A short article about our travelling companions in Uzbekistan and photos of Suzanis in the Tashkent Museum:
Some photos on this page are courtesy of the talented mosaic artist Suzanne Spahi…http://mosaikashop.com/
A short article about our travelling companions in Uzbekistan and photos of Suzanis in the Tashkent Museum:
Some photos on this page are courtesy of the talented mosaic artist Suzanne Spahi…http://mosaikashop.com/
The Baluch rugs we sell are from the 19th century and found their way into the marketplace in Peshawar, Pakistan.
All these rugs were hand woven by Nomadic tribes of Baluchistan. They would hand spin their lustrous thick wools from sheep, camel and goat and dye them using primarily the vegetal or mineral dyes available to them. These rugs would take months to weave and were used to carry grain, as saddlebags for donkeys, as trapping for their animals and wall hangings for their tents. They are very well constructed and mostly one of a kind in pattern. Often new techniques and designs would be tried out in these small pieces. Each is a beautiful work of art in itself!
I have seen these rugs and bags put to interesting tasks in modern homes. Saddlebags make a great set of matching throw pillows when cut in half and stuffed. Many still have the tabs and loops for closure. They also make a nice chairback when slipped over a ladderback or bistroback chair. A single bag makes a nice dust cover to slip your laptop in when not in use. Trappings make a great decorative valance for a window or doorway. They also look great hung on the wall. Small rugs do double duty as a table or dresser runner
These are all collectible examples of nomad art. Each piece utilizes the design skills and showcases the individuality of each weaver. Each rug is hand-woven using beautiful vegetable dyed Baluchi wools. Because of the small size of these pieces different weaving techniques and design elements are used which are rarely found in the larger rugs of this region. These pieces were woven with utility in mind. We see saddlebags, animal trappings, tent trappings, and small rugs, all woven to be used and embellish the daily lives of these nomads. In our homes of today these small pieces also have many uses. They make beautiful floor or bench pillows, sofa pillows, wall hangings.
I’d be interested in hearing from you if you have any other great uses for these small pieces that I can share on this site!
Holly and Robert Mosby have been traveling the world for years in search of antique rugs to add to our collection. We have visited many cities in 44 countries. We look for old rugs to study or to buy. It has been an interesting journey. We hope you enjoy seeing the rugs we’ve collected as much as we have appreciated the travel to acquire them. In this day of commercial goods with no historic or handmade quality, it is nice to look to the past and surround ourselves with beauty conceived and woven by previous generations. The remarkable people we have met along our way have inspired us with their cultures and broadened our views. Thank you for visiting our website!
Donegal Carpets was founded in 1898 by Scottish textile manufacturer Alexander Morton in Killybegs , a town in County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. Morton put to practice the techniques of the Donegal people who had been working with wool for generations. These carpets, known as Donegals, are hand-knotted in the Turkish style. Killybegs became famous for its tapestries and carpets, some of which were produced on the biggest carpet loom in the world at the “Donegal Carpet Factory”. Donegal carpets can be found in Buckingham Palace, on the Cunard Oceanliners the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and in government offices in Washington, D.C. The Mortons sold the company to a consortium called Donegal Carpets Ltd. in 1957. There were four manufacturing houses at one time in County Donegal but three of the four facilities closed during The Great Depression and in 1987 the last facility closed. Local Donegal people petitioned the government to help re-open them and in 1999 they were making carpets again. Here is a link to a company that produces new Donegal carpets today https://visitkillybegs.com/carpet-factory/
Here I am adjusting our ceiling mounted camera lens to take a wide frame image of a 9 foot by 12 foot rug. Down below is Robert using the computer software to shoot the photo. The adjustment is so sensitive that a slight mishandling of the camera on the mount will cause the room to skew and the rug to look like it’s not straight. This ladder is 17′ tall and I hate heights! So if our images aren’t perfect, now you know why!!
This type of rug is well described in this article published in 1915. I attach the image of a rug currently owned by Mosby Antique Rug . As you can see, the difference between the rug in the article and ours is the size and its condition. This is a very rare rug to find.
Life-Size Animals Emerge from Persian Rugs in Perception-Defying Sculptures by Debbie Lawson
This is SO cool that I had to share it with my customers.
Reprinted from the Art website COLOSSAL
British sculptor Debbie Lawson works in the space between two and three dimensions, forming wild animals that emerge from old-fashioned rugs. The artist builds her animals from scratch, using chicken wire and masking tape, and then covers them with identical or near-identical Persian carpets to create the illusion that the creature is fused with the hanging rug.
