Dating rugs

Interestingly, there actually are two very famous rugs that have been identified as the oldest rugs in the world — the Pazyryk rug and the Ardabil rug. Both of these rugs are very impressive, with high knot counts and very intricate patterns and each of them has their own interesting history and equally interesting features. In this article we take a look at both of these rugs. Dating from the 4th century B. The rug was discovered during an archaeological excavation in in the Pazyryk Valley in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

How to Identify Antique Rugs

Reproduced with permission by Murray Eiland. No text or photographs may be reproduced without permission from Dr. Murray Eiland or myself. Figure 7. Chinese rug with two dragons. Wendel Swan Collection. Detail image of a fragment of a coarsely woven rug attributable to the Ming period The dating of Chinese rugs has long been controversial, and, over the years, there have often been extravagant claims for rugs that are surely less than a century old.

Slowly however, grouping have emerged which allow the division of Chinese rugs into those with handspun foundation yarns, which there is good reason to assign to the first two thirds of the 19th century or earlier, and rugs with machine-spun cotton foundations, which may be assigned to a later period. As one moves backwards toward the early 19th century, one finds progressively more austere designs until the carpets begin to show an increasingly prominent use of various brown shadesEventually one may group together rugs that can be characterized by their substantial use of brown color that erodes much more quickly than the rest of the carpet.

Figure 1. Fragment of a Chinese rug, 2'1" x 5'9". The particularly graceful drawing on this fragment and several other similar pieces has suggested that they may be among the earliest surviving type of Chinese rugs. Rutherford Collection. The question as to how far Chinese carpets can possibly be dated into the past. To place these pieces showing eroded brown in the early 19th century or even the late 18th century seems reasonable, but is ether any reason to extend this dating to the mid or early 18th century or earlier?

Occasionally one find a piece labeled by a dealer as Ming work, or with more specific attributions to the 14th or 15th century. Could this possibly be justified? In spite of this lack of documentation, however, a group of. The largest inividual cache of these rugs, including four large fragments, turned up at a southern California auction in The current owner of these rugs later determined that they had been de-accessioned by the DeYoung Museum in SF.

Obviously someone with a good eye ha gathered them together an someone with less sharp sensibilities had approved their sale for what turned out to be a few hundred dollars. Figure 2. Border fragment of a large Chinese rug, 3'5" x 7'. While there is nothing extraordinary in the drawing of this border, the colours and texture of this example area close match to Figure 1 and both pie es probably belong to the same small group of early Chinese rugs.

The only one of these pieces to show part of a field pattern is drawn with surprising skill, and this small fragment suggest that the original was an exceptionally powerful rug. A border fragment of the same structural type, but no the same rug, also shows exceptional power and in scale suggests an extremely large rug. Two other border fragments were all part of the same group and these were obviously from a single rug.

No likely candidates for field design of these borer fragments have emerged, but there are other fragment with design similar to the field of Fig. Another fragment of similar design is in Paris, but there are reasons for assuming it is from a different carpet. Several other fragments which have passed through the international art market in recent years are almost certainly from the same or similar carpets. Figure 3. Border fragmetn of a large Chinese rug, clearly related in colour and texture to to Figs.

The next important cap[ets from this group appeared in auction of the Frank Michelian Collection in New York In their colours, and extraordinary drawing they are suggestive of the four pieces from the southern California sale, and they also have other features in common. Since the Michelian sale, well over a dozen pieces have come onto the international market showing essentially the same range of features. This includes Fig. Indeed, it appears, in retrospect, as though one example of this type, apparently the largest surviving and one of.

Pierpont Morgan to the Metropolitan Museum. Obviously it was recognized early in the century as a special carpet, and it was then attribute to the 18th century. Figure 4. Fragment of a Chinese rug with field design suggestive of Fig. Museum fur Kunsthandwork, Frankfurt, Germany. Perhaps the most dramatic difference between these carpets and th etypical pieces with eroded brown borders is in the colour scheme. First, some of this group show relatively lttle brown and ,k when brown does occur, it is not usually of the type that erodes more rapidly than the rest of the carpet.

