The origin of carpet weaving is often disputed. The most common belief is rug weaving was believed to be first created by Cyrus the Great during his reign of the Persian Empire in 529 B.C. These carpets were made in very small villages for residential use with designs and weavings identifiable of the specific community or tribe they were created. The artistic weave, quality, and deign of antique rugs reached its pinnacle during the Safavid Dynasty (1499-1722). This was most likely because Shah Tahmasp and Shah Abbas of the dynasty created a weaving industry that focused on large commercial production including highly skilled and organized weaving workshops. Royal workshops were established specifically for designers and workers to create the best carpets with intricate designs. Silk with silver or gold thread are examples of the high quality fibers used.
Highly skilled artists would sketch the carpet designs, and the most intricate designs would be used by the most talented weavers in the empire. The Shah’s full support made sure the quality of the product was unparalleled during these times. Trade was then established with Europe with Persian rugs as one of the products that spurred economic growth, and Persia had grown into its golden age. The majority of most sought after antique rugs were made during this time with arguably the two greatest rugs ever woven in the mosque of Ardebil in 1539. These rugs are now located in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the other one is in the Los Angeles County Museum.
The fundamentals of weaving antique rugs have not changed for centuries many of the earliest known techniques and materials are still in use in the major rug producing regions of the world today such as Turkey, China, Persia, India, Morocco, and Europe. Every antique rug tells story. This story gives us insight to the time period they were created and the lives of the weavers.
Antique rugs can stand on their own for historical importance and cultural significance. Each culture ensures the longevity of their design iconography through the making of the rugs. Most high-end antique carpets, especially those from Persia or India, have traditionally been made in sophisticated urban settings where a high value was placed on such fine artistry. The more tribal and casual carpets were woven by nomadic tribesmen and women as they had access to coarser material and didn't have the advantage of an established rug loom. These men and women were inspired by cultural trends and historical events.
The golden age of rug weaving in India, Persia and Turkey occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries due to the Industrial revolution in Europe. For the newly emerged merchant class at the time, oriental rugs primarily functioned as beautiful status symbols of wealth and good taste. Most of the carpets and antique area rugs in the vast Doris Leslie Blau collection were produced during this period.
Antique carpets can vary in color, size, design, and material. Trends in utilizing antique rugs are constantly changing. One of the current popular trends in buying antique and vintage rugs is towards neutral colors which can be used in any environment. Although antique rugs come in a myriad of colors, every rug has the potential to anchor a room and to create an inviting ambiance; after all a rug is the foundation of any great room. Edgar Allen Poe once wrote that "the soul of the apartment is in the carpet."
We cordially invite you to view the largest collection of antique carpets at the crossroads of the world in New York City.