Lawson explains to Colossal, “I have always ‘accidentally’ spotted images in patterns, on textured walls and floors made of wood or lino – any material really. It’s an obsession that I decided to explore in the studio, using first wood grain and then carpet to make work in which the pattern morphed into an actual image or form…More recently I have focussed on animal forms to explore the idea of camouflage, and of its opposite: display.”
Red Bear is on display until August 19 2018 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London as part of the 250th Summer Exhibition curated by Grayson Perry. Persian bear is permanently displayed (along with a moose in the same style) at London’s Town Hall Hotel. You can see more of Lawson’s finished works and take peeks into her studio process on Instagram.
Here is a map of historic regions important to the weaving of Oriental Rugs.
A fabulous exploration of modern life in Kazakhstan as seen through the lens of photojournalist Wayne Eastep. Engaging copy and stunning photographs give you insight as to what life is like on the steppes and cities of Kazakhstan today.
See More: The Soul of Kazakhstan By Wayne Eastep
The Pazyryk (Russian: Пазырык) burials are a number of Scythian Iron Age tombs found in the Pazyryk Valley of the Ukok plateau in the Altai Mountains, Siberia, south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, Russia; the site is close to the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Numerous comparable burials have been found in neighboring western Mongolia.
The tombs are Scythian-type kurgans, barrow-like tomb mounds containing wooden chambers covered over by large cairns of boulders and stones, dated to the 4th - 3rd centuries BCE. The spectacular burials at Pazyryk are responsible for the introduction of the term kurgan, a Russian word of Turkic origin, into general usage to describe these tombs. The region of the Pazyryk kurgans is considered the type site of the wider Pazyryk culture. The site is included in the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The bearers of the Pazyryk culture were horse-riding pastoral nomads of the steppe, and some may have accumulated great wealth through horse trading with merchants in Persia, India and China. This wealth is evident in the wide array of finds from the Pazyryk tombs, which include many rare examples of organic objects such as felt hangings, Chinese silk, the earliest known pile carpet, horses decked out in elaborate trappings, and wooden furniture and other household goods. These finds were preserved when water seeped into the tombs in antiquity and froze, encasing the burial goods in ice, which remained frozen in the permafrost until the time of their excavation.
Because of a freak climatic freeze, some of the Altaic burials, notably those of the 5th century BCE at Pazyryk and neighbouring sites, such as Katanda, Shibe, and Tuekt, were isolated from external climatic variations by a protective layer of ice that conserved the organic substances buried in them. Certain geometric designs and sun symbols, such as the circle and rosette, recur at Pazyryk but are completely outnumbered by animal motifs. Such specifically Scythian features as zoomorphic junctures—i.e., the addition of a part of one animal to the body of another—are rarer in the Altaic region than in southern Russia. The stag and its relatives, however, figure as prominently in Altaic as in Scythian art.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Article previously published on Jozan.net oriental rug news, articles, directory and e-gallery
by Dr. Elmira Gyul
Suzanis, the large-scale decorative handmade wall panels, are some of the most popular kind of Uzbeks and Tajiks embroideries. They hold a very special place in traditional Central Asian culture. Such kind of embroideries along with carpets decorate the living rooms of Central Asian inhabitants.
Admirers of traditional textiles value Suzanis for their vigorous coloring and original patterns, natural materials and refinement of embroidery skills.
Meanwhile, their true sense are often hidden from us. The important role of Suzanis are connected with the belief to the magic forces of their patterns.
Scholars have already marked the common protective value of suzani embroideries, such as their usage in ceremonial and cult practice as protective force. The patterns within the embroideries also carry the same protective meaning, as well as having their own unique historical interpretations. Each element is a part of the Universe, and the composition is a image of the World, with harmony and balance, sometimes unachievable in real life.
Suzanis of each regions or center have their own local features. Astral and solar symbols predominate in Tashkent and partly in Samarkand Suzanis. In Tashkent Suzanis are known as palak (heavens, arab.), oy-palak (moon heavens) or yulduz-palak (star heavens).
The images of heavenly stars are the ancient tradition, which roots go to the ancient strata of culture. The artisans considered these patterns provided the heaven protection. Step-by-step old cults were replaced by the new ones – as a result, astral symbols transformed into vegetative and floral symbols (Surkhandarya and Samarkand Suzanis, for example). Transformation of solar forms into vegetative symbols reflects the change of religious representations in a society and depreciation of old symbols.
Vegetative motives in Suzanis are a reflection of the everlasting nature. The content is connected with the ancient cult of fertility, which has preserved by centuries for example in Ferghana Valley Suzanis.
