Rugs – History and Beyond

We often tend to get confused between rugs and carpets. But, they both are different. The biggest difference between area rugs and carpets is their size, especially when it is in relation to the room. Rugs can measure up to 2 meters in length, whereas carpets take up the entire space and are also attached to the flooring. Rugs are meant to be a secondary flooring laid over the top of a permanent flooring, such as hardwood. So they can be easily picked up, rolled, and moved around. Whereas carpets are meant to be permanent or at least semi-permanent. 

There is a very fine history behind the invention and use of rugs. We, humans, tend to have a natural desire for a cozy atmosphere. So the cavemen felt the need to cover the floor with the hide of some furry animal to satiate their need for comfort and warmth. Although times have changed, there is still a similar inclination towards warm and fuzzy atmospheres that motivates us to put rugs on our floor. Initially, they were used as sleeping mats and made from animal skins. They were also used as a shroud for the dead and even as a bundle to carry possessions and tools. With time, rugs changed from being private possessions into objects for barter and trade.

Rugs are made from vegetable, animal, and man-made fibers. Wool offers a balance of durability, economy, resiliency, and cleanability, so it is considered the classic fiber for rugs. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a few silk rugs were made as prayer rugs. The actual time when the rug-making began is still blurry, but textile fragments that date back several thousand years back have been discovered all over Asia as well. The origin of the earliest fabric floor coverings is said to have been begun in the Orient.  

The oldest known surviving rug is the Pazyryk rug, which was discovered in a tomb in Southern Siberia. It was before 12th-century A.D. that the weaving of pile rugs was developed in India and then spread to the rest of the East. In the Orient, the rugs were usually made of hand-knotted pile fabrics. During 1100 and 1200 A.D. crusaders probably brought rugs to Europe when they traveled to the Middle East. In the earliest 13th century, the Saracens of Southern Spain made hand-knotted rugs in Europe. The Moors who invaded France are known to have founded several rug factories that made rug making evidently widespread. It was a flourishing business in Persia during the 14th and 15th centuries. Fine Persian rugs had as many as around 1000 knots per square inch, and these rugs were also imported into Western European countries during the early 15th century.  In the 1500s, England started making pile rugs. England was the center of the European rug and carpet industry during the 1700s, and soon after in the 1780s, an English Inventor, Edmund Cartwright, developed the power loom. 

In the early 1840s, a Massachusetts inventor, Erastus B. Bigelow perfected the power loom for making carpets. Until the 19th century, flat-woven fabrics were the most common floor coverings in the West as Oriental and domestic hand-knotted pile rugs were unaffordable for a few families. Oriental rugs went out of style in the early twenties and were replaced by a single color, machine-made carpet, or of an overall pattern. By the early 1950s, the tufting carpeting machine was also introduced. 

These days rugs are mostly woven using a mechanized process, making them economical for the masses. But still, hand-woven carpets hold an artistic value and are sold in bulk quantities. These rugs are woven with many different piles and synthetic or natural fibers which range from wool, nylon to even polyester, and acrylic. 

Now that we have told you so much about the legacy of rugs and their making, make sure to check them out at Sulit Deco-Hub and grace your home with our widest range of customized rugs. 

Thank you for reading! 

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