A Brief History of Handmade Area Rugs

A Brief History of Handmade Area Rugs

Handmade rugs can give a room a distinct, elegant look. But where did they come from? Here’s a brief history of handmade area rugs.

Beginnings

Nomadic people in Central Asia were the first to create rugs more than 2,000 years ago. During cold winters, these people needed a multipurpose form of warmth and comfort they could carry with them. They were shepherds, so they had access to an abundance of wool. By weaving this wool into rugs, they created functional tools that, with their variety of pattern possibilities, were also aesthetically pleasing to look at. They hung these rugs at the entrances of their homes and tents to block wind and rain and placed them on the ground to provide cozy seating or sleeping areas. Furthermore, these nomads could place items inside rolled-up rugs for transport. By the 16th century, rugmaking was a well-established artform completed by hand with a simple loom.

Spread

As rugs became ubiquitous in Asia, they also started to spread out from the area. Crusaders attained them from Eastern traders in the 11th century. Through Western contact with Eastern countries such as Persia and Turkey, rugs became more widely prevalent in Western Europe as well. European royalty used rugs as adornments on walls or tables, and depictions of rugs can be found in paintings from as early as the 13th century. Rugs were associated with Eastern royal families, so Western nobility also began to put rugs in their homes as they gained more wealth. Over time, Europe went from relying on Eastern imports to creating their own rugs with designs distinct from their Asian counterparts. Europeans also began placing rugs on the floor not as seating or bedding, but as decorative coverings.

When industrialization made it possible to mass-produce rugs with machines in the 19th century, handmade varieties survived as a special commodity for the discerning. However, most people began putting plain, machine-made carpets in their homes throughout the 20th century as Oriental rugs went out of fashion. Still, hard flooring surfaces such as wood have become more common in recent decades—and with them, the need for beautiful area rugs.

If you want to tap into the unique and distinguished style of handmade rugs, visit Boutique Rugs. We supply high-quality, hand-woven area rugs online in materials such as wool, just like the early rugs in history.