Some patterns are the results of the influence of creativity by professional artists, who worked in the courts of Muslim rulers and produced the so called court carpets. They created compositions with palmettes, flanked by leafs, blossoming flowers, rows of bunches of flowers etc.; these magnificent flowers were symbols of a Muslim paradise garden. Some Bukhara, Nurata and Shahrisabz Suzanis are a free imitation of popular carpet drawings (gul-buta, gul-dasta, chorshoh-u yakmoch – four branches and one moon – compositions).
The meanings of former solar, Zoroastrian and totemic symbols have been forgotten. Instead craftswomen have considered these patterns simply “useful” and protective. As a result, many names of motives don’t reflect their original sense.
Nevertheless in each case Suzani drawings is the image of an ideal universe, unity of magic and beauty. Suzani embroidery is the unique phenomenon of late medieval culture of Central Asian’s cities and villages; it has kept the ancient archetypes and medieval symbols in the patterns and has reflected interaction of various historical and art traditions.
Dr. Elmira Gyul, Fine Arts Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan
We fully recommend that anyone interested in a most fascinating book should acquire this quintessential volume on the study of Saddle Rugs.
A Comprehensive Study of Saddle rugs from Ningxia, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet from the 5th Century BC with 288 Full Color Plates in English And Chinese!
A ‘Limited Edition Copy signed by the Author’ of this 2 volume set is available through this link to the authors website.
We actually have a few on hand in the US for immediate shipping if you contact us!
WASHINGTON, May 30, 2008 — One of the most elegant times in America was the Jazz Age of the 1920s and 30s.
It was a time when, after the horrors of World War I, there was a taste for extravagant clothes and debonair film stars. Long silk gowns, men in ‘smoking’ attire and, on living room and bedroom floors, not antique Turkish and Persian carpets but – surprisingly – newly made Chinese ones.
Why Chinese? The answer is the strange story of the ‘Chinese Art Deco’ rugs. They were carpets that perfectly fit the spirit of their time and today still evoke that time and no other. But they came about almost by accident.
One of those accidents was the fact that World War I badly disrupted the usual Mideastern trade links for luxury carpets from Turkey and Iran. Another was that people wanted a break from the past in the design of virtually everything, from buildings to furniture to fabrics.
These opportunities were recognized by American entrepreneurs working in Tianjin, China. The port city, south of Beijing, was a major center in the international wool trade and until the 1900s had no history of rug manufacturing. But the expatriate U.S. traders soon turned it into one of China’s biggest weaving areas as they filled the vacuum in the American market, first with traditional Chinese carpets and then with more and more Western-looking variations of the originals.
The most successful design that emerged was something that perfectly fit the Art Deco style of the day. The carpets so complimented what was going on in the West that they became known as Chinese Art Deco even though there was no Art Deco movement in China itself.
One American entrepreneur’s name in particular is associated with the rugs: Walter Nichols.
He produced so many of them in Tianjin that Chinese Art Deco rugs are also known generically as ‘Nichols’ rugs. But it has long been debated whether he and other American producers actually designed the carpets or whether the Chinese artists which they employed did so.
Elizabeth Bogen, one of the few rug scholars who has studied Tianjin rugs closely, believes it was the Chinese artists.
She finds her evidence in the fact that while the rugs were made for the American market – where Art Deco was characterized by industrial-looking, streamlined forms – great numbers of the Chinese weavings are effusively curvilinear and floral. And those curvilinear patterns seem much less inspired by what was happening in America than by the more naturalist-looking Art Deco tradition in France, half-a-world away.
So how to explain the contradiction in styles? Bogen observes that by the 1920s there were Chinese students who had studied art in many major art schools in Japan and Europe and were familiar with international trends.
In Paris, particularly, they found Western art was being heavily influenced by “Japonisme,” or a fascination with Japan’s styles. If these students later became artists for the Chinese Art Deco rugs, it might explain what Bogen calls the rugs’ “exuberant experimentation with Chinese, Japanese, and European design styles and pallets.”
Bogen made these suggestions in her article “What the Wool Trade Wrought,” which appeared in the September-October 2001 issue of Hali Magazine.
The design origins of the Chinese Art Deco rugs may never be fully known. But the whole story leads to some interesting speculation about how Eastern designs get modified for Western tastes and whether the results are in fact Eastern or Western creations.
Bogen argues that the Tianjin rugs were not just the result of an interplay of market forces but also of “contemporary currents in Western art – currents that in turn were heavily influenced by exposure to the arts of Japan and China.”
Put in other words, this is a reminder that the greatest tradition in art, even in the most traditional arts, is to freely borrow ideas across borders. To try to classify art – and particularly the contemporary art of any period – as belonging to one region or another is to miss the excitement of how art reflects a universal human experience as much as it does a local one.
