How to Identify Different Types of Antique Rugs
Adding texture to a space is one of the simplest ways to bring character and create a cosy ambience in your home. Antique rugs have a back story, a rich history, and a heritage that modern equivalents cannot match.
A flat weave Persian rug made in the 18th century with whimsical fringed edging can bring gravitas to a living room. An antique Berber rug that evokes the heady hues of the old Souk of Marrakesh can be a striking addition to your home. And a geometric Turkish kilim rug can bring an effortlessly contemporary accent to your hardwood floor.
Shopping for your perfect antique rug can be daunting as there are so many different styles to choose from. Whether you want to hide floorboard imperfections, elevate the mood of your space, or experiment with layering textures, a versatile antique rug is the ultimate stylish multi-tasker. Read on to find out how to identify antique rugs by style, location, period, and pile.
The crème de la crème of antique rugs, historic Persian rugs are renowned for their beauty and durability. The finest and most sought-after examples were handmade during the Safavid dynasty of the 16th century in modern-day Iran. After spending many weeks and months boiling, spinning, and dyeing sheep wool, artisan weavers would use intricate hand-knotting techniques to craft one-of-a-kind rugs of exquisite patterns. These rugs were prized trading commodities on the Silk Road because of their superior quality.
Features of Persian rugs:
- Timeless Patterns – Persian rug patterns are symmetrical and feature large floral motifs, including the iconic medallion lotus with sixteen petals and stems, as well as geometric shapes.
- Colour – Rich reds, bold blues, blacks, ivory tones, and earthy hues were used to create a stalwart colour palette that Persian rugs are so famous for.
- Fringed and bound edging – both fringed and bound edging can be found on antique Persian rugs. The fringes should be part of the carpet and are simply the ends of the yarns on the rug. The should be no evidence of sewn edges on an age-old rug. If you spy this, the rug is a modern reproduction.
- Pile – You will find both flat weave and high pile antique Persian rugs.
Rugs have been hand-woven in modern-day Turkey since the 13th century. It was in the Middle Ages that these antique rugs were first introduced to Europeans, who were so enamoured with the quality and craftsmanship that they began to refer to all Oriental rugs as ‘Turkey rugs’. Perhaps the most famous sub-set of Turkish rugs are the nomadic kilims with their coarsely woven designs and heavy pile knotting using looms.
Features of Turkish rugs
- Motifs – Turkish rugs have a varied palette of motifs including animals, flowers, and stylised imagery. Kilim rugs are more geometric in design, with repeated patternation and lines of tribal symbols a signature feature of the flat weave.
- Dyes – Turkey has abundant fauna that is used in the natural production of dyes. These were used to dye wool, silk, and cotton. Plant-based, wholly natural colours created a vibrant mood board of hues for artisan weavers to choose from.
- The Turkish knot – Now the most common knot used in knotted pile carpets, the Turkish knot originated in the Anatoli region. It is a symmetrical knot where the yarn is twisted and tied to create the pile.
Borne out of necessity rather than design, Moroccan rugs originated in the 8th century as tribal people of the region were keen to add warmth to their homes with floor coverings and bedding. They also used rugs for burial shrouds and saddle cushioning. With the ability to anchor an aesthetic, Moroccan rugs have an understated simplicity and alluring beauty.
Moroccan Berber rugs were hand-woven by the nomadic people of the Berber tribes. As such, they would carry looms with them as they travelled. This means that you’ll rarely find a Berber rug that’s wider than seven feet. Being an artisan textile, a Berber rug can take up to nine months to make.
Features of Moroccan rugs
- Weave – Moroccan rugs can be flat woven or heavy pile. This is dependant on the climate of the region where they were made.
- Pattern and colour – Antique Azilal rugs of Morocco tell stories with woven scenes from folk tales passed down through generations. Boujad rugs of the central plains are more vivid with orange, purple and pink geometric patterns. And Beni Ourain rugs handmade in the Atlas Mountains ooze contemporary cool with muted cream tones and black geometric lines.
- Dyes – Natural dyes made from regional flowers, berries, and leaves provide the unique and vibrant colours of antique Moroccan rugs.
Hang a Persian rug on your wall. Feel the plush heavy pile of an Azilal rug under your feet when you get out of bed every morning. Or adorn your floor with a flat weave kilim to bring selective pattern to your living space. The unrivalled versatility, durability, and sheer beauty of antique rugs make them a must-have when furnishing your home.