The history of Mongolian rugs goes back to the Yuan dynasty, established by leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan, Kublai Khan, who identified his grandfather Genghis Khan on the imperial records as the true founder of the dynasty.
The Mongols had ruled territories of today’s North China for decades. But it was not until 1271 that Kublai Khan officially proclaimed the dynasty in the traditional Chinese style. However, he hasn’t completed his conquest until 1279. As a result, the Yuan dynasty became the first to rule all of China. The dynasty itself lasted until 1368. After that date, the rebuked Mongolian rulers returned to their homeland. Antique Mongolian rugs are a rarity. Only a few pieces remained until today. Most of our knowledge on their subject comes from Chinese manuscripts. Their authors describe them as similar to modern Mongolian craft.
Design of Mongolian Rugs
The characteristic design of Mongolian carpets is a “see-through” pattern put against a solid background. There is a clear connection between the aesthetics of China and goods that the Mongolian weavers produced. On Mongolian carpets we can see famous motifs, such as Buddhist symbols and fretwork spandrels. Also there are endless knots, shou, tigers and dragons. However, the creators of the rugs simplified them significantly. We can assume that they got the ispiration from works of Chinese masters and tried to copy them. In addition, we can differentiate them by open spaces appearing between elements of design. They have a subdued color palette. The dominant colors are earthy browns toned down to various shades.
Mongolian Rugs Nowadays
Comparing to Chinese and Indian carpet industry, modern Mongolian rugs are insignificant on the market. Only a small amount of rugs come from the country. That makes them rare. Sadly, few collectors express interest in them. However, this seems to change as more and more people become fascinated with ethnic weaving.