Reprinted from TEA AND CARPETS Blogspot
Talk, news and links about oriental carpets, carpet collecting and the wonderful world of east meets west
BEIJING, Dec. 18, 2010 – Like the other countries of the ancient Silk Roads, China has a rich carpet tradition.
But it is a younger heritage than those of Central and South Asia or the Middle East and very much unlike them.
Because the first pile carpets in China seem to have been woven only some 500 years ago – in the 15th century — it seems clear pile carpet weaving arrived to China from elsewhere.
The best guess is that the technique traveled up the Silk Road into northwestern China from neighboring East Turkestan.
Northwestern China was, and is, a vast steppe land peopled mostly by Turkic-Mongol peoples. At that time, these steppe lands, which today include Inner Mongolia, were outside the Great Wall protecting China proper.
So, the early carpets were not ethnically “Chinese” — in the sense of the Han Chinese who lived within the wall (outlined in red here).
But for reasons that still fascinate historians, they almost immediately became a medium for Chinese – not nomadic – art.
And it is that quality which makes Chinese carpets so unlike their more “oriental” relatives.
Carpet scholars Muray L. Eiland Jr. and Muray Eiland III write in their book Oriental Carpets (1998) that “although it is possible that the pile carpet is not indigenous to China and was introduced from Central Asia, its designs have become as classically Chinese as those of textiles of porcelain.
“The same floral forms, of lotus and chrysanthemum, appear repeatedly, while the same simple devices of frets and swastikas are common in the borders. There is a lavish style of mythical animals and scrolling vines and more styles of the repetition of simple geometric figures.”
That the carpets should become so classically Chinese is surprising because the steppe lands — which are a rich wool producing region — had a millennia-old tradition of felt carpet making with its own rich vocabulary of motifs.
But it may be that by the 15th century, the people of northwest China already were heavily influenced by the overwhelming culture of China proper.
It is likely, too, that in many of the main commercial centers for the rugs, such as Ningxia right beside the Great Wall, urban populations were already ethnically mixed.
The rugs woven in northwest China had several markets.
One market was the nomadic lands to the north, Mongolia and beyond, where the rugs were used to decorate yurts.
A second market was Chinese Muslims who needed substitutes for prayer rugs, which were not woven in China.
And the third and richest market – and the one which undoubtedly did the most to determine styles and designs — was temples and noble homes.
Ningxia rugs, for example, were used extensively in the monasteries of Tibet and northwest China. The temple carpets included Banner rugs, Hanging rugs, Curtain carpets and Pillar carpets.
The Pillar carpets were sometimes made in two halves to fit around a column. Picture here is a column carpet from the 1880s in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection.
Interestingly, special colors were reserved for special audiences. Yellow was reserved for royal use, such the court and temples, while red was for gift carpets exchanged between aristocrats.
But if these pile carpets are so distinctly Chinese in appearance, does it mean that the indigenous people of the northwest contributed no influence of their own?
Hans Bidder, a German diplomat and carpet historian who lived many years in China before his death in 1963, believes the felt carpet culture of the steppe lands had a great effect on how the pile woven carpets were decorated.
Bidder is particularly intrigued by the way the fields of Chinese carpets so often appear to be blank canvases upon which motifs – from animals to Taoist and Buddhist symbols – are placed in almost ‘applique’ fashion.
Often the motifs stand out so dramatically from the background that almost appear to have been inlaid into the field of the carpet the way motifs are rolled and pressed into the plain backgrounds of felt carpets.
The appearance is sometimes heightened by cutting the pile to put the motifs in even higher relief – a practice that remains very common in Chinese carpets today.
That preference for high relief makes a fascinating link not only to the art sensibilities of the nomadic felt makers but also to a period in China’s own history when – due to the Mongol conquests of the 13th century – felt carpets briefly and unexpectedly rose to the level of a court art in Beijing.
Bidder writes that “during the period of Mongol Chinese rule (1260 to 1341) the felt carpet developed into a very luxurious object.”
He continues, “in the year 1299 felt carpets with an area of 331 square meters were manufactured for the ‘Palace of the Special Chambers’ (imperial harem) … felts became so refined and improved in quality that the artistry of felt carpets finally equaled that of the best Oriental carpets and sometimes exceeded it.” (Bidder, Carpets from Eastern Turkestan, published 1964.)
It is interesting to speculate on how much this experience may have helped set the subsequent taste for bold, high-relief motifs on knotted rugs. But the impact of Mongol rule on Chinese rugs may have been still larger than that.
Bidder notes that ancient China – the Han peoples within the Great Wall – traditionally associated wool with the barbarian world. Their fabrics of choice were cotton and silk, instead.
