Oriental Area Rugs: Armenian Carpets

The former Soviet republic of Armenia, stretching over an area of ​​more than 11,000 square miles, is a mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Since ancient times, the handicraft of Armenian artisans had been exported to different regions of the world. These works of Armenian art (textiles, stone, wooden articles, and pottery) were known as prime trade objects in European markets and occupied an important place in the daily life of various cultures. As the most important form of weaving, production of rugs was one of the oldest and most important crafts practiced in the region. Records of historians and travelers give evidence of the extensive reputation of Armenian rugs in the Middle Ages. As a soft fabric with desirable patterns, carpets were convenient to lay on the floor, cover walls, hang in doorways, and throw on tables and beds. The role of carpets in daily village life determined their size, choice of thread, color range, as well as their artistic structure.

Throughout the entire year, hand-knotted wool carpets, a Caucasus specialty, are offered at local "arts and crafts" markets throughout Armenia, among which some antique and valuable pieces can every now and then be found. The National Art Gallery in the capital city of "Yerevan" has over 16,000 works that date back to the Middle Ages, which show Armenia's rich tales and stories of the past. Arab, Mongolian, Tartar invasions and wars, continuous migrations, and great fires destroyed numerous valuable artifacts of the material culture of the Armenian people, including some of the early rugs. Nonetheless, historical, linguistic, literary sources, traditional forms as well as the origin of artistic decorations of carpets that have been preserved, complete the history of Armenian carpets, confirm their high quality, and determine their place and role within the art of Persian and Oriental rugs .

Armenian rugs are held in high respect for the use of local material. Wool, silk, cotton, sometimes gold and silver threads as well as soft goat hair were used in Armenian rug weaving. Those Armenian rugs woven entirely of wool (warp, weft, and pile) are reliably expensive and highly appreciated among carpet collectors. Armenian wool is ranked next to the Egyptian wool. In Armenia, wool is dyed by means of animal, vegetable, and mineral dyes. Dyeing the wool is an important step in rug weaving, since this is where the artistic meaning of the rug begins. A common system of dyeing the wool exists among Armenian rugs, though each master works according to his own inspirational forces. The process is performed in copper or clay pots, and contents mixed with wood spoon. In order to dry it off, the dyed thread is thrown onto stones under direct sunlight. Faded threads are faded again and dried, sometimes many times until the desired colors are achieved. Threads are sometimes discharged in warm cattle sheds, although the final product might look something different in this method.

Armenian looms are either vertical (Western Armenia) or horizontal (some provinces in Eastern Armenia). Often more than one rug is simultaneously woven by Armenian women at the same loom. Most Armenian weavers use the Symmetrical (Turkish) knots, except for Eastern Armenian rug weavers which use Asymmetric (Persian) knots. Rather than producing the design on a piece of paper (called a cartoon), the rug to be copied is usually placed next to the loom, or is woven from memory. As values ​​of applied arts constantly continue to receive special attention, interest in hand-knotted Oriental rugs also continues to rise. With innovations within the rug industry taking place so quickly for the past couple of decades, the future of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs will be very interesting to watch.

Source by Hans Saghaei

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