I have found no pieces I consider to be amon this group that show the eroded brown borders, so common on early Chinese rugs. Most of these rugs again show fewer distinct shades of blue than the typical late 19th century Chinese rug. Some show only one rather dark blue, often contrasted with a blue-green, a colour that appears on most of these rugs.

At times there is a dark an light blue, while more than two blues is unusual but not unknown for this type. The main colours are shades of yellow and gold, with smaller traces of faded mauve. From the appearance of early Chinese rugs in ancestor portraits, it seems likely that the rugs were originally much more brightly coloured with substantially more re than we see now. The faded mauve and even some of the of the golden shades could originally have appeared as reds, an the blue-green likely appeared as a brighter green before fading of the yellow component.

Figure 5. The wool of these pieces is quite coarse, much harsher in feel than the usual wool of later Ninghsia carpets, and the weave, with typical asymmetrical knots open to the left may be eve coarser than 10 knots per square inch. The remarkable degree to which a curvilinear effect is achieved with knotting this coarse is the result of the several technical innovations. Remarkably gracelful lines can be achieved by tying knots over 1 or 3 warps, at times with the yarn moving from one shed to the next, leaving what appears to be a short diagonalb line of colour on the back of the rug.

While this technique is used sparingly in later Chinese lrugs, it is nowhere so common as on this group, where it helps achieve a curvilinear effect with surprisingly coarse knotting. The foundation yarns of many of these rugs are hand-spun cotton, but the warp material usuaed in other has become controversial. In HALI 72, p. We watched one leading scholar analyzing an example an refusing to believe the warp was silk tuntil, in frustration, the owner clipped off a small bit and burned it under his nose.

That there should still be some doubt suggest the need for competent microscopic analysis, as burning provides a subjective, unreliable result. While the foundation material in the rugs I have examined appears to be t cotton, an answer must be deferred until the rugs are more intensively studied. Figure 6.

Chinese rug with a single large dragon, 17'6" x 10'. The othe feature of these rugs, suggesting that they are more than standard workshop precuts is the elegance of the design themselves. Aesthetic quality is surely the most difficult feature of any art form around which to communicate, but there are few dissenters to the observation that there is something special in the drawing of these rugs. While not all are great masterpieces Lot in Sept.

Unfortunately, although the drawing usually shows a grace that many consider superior to the bulk of the eroded brown border carpets, there is no clear way to date these pieces, as none of them have inscribed dates. Recently there have been attempts to match up designs of these carpets with those found on various ancestor portraits, which could presumably be dated with some certainty.

While several carpets of the eroded brown border type have been matched with ancestor portraits, efforts to do the same with the group under discussion here have been not been so convincing. So far as I am aware, no carpets from this group have been successfully matched with a portrait. Some of these paintings, which extend back into Ming times, mat be dated within a few years, and some show enough carpet. They are not without problems when used as a basis for dating, however, as some are apparently not actual portraits, but were produced years after the death of the honored ancestors as a means of establishing noble lineage.

Another problem is that even ancestor portraits whose Ming attribution seems secure often show carpets quite unlike anything that has survived to the present time. Among the comments made after the delivery of this paper at the Hamburg ICOC were wildly conflicting opinions as to date. Shortly thereafter, a London carpet dealer announced that he had dealt with seventeen of these rugs, nine of which had been traced back to the Imperial Palace in Beijing.

This latter material is difficult to critique, and, until details of such claims appear in print and can be examined by others, one is left with the choice of accepting them on faith or filling them among the vast accumulation of heresay so common in the rug field. When I visited the Imperial Palace in , I consulted with custodians there, who were completely unable to locate any archival material related to the carpets that were in or had been in the Palace, although I was able to examine a small number of pieces then to be found there.

In three of the main reception rooms, there were carpets on the large squarish platforms under the thrones and other furnishings. These carpets were large enough to overhang on all four sides, and they provided an explanation for the function of similar pieces that appeared in the West. All three of these carpets were at the time covered by transparent plastic, and I was forbidden to touch or examine and.