It was only through centuries of contact with nomads on the northern border that Chinese slowly began to adopt the use of felt mats as utilitarian floor coverings or insulation padding on beds. The example of the Mongol court would have done much to convince Chinese to regard wool as an artistic medium, as well.
Still, when weaving looms for carpets arrived in China, many people still regarded them as something alien.
Bidder, a scholar of Chinese texts, cites the earliest known mention of the technology as noting the “weaving process has been taken over from the barbarians and is performed in their strange way.” The book was written sometime in the Ming period of the 14th to 17th centuries.
But if wool carpet weaving took hold relatively late in China, it rapidly developed into a major industry.
The most active centers in the northwest – the ones most early carpets are named after – became the provinces of Kansu, Ningxia, and Suiyan (a now defunct province located in today’s Inner Mongolia), as well as another part of Inner Mongolia near the city of Baotou (or Paotou)
These centers thrived in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, setting the stage for the phenomenal growth of the Chinese export carpet industry when China opened to the world and major new weaving centers appeared in Peking and its nearby port Tiantsin.
From historical records, it appears wool looms appeared in Beijing in the early 1860s. There carpet-maker developed new patterns based on Ningxia carpet designs but which progressively responded to Western market demands.
Like the earlier Chinese carpets, the new Peking rugs depicted Chinese symbols and designs used for hundreds of years.
But where the symbols tended to be profuse and cluttered together on domestic rugs, the new rugs spaced them out — usually around a central medallion — in harmonious designs more suited to western tastes.
Blue Peking rugs made in Western room sizes gained huge popularity, particularly in America. They were followed by other rugs directly produced for the American market, often by companies owned by American expatriates in China.
The most famous of these “American” exports were the Chinese Art Deco rugs of the 1920s and 1930s.
Posted by Tea and Carpets
Excerpts from an article by: Jane Tulanian
The term Art Deco refers to the style launched at the 1925 Paris World's Fair Exhibition of Modern and Industrial Decorative Art.
Art Deco rugs introduced a new, nonrestrictive color palette. Bright, never-before-used combinations were the new trend. The soft blue of traditional Chinese rugs was replaced by a more vibrant lapis blue, while the traditional calm gold gave way to varying shades of ochre, green, raspberry, plum, purple and teal also became popular.
Because of its low production costs, China became the hub for weaving Art Deco rugs exported to the States. There were hundreds of factories producing rugs but it was two enterprising Americans who dominated: Helen Fette and Walter Nichols. Little did they know their names would become synonymous with the term and virtually all rugs woven during that era, which ran from the mid 1920's to around 1935.
Helen Fette went to China as a missionary, selling small rugs to raise funds for charities. She teamed up with Chinese rug manufacturer Li Meng Shu to form the Fette-Li Company. They started producing rugs out of the Peking area in the early 1920's and were one of the largest exporters of the period. Fette rugs are recognizable by their floppy feel. The cotton warps are thinner and more pliable than those used in Nichols carpets, resulting in a soft, supple feel to the pile.
In 1924 Walter Nichols opened the doors of his venture, Nichols Super Yarn and Carpets in Tientsin, North China. Super Yarn because of the machine spun yarn, the strong cotton used for the foundation, and the overall tightly packed weave of the rugs. In stark contrast to his Fette counterpart, a Nichols rug was quite dense and heavy.
Both Fette and Nichols placed identifying fabric tags on the back of their rugs. Nichols also stamped his name onto the backside of the fringe, however if the fringe has worn down or been repaired, the mark is usually absent. Because Fette and Nichols were so closely associated with the Deco period, rugs woven in their trademark style, absent any remaining identification marks, are routinely referred to as Fette or Nichols style.
No other Oriental rugs are as representative of their time as the Chinese Decos. The dynamics of the designs and the colors used are hallmarks of the era. It was a time of experimentation with abstract forms and unrestrained colors. The style arrived energetically, but was cut short due to the Great Depression. The few remaining factories were destroyed when Japan invaded China during World War II.
This article is a reprint scanned in from a brochure published in the 1930's by the Nichols Chinese Rug Company
This little brochure has been compiled with the object of presenting Chinese Rugs in general and Nichols Super Rugs in particular before prospective purchasers in a manner we believe will stimulate your interest and appreciation.
All experts agree that Chinese Super Rugs as made today represent the greatest intrinsic value in floor covering fabrics produced anywhere in the world.
Nichols Super Rugs combine that wonderful fabric with designs, colors and workmanship placing them in a class by themselves. We have illustrated the following pages as profusely as possible with actual photographs to help us achieve our objective.
