Oriental rugs are loved around the world for their beauty and high level of craftsmanship. It is known that people in the Middle East and parts of Asia were making rugs and carpets at least as far back as 2,000 B.C, and maybe as far back as 4,000 B.C. The techniques and material that they used to weave the pile seem to have been very similar to what Oriental rug weavers use today.
Few ancient and handmade products survived the industrial revolution as well as Oriental rugs and carpets did. It is an extraordinary attestation to the beauty and quality of these rugs that traditional techniques and craftsmanship have remained highly competitive.
Historical evidence suggests that rugs and carpets were imported from the East and distributed throughout Europe as far back as the 11th century. For example, old European paintings have been found to have Oriental rugs depicted in them. For a very long time, however, this luxury was reserved for royalty and very wealthy people. Very few other households were using Oriental rugs, or any rug whatsoever, before the 18th century.
In the 18th and 19th centuries many countries in Europe were making their own handmade rugs and carpets, and the import of Eastern rugs and carpets was still reserved for the wealthy. With the 20th century, however, came modern means of transportation and shipping. The export of rugs and carpets from the Orient to the West now became fairly inexpensive and Western countries could no longer compete with the high quality and low labor cost of Eastern rugs and carpets. The only way for Western countries to be successful in their local market was by increasing the narrowing price gap. Knowing they could not match the Oriental rug and carpet manufacturers in terms of quality, they focused on their strengths, which meant having machines, not people, make rugs in great numbers. Following World War II both Europe and North America saw significant development of the machine-made rug industry. As a result, handmade rugs and carpets produced in Europe or North America are extremely rare today.
With all the technological sophistication and financial resources available to Western countries, it is still the rug artisans of the Middle-East with their ancient weaving techniques and simple tools that reign supreme in the rug and carpet industry of today.
Every time that you will see your oriental rugs decorating your homes, you will recall this history of mankind in producing a work of art that made by the skillful hands of people who have been building quality decorations for centuries.
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