As for their having been original to their location, I could only hypothesize that they had probably not been in place long. The emptiness of most of the rooms in the Imperial City is not difficult to understand when one considers that it has been looted twice in the last century. While the Imperial City was apparently left relatively intact at the time, the Summer Palace was thoroughly looted, and then, at the order of Lord Elgin son of the Lord Elgin who brought to England the Parthenon statues it was burned with the intent of punishing the Chinese Emperor for the mistreatment of European prisoners.

Parts of the loot were auctioned in the courtyard of the Lama Temple, also plundered, on October 11, Figure 8. Carpet from the Gion Matsuri Treasury, Kyoto. At least one carpet in an almost identical design has been found outside of Japan. These soldiers proceeded to pillage the city until they carried away everything perceived to be of value. Every place of importance, indeed, had been picked clean as a bone. Now that the road is well open, dozens of amateurs, too, from the ends of the earth have been pouring in to buy up everything they can.

Lest it be imaged that the imperial household had been able to hide away the most treasured items before the sack of Beijing, one must recall that the Empress herself had not recognized the threat until a few days before the fall of the city and had been compelled herself to leave at the last minute disguised as a peasant. Eyewitness accounts make it clear that the vast palace was systematically pillaged, with great train loads of booty being carried away to find their ultimate destination in the antiques markets of Europe and America.

Under the chaotic circumstances described, it would seem virtually impossible to determine, after the event, just which artifacts came from the Imperial City at that time an which from the thousands of private homes also looted. The Empress returned nearly a year later and re-established an imperial household with what could be salvaged from other sources, but even this reconstituted treasury was again removed from the Forbidden City in February of , and almost all of it came to reside in the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

It too six trains and five months to carry all of these treasures from Beijing, an, eventually, thousands of crates were carried to Taiwan on three cargo ships. No wonder almost all of the rooms of the palace, which I methodically surveyed in , were completely empty of artifacts. An yet on continues to hear of objects on the art market that can confidently be trace to the Forbidden City, where, I was told by the custodians in , there were no inventories of pre materials.

The problem thus becomes on of the determining the provenance of looted objects, a difficult job at best.

Dates in Oriental Rugs. Dates are sometimes woven into the end borders or fields of Oriental carpets, usually using Arabic calligraphy (find out about signatures. This guide to a rug's age was published by Nazmiyal in NYC. or variegation in color, are made with later, light-fast synthetic dyes post-dating the 's. In the.

So what is the big deal about oriental rugs anyway? How is it that people can get so enthusiastic about something we walk on with our dirty feet? Part of the fascination lies in the history of the product. Rug weaving is one of the oldest industries in the world, dating back over years. What makes it even more interesting is that there are actual rug remnants and nearly complete artifacts dating back over years!

Since the mid's when Carbon 14 dating was first applied to old oriental carpets, actually to a group of kelim that were being offered to McCoy Jones, we are on record voicing our suspicions about the efficacy of this procedure when used in this regard. Regardless of the refinements the process has undergone since then, the issues of result calibration and de-contamination loom large in accepting any test results for old oriental rugs as facts.

Antique rugs provide a unique combination of beauty and history to any room. Learning how to identify your rug can help you learn a bit about its past, understand how to care for this type of antique, and even get a sense of its value.

The timeless appeal of the Persian rug

Reproduced with permission by Murray Eiland. No text or photographs may be reproduced without permission from Dr. Murray Eiland or myself. Figure 7. Chinese rug with two dragons. Wendel Swan Collection.

Don’t Sweep it Under: Best Practices for Valuing Oriental Rugs

Consequently, Persian carpets are usually considered as ones originating from these regions. Age is a determinant of value, and sellers use techniques to simulate it, so what may appear to be an antique may, on closer inspection, turn out to be far from it. If you suspect your carpet to be older than 50 years -- which is the usual definition of an antique -- examining a variety of characteristics can confirm this. Determine the carpet's style by consulting an encyclopedia of Persian carpets. Knowing the style can help determine age, because some -- such as Qum or white Kashan -- have been made only since Do not date the carpet solely by the style; it's common practice to reproduce these styles in modern factories. Look for signs of wear, damage or repair. An antique rug is likely to have worn pile. It may also have frayed edges and holes. Look for damage that has been repaired.