The art of making woven rugs and tapestries goes far back into the musty realms of antiquity. Chinese rugs may have originated from other countries such as Egypt and Persia but the first woven rugs were spoken of in Chinese annals so
long ago that Chinese carpets may well have antedated those of any country. The theories as to whether rug making originated in China or came from the Near East cannot be substantiated because records so far back in the dim past are confusing. The growth of rug weaving may even have been contemporaneous in the two parts of the world as a result of the intercourse maintained by early traders. The swastika which appears in so many Chinese designs is also found in Egyptian symbolism. It means good luck, abundance, happiness and prosperity. Some scholars believe this sign to have originated in China. Carpet weaving attained a high degree of artistic value in the Tigris,Euphrates Valley and though no Chinese designs are linked with the ruins of Ninevah, the Persian knot used in weaving most Chinese rugs may have come from there. At first carpets woven in China were used principally for saddle cloths and for the K'ang or brick couch of the North but with the advent of Buddhism they assumed greater artistic importance being used not only for prayer rugs for devotees to kneel upon but also for temple floor coverings and wall hangings. Until the Ch'ing dynasty carpets were made only in Northwest China and were brought into Peking as tribute to the Court. The modern industry was founded by a Llama priest who came to pay tribute to the Court bringing with him examples of the rug weavers art of Northwest China. The rugs were so popular at the Court that the priest set up a weaving school outside the East Gate of the city of Peking, and so taught the art of weaving to the people. It is from the teachings of this Llama priest that the modern Chinese rug has sprung.
In 1924 W. A. B. Nichols of Tientsin, North China, introduced the Super Chinese Rug which has become world famous. It is known in every market as the most durable and beautiful product of the modern Chinese weavers art and adorns the homes of people all over the earth.
There are five major departments to be considered in the manufacture of a Super Rug, namely:
Materials (Wool, Woolen Yarn, warp and Weft)
Dyes and Dyeing
Color and Design
To obtain perfect results all these things must be of the highest quality and coordinated under one management. A Nichols Super Rug is entirely a Nichols product. It is transformed from raw wool into a beautiful floor covering within the confines of our own factories and when we say our own factories we mean that we own the buildings, own the looms, own every tool and every rice bowl that is used in them. We do not "farm" out our yarn to be made into rugs by others - we do it all from beginning to end.
Visitors are always welcome to our plants so let us pretend that you have taken a trip halfway round the world and landed in Tientsin and dropped in to call upon us. We will take you on a tour of our factories and show you each phase of rug making separately in order that you may have a clearer understanding of just how it is all accomplished.
Wool, of course, is the largest component part of a rug, accounting for about 80% of its weight, therefore it is of the utmost importance to the fabric. All the wool that goes into a Nichols Rug is first carefully selected for length and strength of staple-only live resilient wool being considered suitable. Next it is thoroughly scoured with soap and warm water to remove dirt and foreign matter. This is very important because wool that has not been properly scoured will smell very sheepy for years after. Next the clean wool is sorted again and all the short pieces taken out, also the black and brown is eliminated and only pure white fleecy wool goes to the spinning mill. Here it is spun into a uniform woolen yarn by the Mule system of spinning and this white yarn in the grease goes to the dyer.
The dyeing department is one of the greatest importance. Only the best foreign dyes are used and these are applied to the yarn by the fastest known process for dyeing wool. The yarn must first be washed to remove the spinning oil otherwise it will not dye even and streaks show up in the carpets.
We have over eight hundred different colors and tones of colors in our collection and still are always developing new ones. Every one of these colors is guaranteed to be fast to light and washing.
Dyed in the Wool
All our indigo blues are dyed in the wool to insure uniform shades. We have twelve tones of indigo blue running from light to very dark.
This is China's national color and used a great deal in Chinese rugs and are to be found in most antique carpets.
Among the ancient traditional designs the dragon occupies the foremost position. It is symbolic of royalty and ranks first on all carpets, embroideries, bronzes, porcelains and palace buildings.
The eight immortal Genii of Taoism, believed to have been disciples of Lao-Tzu, have passed on their deified attributes as motifs for designs. The phoenix is also very important. As a messenger of the eight Genii it is the medium of intercourse between them and living beings. Its appearance heralds good times and happy events.
India has contributed most of all to the designs of Chinese rugs through Buddhism. The designs of Chinese carpets are all older than carpet weaving itself because they are derived from those used in silk weaving. These in turn have the same origin as the paintings found on old Chinese pottery. A wealth of designs which have been utilized for carpets are found in old manuscripts and on painted and carved walls of ancient temples. They have been closely related to the legends and the various religions of the Chinese people. Thanks to the tenacity with which the Chinese cling to all that is ancient we still find these old designs being woven lending to the Chinese carpets a very special charm not only on account of their great antiquity of design but also on account of their peculiarity and unique characteristics retained through centuries and making of each carpet a surviving evidence of an historical past.
