Guide to Antique Chinese Rugs & Carpets
Overview of Chinese Rugs
Created to be symbolic, antique Chinese rugs frequently have Buddhist or Taoist images, such as lotus flowers, clouds, and dragons, present in their design. Traditional colors used in these carpets include black, blue, red, beige, and yellow. The purpose of Chinese rugs goes far beyond aesthetics. They're meant to give insight into the era of highly artistic craftsmanship that many modern rugs lack.
Styles & Influences
Antique Chinese rugs can be distinguished by the use of certain patterns, colors, and materials. For example, the Khotan rug design is known for ornate borders, striking medallions, and prominent patterns. Among the oldest of the ancient Chinese styles are Ningsia rugs. These have understated and formal patterns with subdued colors such as soft yellows and blues. Finally, Persian rugs are characterized by their thickness and durability and include more art deco and asymmetrical patterning.
Size & Shape
Traditional oriental or ancient Chinese rugs are common in places of worship. These ceremonious pieces may be used as decorative altar runners or as directional prayer rugs. Because of their varied use and symbolism, they are often found in many shapes and sizes. They may be made to cover entire rooms, while others are smaller and strictly ornamental.
Construction & Materials
Hand woven textiles, like silk, wool, or cotton, make up antique Chinese rugs. The technique used to create them is a series of hand knots done on a loom. The time and artistry that goes into these rugs is simply amazing. One Chinese rug could take months or even years to create. In addition to being hand woven, Chinese carpets use natural and vegetable dyes made from plants such as indigo, saffron, and madder. However, chrome and chemical dyes can be used in more modern versions of the rugs.Examples:
Chinese Baotou Saddle Cover, end 19th century
Probably Baotou end 19th century,
5ft. x 3ft. 1.52m. x 0.91m
Chinese weavings with 'tiger skin' patterns are thought to have been made primarily for the Mongolian market
Suiyuan Chinese Rug, late 19th century
Late 19th century
5ft.10in. x 3ft. 1.78m. x 0. 91m
Baotou-Suiyuan Chinese Rug circa 1920
Chinese silk rug
Baotou-Suiyuan about 1920
8ft. x 5ft. 2.44m. x 1. 52m
Suiyuan Chinese rug, circa 1930
Two Chinese rugs, one with pink lattice
Suiyuan about 1900, the other Tianjin about 1930
5ft.10in. x 3ft.5in. 1.78m. x 1.04m. and 5ft.11in. x 3ft. 1.80m. x 0.91m.
Chinese rug, probably Beijing circa 1930
Chinese rug, probably Beijing about 1930
7ft. x 4ft.1in. 2.13m. x 1.25m
Beijing Chinese rugs, mid 20th century
Three Chinese rug, Beijing mid 20th century
Demi-lune 2ft. x 4ft. 0.61m. x 1.22m.,
Landscape pictorial, 2ft.6in. x 6ft.1in. 0.76m. x 1. 86m.
Circular diam. 4ft.2in. 1.27m.
Chinese Art Deco Carpet circa 1930
Dark saffron field with sparse floral sprigs within a midnight blue flowering vase border
Approximately 13ft. 4in. x 9ft. 10in.
Chinese Rug 1st Quarter 20th C.
First Quarter 20th Century,
Having a polychrome striated design overall within a solid indigo border
Approximately 5ft. 9in. x 3ft. (175cm. x 91cm.)
East Turkestan Carpet Early 20th C.
Early 20th Century,
The pale celadon green field with a pomegranate design overall within multiple geometric borders
Approximately 12ft. 10in. x 6ft. 7in. (391cm. x 201cm.)
Antique Kansu Carpet C. 1800
oxidized browns, minor foldwear, rewoven area in border,
Warp: Cotton, Z7S, natural ivory
Weft: Cotton, Z4S, 2-3 shoots, natural ivory or pale indigo
Pile: Wool, Z2S, asymmetrical knot open to the left
Density: 7-8 horizontal, 8-9 vertical
Sides: 1 cord of 2 warps wrapped in madder wool
Ends: warp fringes
Colors: Ivory, madder, pale madder, saffron, blue-green, pale blue, blue, walnut.