Thanks, Anas, Steve.

Generally, dating a rug within a quarter of a century will suffice. There is, however, one acceptation. The reason for this is because the tax regulations in some countries make acceptations for items that are considered antiques.

Dates in Oriental Rugs

It's not easy to determine the age of a rug. The best way to learn how is to get out there and experience as many rugs as possible to learn to spot the differences. Listen or read more to find out how experts age a rug. John Maher: Hi, Sam. Today we're talking about how to determine the age of a rug, antique and semi-antique rugs. Sam, what determines if a rug is an antique rug? It's all about age and that's how we frame it, but a lot of people have different points of age which they consider antique and other people have other times they think it is. I'm a big believer in that it has to be a hundred years old. Some of my colleagues think 75 years is enough to be an antique, I think a hundred is where I think the majority of people come down as far as age for a rug to be truly what we call an antique rug. Then, semi-antique would fit in that criteria probably anywhere from about 50 to a hundred -- that year-old would be a semi-antique or pretty darn close, but not quite there.

How To Determine The Age Of A Rug

The pile may be low or worn away exposing foundation, but relatively new modern contemporary rugs can get worn quickly, and very old rugs can sometimes survive in good condition if they have been in the possession of thoughtful owners. The back of the rug offers a better opportunity to determine age. Newer rugs will feel fuzzy on the back since their yarns still possess their fibrous surface. As a rug ages, even if walked on carefully, the underside will become polished or abraded through pressure and friction, diminishing the fuzzy or hairy texture. Very old rugs will feel gritty, sandy, or even smooth on the back. A rug that looks tightly woven, but that still feels somewhat floppy or supple, is old, since even tightly woven rugs become supple with time. Color or dye quality also helps.

About Rug Dating Part 1

Dates are sometimes woven into the end borders or fields of Oriental carpets, usually using Arabic calligraphy find out about signatures and inscriptions in Oriental rugs. Usually a date in a rug can be taken at face value, but not always. In the past, rugs were often woven by individuals who were functionally illiterate. Someone else would have drawn the date for the weaver to copy, and the person writing the date may have been only semi-literate. In such cases it is common to see Arabic numerals reversed, woven upside down, or so distorted as to make the date difficult to read.

Rug Dating

Sultanabad and Mahal rugs are produced in the area around the city of Arak, which has a history of rug weaving dating back to the midth Century. The city was originally founded in as Sultanabad and later in was renamed to the city of Arak. The city is older than these dates might indicate. The term Sultanabad has come to distinguish the oldest and highest quality Mahal carpets, also known as Ziegler Mahals, named after a British firm in Manchester, founded in, that supervised the production for exports to the West. Most Sultanabad and Mahal rugs have bold and floral designs, whether they utilize classical medallion or overall designs of vine scrolls and palmettes. Traditionally, dark reds and blues were common colors with highlights of soft green and ivory. SM-LG Size: Sultanabad Rug HM 10' 10'' x 14' 11''.

The Oldest Persian Rugs Ever Found

Discovering exactly when an undated rug was made is difficult. However, rugs can typically dated to a given quarter of a century. Moreover, a certified rug appraisal is important when insuring a rug. Dating a rug from its weave and design requires extensive specialist knowledge and can only be undertaken by an expert. The condition and appearance of a rug can be affected by a number of factors other than age. A relatively old rug that has been well looked after may be in far better condition than a newer item that has seen less considerate use, and some contemporary items are deliberately made to look old by the use of chemical washes.

One of the more intriguing and complex product categories in the insurance property claims world are Oriental rugs. These beautiful items have been with humans for an extraordinarily long time. Remarkably, it was woven using the same basic techniques passed down through the generations to the present day. And although they are much more commonplace now, many are still items of high value and often show up in insurance claims. America has its own tradition of hand-woven rugs made by Native Americans in the Southwest. When appraising an Oriental rug, it is important to first determine the type of construction.

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