The continuous development of carpet designs owes its loveliest inspirations to the trees and flowers of China. Natural flowers are always realistically reproduced and are seldom so conventionalized as the design on Persian carpets so that every species of flower is recognizable at sight. The peach blossom, symbol of the spring and the
blossom of the fruit of life; the lotus flower, emblem of the summer; the chrysanthemum, emblem of the autumn; the narcissus, emblem of the winter; the plum blossom; symbol of beauty; the orchid, valued for its fragrance; the bamboo, emblem of longevity and enduring bloom; the peony, flower of wealth and respectability. All these are the flowers which are used most often and to great advantage. Neoclassic designs are the very latest influence in Chinese rug styles taking as they do the old classic patterns and working them up in colors of today. Also bringing out the design by beveling all around it, producing a very beautiful molded effect.
Much has been said and written regarding the value and beauty of antique rugs but it is a recognized fact that people of good taste and refinement today prefer modern rugs and this choice comes from the fact that in modern rugs one can achieve a more artistic interior----one more suited to the individual and in perfect harmony with their surroundings. There is no rug that lends itself to this more than the Chinese. Too much cannot be said about the beauty and interpretation of Nichols designs, for into these rugs is woven the culture, beauty and heritage of China. The designs have been gleaned from old palace rugs, porcelains, pottery, temple decorations and bronzes, the old containing a mixture of the new thus modernizing the design and making the rug a thing of beauty for the western home. We maintain a staff of skilled artists who are always on the alert for something new and who combine the best elements of the Western and Chinese designs into a harmoniously blended whole.
We are also pleased to execute the ideas of our customers in weaving designs submitted by them or in working up designs to meet their individual requirements as to type or color. Having selected a design and color scheme and with the yarn all dyed accordingly, we now enter the weaving room. Assuming the carpet is to be made in the popular 9xI2 size we find the loom that has been allocated for this order and the four weavers who will weave the rug (one weaver usually works a section 2 1/2 feet wide).
These four weavers now start stringing the warp. This is done by carrying a strong cotton cord around the loom and back again, looping it over a steel or bamboo rod at the bottom, thereby making one continuous warp for the whole rug. The warp cord itself must be very strong and free from knots. Only the best knotless warp is used in Nichols Rugs.
After the warp has been strung the upper and lower beams of the loom are spread apart by a powerful jack and wedged in that position.
Next the paper loom drawing which is the actual size of the design to be made is placed behind the warp and weavers trace the pattern on the warp itself with red ink. (If this ink is not properly made and applied it often discolors light ugs when they are washed at some future date.)
The design having been transferred to the warp the weavers now start the rug by making a webbing of cotton about one inch wide at the bottom. This is not only to form part of the fringe but also to enable the yarn to be pounded down tight as the weaving progresses.
The weavers then start putting in a row of woolen yarn by twisting it around the two warp cords forming a figure eight, the outside loop of which is chopped off leaving the two ends sticking out, creating the pile of the rug. The warp cords are separated by a harness that goes around each one and is fastened to a stick that is behind the weaver's head. This he reaches up and pulls after every line of knots has been tied and thus crosses the warp cords and pinches the woolen yarn in between them.
A line of cotton weft threads is then inserted between the crossed warp cords above the woolen yarn and the warp is crossed again. These are all beaten down together with an iron fork. Another line of woolen knots are tied and the same operation is repeated over and over again. The weft threads are not carried all the way across the rug but are short lengths and taken from one weaver to another, overlapping where they meet by a few lengths of warp. Each weaver ties about 8,000 knots a day, completing about one square foot of the rug's surface. Each knot is chopped off when it is tied about 1/8 of an inch longer than the height of pile required and then this extra length is cut off with scissors. After a day's weaving has been finished the surface is trimmed up again with wider scissors until it is perfectly even.
A 9x12 rug is usually woven about four feet and then the loom beams are loosened and the whole warp is shifted down and around the back of the loom. The loom is tightened up again and weaving resumed. This operation is repeated until the rug is completed. Before the rug is shifted the design must be cut all around the edge to make it stand out from the background. This is a distinctive feature in Chinese rugs. No other Oriental rug has ever had this carved effect. When the rug is finished it is cut down from the loom and the weavers must spend a day or two fixing and trimming it up after which it is carefully examined by expert inspectors and if found satisfactory the weavers are paid for their work and start on another rug.
It takes four weavers about one month to weave a9x12 rug. Of course, the more intricate the design the longer it takes to weave. The weavers are paid extra for hard designs.
