The last 25 years has seen four big innovations in the best oriental rugs. Even though the vast majority of oriental rugs made in the last 130 years are not original works of art, a few innovators are now making rugs that compare favorably with the finest antique rugs made 300 years ago. By understanding the 4 biggest rug innovations you will learn to distinguish which rugs are original works of art and which are copies.
1. Artists begin creating original paintings to make the best rugs.
A detail from the original hand painting commissioned by Asmara. The weavers used 18th Century French weaving methods to replicate the brush strokes of the artist. Hundreds of wool colors are used to achieve gradual shading. The Marbella 6076GD, Savonile rug made from the painting is shown below.
For two thousand years until the advent of the industrial revolution oriental rugs were made for the personal use of the weaver’s family or for a royal patron. These rugs were works of art.
All of this changed in the 1880s when a new class of Europeans who had become wealthy during the industrial revolution began desiring oriental rugs. They saw oriental rugs as the “the pride of every Dutch painting, the delight of every wealthy and aristocratic European home” (John Mills, “The Coming of the Carpet to the West”, 1983)
To fill this unprecedented demand, merchants in Persia began ordering rugs on a commercial scale. Oriental rugs changed from an indigenous art to a commercial commodity.
Most of the rugs were copies of styles that were popular in the markets of New York and London. This is still true today. The vast majority of rugs being made today are not based on original art.
Then, starting in the late 1970’s a small number of pioneering rug makers commissioned fine artists to create original hand paintings for weaving rugs and these paintings were sent to the weavers.
Marbella, 6076GD, Savonile rug. Made from the artist’s hand painting shown above. Marbella has an innovative texture, a mix of a Savonnerie pile and a flat weave invented by Asmara. The entire surface is shaded with hundreds of custom dyed colors. Marbella is not chemically washed.
The best Original art rugs became an instant hit with interior designers who immediately responded to their honest beauty and personality.
2. New rug textures are introduced for the first time in 2000 years.
For over 2000 years oriental rugs have been made in the same textures.
Then in the 1990s Asmara introduced the Savonile™ Rug. It had an innovative texture, a mix of a Savonnerie cut pile and a new flat weave invented by Asmara.
The weaving art of Savonile rugs follows the inventions of the 18th century when Louis XIV commissioned fine artists to create oil paintings of original rug designs. The Savonnerie carpets and Aubusson rugs that were hand woven from these paintings can still be seen in the Palaces of Versailles today.
The entire surface of a Savonile rug is shaded with hundreds of custom dyed colors to replicate the brush strokes in the painting. Compare this with commercial rugs that have between 3 to 15 colors.
Part 2 will appear tomorrow.