can truly learn to appreciate the colors present.  Modern consumers often forget that artificial dyes have only been around since the 20th Century.

Today one worries about getting an exact shade of paint, for the walls, to match the flower in a favorite throw pillow. When antique rugs started being created and designed, the colors available were those one could make oneself with vegetation or bugs.  Any child who has rubbed a dandelion flower on something or eaten a blueberry has learned that color can be transferred. The magic of dyeing though is learning how to make that color permanent.  

Fabric doesn't always keep the same color when heat is applied and oxygen can also affect the process. This is chemistry in action.   Yellow spices like turmeric and saffron, that were responsible for dying food, also found their place in fiber baths.  It was not known to be as durable a color though and would fade. One wonders though if it was as much a matter or fading as the color getting lost in the slow tracking of dirt.  

The madder root from a climbing vine would produce suitable red until a red bug was found on cactuses that produced a more vivid color. The root's dying history though is well document and was used around the world. It was first used in India, but it was  also used to make the red coats famously worn by the British Army.  

Indigo would be used in successive dips to produce a very durable and deep blue. This dye was special for being a fermented dye that would change when as it contacted with oxygen. It was produced from the leaves of a plant grown in the tropics. Production and transportation of this dye was part of what drove the exploration of the oceans for new routes to India. Land space that accounts for more than 2 times that of Luxembourg was dedicated to growing this crop before synthetic versions could be created. 

Antique rugs that wanted to display grapes or wine had to produce a suitable shade of violet . Purple was also the color of royalty. It was produced from the excretions of a shellfish. Not being easy to find or extract in large quantities, added to its valuable. Some indigos could have a purple quality and it could be mixed with a red dye. These colors would fade differently and change over time. Lightly dyed versions of the purples would produce most of the pink hues as well.  

Dark browns and blacks could be produced from bark and other dark hued vegetation. One imagines that when the color was not right it might simply have been dyed over to make a brown or black that could be used in the border or background of a design.  Henna, a flowering plant which is well known for creating non-permanent tattoos, can also be used to produce orange dyes.   All these amazing fibers would have to be dyed in vast quantities to produce a work of art. Today's shoppers can take advantage of such a wide variety of colors. One needs to remember and appreciate the wide lengths makers of antique rugs and other goods had to go through to produce the vivid colors seen in their work.

How Warp and Weft Can Help One Identify Value in an Antique Rug

06-21-2010  |  By: Nicole |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Antique rugs are woven and understanding the basics terms of weaving can help one understand the building blocks of the rug.  Weavers will string a warp thread through a loom and then add the weft threads. In a piece of plain fabric the weft would be the same color and with a tartan or flannel a pattern of different colors are used in both the warp and weft threads to create squares of color. Pictures emerge as multiple different weft threads are pulled to the top of left on the bottom.



Antique rugs though do not rely on these threads to produce the picture or pattern. Instead the warp and weft are the canvas one which the weaver will add the color. Wool, cotton, silk or some other spun fiber is looped on to the base. The ends of the thread produce the pile of the rug. Carpets today follow a similar principle except that most carpet fibers may only be looped once around the base and are then glued to keep them in place.



Many styles of antique rug use different techniques for their knots they will loop the thread forwards or backwards around the warp and weft threads as they have been taught. These style of knots help to define the type of rug and preserve the process of a community. 



The key though is how many of these knots will be in each inch of fabric. Anyone who has bought sheets knows higher thread counts generally relate to more expensive sheets. This is presumably because thinner threads are used to make these sheets. Thinner threads come from more expensive, softer cotton. These threads are in the same warp and waft pattern. They maker, remember, will knot the threads over the canvas. This is similar to cross stitching or embroidery but in this case the ends of each thread are part of the pattern as opposed to in embroidery where the extra threads are hidden on the backside of the fabric.  One counts the knots, in a square of fabric, from the underside to see how fine the detail work gets.



This works exactly the same as graphics on a computer screen. In the early days of graphics, games like Pac-Man and Asteroids were created with big squares of colors representing a shape. The circles would look like they were made with boxes, and the smaller the boxes the smoother the circle. Today's graphics use such small boxes that the formerly gagged lines look smooth.



Rug makers realized that the smaller the threads they tied on the smoother the rounded edges appeared and the more intricate the design could be.  Each thread still has to be tied into place though. More knots per inch means more labor and a higher price.  Any large antique rug represents a huge amount of time and patience. Delicate work that is performed by experienced hands.



If the pattern is very detailed the pile of the antique rug will often be kept short to allow the detail to shine. Longer piles will lead to the pattern becoming more fuzzy.  So be sure to examine the backside and the knots. Look at how small the weave is on the canvas. Think seriously about the amount of work that went into the hand knotted piece of art.


What Is That Color?

06-15-2010  |  By: Nicole |  (0) Post comment »  |  Read comments »

Before the late 1800's, antique rugs were hand woven and hand dyed using vegetable dyes.  Some artisans who hand loom or hand tie knotted rugs still use vegetable dyes to dye the fibers of the rugs, but chemical dyes create a more even coloring and offer a wide variety of color options that are more difficult to achieve with vegetable dye baths.  Though many individuals often associate chemicals with negative connotations, the chemical dye baths used to color modern area rugs are no more harmful than most of the vegetable dye baths that have been used throughout the centuries.  Modern chemical dyes are often even more safe for the natural fibers that make up the rug than some vegetable dyes.  The vegetable dye bath sometimes used in rural areas to make hand woven and hand dyed antique Persian rugs was often a very corrosive substance that ate away at the natural wool fibers that it colored, thus significantly shortening the lifespan of the rugs.


While chemical dyeing had become quite standard over time since first introduced in the late 1800's, Turkish rug makers revitalized the use of vegetable dyes during the 1960's.  The use of natural materials to create vibrant colors for rugs was quickly rejuvenated, and spread throughout the region through the late 20th century.  Now both synthetic dyes and natural dyes are widely used, often at the same time by many rug artisans.  Though the Turkish government did attempt to cease the use of synthetic dyes in the 19th century, the regulations were not to much avail.  When the use of natural dyes reemerged, both types of dyes remained in heavy use.  There does not seem to be an industry standard as to which type of dye is necessarily superior and creates a superior product.  This is likely at least partially due to the fact that the hand-made rug industry is in many ways, still a cottage industry, practiced by individuals and collectives in remote villages throughout the Persian region.


The items used to make natural dye baths have changed over the years as different plants and insects have been found to yield different dyeing results.  Traditionally, the bright reds and orangey reds in most antique Persian rugs are not made from vegetable dyes at all.  Instead, the reds and oranges found in so many antique rugs are created by boiling insect carapaces.  Reds are also commonly derived by powdering the root of the madder plant, then turning it into a dye bath by mixing it in water.


It can be difficult for the untrained eye to determine whether an antique rug is dyed with synthetic or natural dyes, or possibly a combination of both.  If a rug predates the late 19th century, then it is certainly colored with vegetable dyes, as synthetic dyes did not come into existence until then.  The majority of rugs made between the late 1800's and the 1960's used chemical dyes.  Newer rugs run the gambit-- even those hand tied in rural areas might be colored using synthetic dyes.  


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