There are no carpet weavers in China superior to those employed by us. They are carefully selected and trained. They work in the cleanest and most modern factories in China where they are well fed and housed and where medical attention is always available. They come from the Northern provinceswhich have always been the home of the finest weavers. We employ no child labor or apprentices. Because of their ideal working conditions happier workmen cannot be found, and knot by knot their deft fingers create the most beautiful carpets in the market because it is the innermost desire of these weavers, influenced by tradition, folklore and superstition, to produce a product which cannot be surpassed.
"A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever," sang Keats, and this can truly be said of a Nichols Chinese Rug, for it creates joy in the heart of its owner and its beauty spreads sunshine wherever it may be. One can read the glory and culture of China's imperial past when studying the rare old designs of these rugs, for China in sign and symbol has been woven into them.
This is a process that puts a silky sheen on the surface of the rug and makes it soft and pliable. It takes out of the rug all the surplus wool fibres that would otherwise come out in six months of sweeping and it polishes the tip of each individual wool tuft so that dirt and dust will not stick to them, making a washed rug much easier to keep clean than an unwashed rug. People often remark that they have been told the washing takes out half the life of a rug. This is not a fact. The washing process does reduce the height of the pile a small fraction of an inch but Nichols Rugs are made with a higher pile when they are woven to compensate for this loss. Here are some of the important points to remember when considering the relative merits of a washed rug and an unwashed rug. The chemical washing is a severe process-there is no doubt about that. It brings out all the latent defects in any rug. Therefore when you see a washed rug you see just what you are going to get for your money. You can feel it and judge for yourself the life that is left in it. You can see if it has faded.
If it has not faded in the washing it will never fade. It has been saturated with water two or three times, therefore it is washable and you can wash a Nichols Rug as many times as you'd like. It is disinfected by the chemicals and safe to be laid down in your home. It contains no uncertainties. On the other hand unwashed rugs of any kind contain all the uncertainties we have just mentioned and a lot more. Some of the Persian rugs, when they are washed, lose nearly all their color and have to be painted with dyes in the New York washing plants. It is a common practice to change the entire color scheme of there rugs to meet the current demand. No such thing can be done with Nichols Rugs. Their colors are FAST and are only softened and mellowed in the washing. Some people also say the sheen does not last. This is not true. If you could keep your rug in a glass case the sheen would last indefinitely, but dust and dirt dulls it and then a washing with soap-and water will restore to your rug the original beautiful lustre. We have proven this statement a thousand times by washing customers rugs purchased from us years before and they have never failed to turn out as lovely as the day they were bought. Experience has taught us that chemical washing is also a protection against moths. Washed rugs are not susceptible to the ravages of this insect nearly as much as unwashed rugs. We have actually had cases of our washed rugs in storage for over two years without any protective material such as napthalene and the rugs opened up in perfect condition. This is important when it is considered that many of our customers buy their rugs "in bond" and may be obliged to leave them packed for a much longer period than anticipated. We unhesitatingly recommend the chemical washing process and all Nichols Rugs are so treated unless we are specifically instructed to the contrary.
Care of Rugs
Because of the beautiful clean condition in which you find your Nichols Rug when it is delivered to you, its care is reduced many fold and the only necessary attention for many years is merely that of routine house cleaning which is done with either a broom or a vacuum cleaner. You do not need to be afraid to use even the strongest vacuum cleaner on a Nichols Rug. When the fringes are soiled they may be cleaned with dry cornmeal by brushing the cornmeal vigorously in and out of the fringe; if soiled sufficiently, scrub the fringe with soap and water.
Nichols rugs may be washed with soap and water or, if only the surface is soiled, use a small portion of alcohol or ammonia in tepid water and go over the rug with this mixture. Most stains can be removed with gasoline or soap and water. It is better to dry the rugs on a flat surface rather than hang them on a line. Of course, all large cities have rug cleaning establishments and we recommend any reliable firm of this kind for a thorough cleaning; they cannot damage a Nichols Rug in the ordinary course of any cleaning process. Our New York Office will be glad to give you advice on this subject if you consult them
In Peking we have converted the former palace of a Manchu Prince into a weaving establishment containing fifty looms. The Old Audience Hall, seventy.five feet long, serves as our rug showroom. The original living quarters of the Prince's familv now house our two hundred weavers. This "Palace Factory" is now one of the sights of the city and visited by thousands of tourists every year. Should you be fortunate enough to ever spend a few days in Peking you are cordially invited to come and go through this unique place from a purely sightseeing point of view. It is not necessary to buy a rug - just see them made in a Palace and you will agree they are "Fit for a King."