Antique rugs are the highlight of a home decorator's dream. What could be better than a beautiful collector's piece that has withstood time and still looks great? While most antique furniture pieces become brittle and fragile with age, many older rugs are still rugged and fearless—a tribute to their excellent craftsmanship. Whether an antique rug is displayed proudly on a wall or used reverently in the main dining hall, its unique character and timeless value will stand strong.
The term "antique rug" actually blankets several rug production categories. Some rug houses consider pieces that are 25 years old or older to be "antique." Others require a rug be at least 60 years old, or older, before gaining the title. "Antique rug" also refers to a contemporary style of rug re-makes, which precisely copy patterns, pigments, and techniques from existing antique rugs (usually museum pieces), allowing them to be used with ease in the modern home.
There are countless dealers, on the web and in many cities, which offer antique rugs for the discerning collector.
The best dealers guarantee the age and origin of their rugs, so do enough research on your potential purchase to ensure you're really receiving a legitimate piece of history.
Once you've found a good dealer (there are good ones online, as well!), you'll dive into the many fascinating types of antique rugs.
Antique Bakshaish rugs (from Iran/Persia) are one of the most popular collector's styles, with spontaneous character and rich pigmentation.
They're designed to be used as whole-room centerpieces, exploding with ornate tribal designs that are refreshing and inspiring. Rooted in traditional village rugs, these big beauties are brimming with contrasting designs that demand reverence.
Antique Sarouk Persians are another popular branch, offering lush, stylized floral designs with delectable Persian color schemes. Almost modernistic brush and flowers cascade over fields of lapis, turquoise, cerulean blue, navy blue, and gold. Red astounds from pinpoints to panels and intricate borders sometimes frame simple centers. The Sarouk is popular for its sturdy, yet soft, craftsmanship and its rich palette and size flexibility.
Antique Persian rugs and carpets are a broader category, but ever prized by rug enthusiasts as the epitome of class, character, and notoriety. They are considered some of the oldest (if not the oldest) rug textiles in the world, appearing throughout archaeological and historical sites with much the same beauty as they had when they were new.
Antique Persians are available in a huge array of sizes. From accent rugs to area rugs, there are luscious arcades, mesmerizing Egyptian eyes, ornate medallions, and tantalizing Arash. Trademarked by their intensely tight, incredibly precise patterns, these amazing pieces have used much the same sense of style and color scheme for centuries. Earthen browns, tans, and noble golds meet the warmest crimsons, creams, reds, and lapis blues. Olive and forest green are happy to mingle with bronze, brick red, navy blue, and pinpoints of yellow-gold. The palettes of old are very much alive and at home with our contemporary furniture and wall colorings, while still retaining their vintage elegance.
Along with the most popular rug lines, you'll also discover fantastic antique Navajo rugs from the Navajo Nation in America's Southwest. These rich collector's items make great wall hangings, and showcase the Native American tribe's extensive history with textiles. There are also classical Chinese, Tibetan, and Southeast Asian rugs, filled with spiritual meaning and dramatic colors.
Many collectors also search for retro European and American rugs; collecting classic flat braided ovals from the colonies and handsome Victorian pastorals from the 1890s. Imagine a serene floral design on your country kitchen floor, or a giant Amish oval in your grand sitting room.
Antique rugs are a field of their own. They're still very usable as actual rugs, and are frequently used as decorative floor covering, just as they were meant to be. Also, some collectors proudly frame or otherwise display their finds on the wall, like tapestries, preventing footfalls from further damaging the fine rug. Whether you're a collector or just love rugs, an antique rug isn't quite like any other type of classic antique, and you'll probably want more than just one!
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