Kansu Carpet C. 1800
oxidized browns, foldwear, small reweaves, some selvages fraying,
Warp: Cotton, Z5S, natural ivory
Weft: Cotton, Z, 4 shoots, natural ivory
Pile: Wool, asymmetrical knot open to the left
Density: 8 horizontal, 8 vertical
Sides: 1 cord of 3 warps overcast in red wool
Ends: warp fringes
Colors: madder red, salmon, blue-green, deep blue, medium blue, yellow, ivory, walnut.
Kashgar Mat (Chinese Rug) C. 1800
Approximately 3ft. 1in. by 2ft. 11in. (0.94 by 0.89m.)
circa 1800 original end finishes, moth damage mainly on reverse, minor repiling, overcast sides, minute hole
Antique Khotan rug early 19th C.
A Khotan rug, East Turkestan
Early 19th century
Remnants of one kilim end, losses to ends, foldwear, moth damage, old repiling, holes, overcast and fraying sides
Approximately 8 ft. 2 in. by 4 ft. (2.49 by 1.22 m.)
Antique Khotan rug early 19th C.
Early 19th century remnants of lower original end finishes, partial end guard borders, selvages fraying, two reweaves, holes
Approximately 8ft. 1in. by 3ft. 8in. (2.46 by 1.12m.)
Antique Khotan carpet c. 1900
A Khotan carpet, East Turkestan, circa 1900
430 by 218cm., 14ft. 1in. by 7ft. 2in.
Antique Khotan rug C.
A Khotan rug, East Turkestan, circa 1900
194 by 122cm., 6ft. 4in. by 4ft.
Hetian (Khotan) rugs C. 1930
Hetian (Khotan) rug
Xinjiang (East Turkestan), about 1930
7ft. 11in. x 4ft.9in. 2.41m. x 1.45m.
Slight even wear overall, slight moth damage down right side
Ming 14th-17th century silk and metal wrapped parchment on a silk ground
A ming brocade fragment, china,
Approximately 2ft. 1in. by 2ft. (0.63 by 0.61m.)
14th-17th century silk and metal wrapped parchment on a silk ground, original selvages, fragmentary on ends, oxidized metal, stains, holes.
Antique Kangxi Qianlong Ninghsia carpet Qing dynasty, 18th C.
Qing dynasty, 18th century, reduced in width
Warp: Cotton, undyed, Z4S
Weft: Cotton, undyed, Z spun, 2-3 shoots
Pile: Wool, asymmetrical knot open to the left
Selvedges: 2 bunches of 2 warps, wrapped undyed cotton
Ends: warp fringes partially extant
Colours: Camel, saffron, light saffron, ivory, medium indigo, powder-blue, grey-green
Measurments: 357 by 234cm., 11ft. 9in. by 7ft. 8in.
Antique Ninghsia runner early 19th C.
Early 19th century original end finishes, partially oxidized light browns, minor moth damage.
Approximately 14ft. 9in. by 2ft. 3in. (4.50 by 0.69m.)
Antique Ninghsia Rug late 19th C.
A Ningshia carpet, North China, late 19th century
357 by 282cm., 11ft. 9in. by 9ft. 3in.
Antique Ningxia Chinese rug, late 19th C.
Ningxia late 19th century,
5ft.5in. x 2ft.7in. 1.65m. x 0.79m.
Antique Ninghsia Rug first quarter 20th C.
First quarter 20th century original end finishes, minor losses to one end, foldwear, stains.
Approximately 6ft. 6in. by 6ft. 6in. (1.98 by 1.98m.)
Samarkand Carpet C. 1910 Doris Leslie Blau Sale Sotheby's lot 110
Circa 1910 original end finishes, overcast sides
Approximately 8ft. 6in. by 4ft. 1in. (2.59 by 1.24m.)
Doris Leslie Blau Samarkand Carpet 1st quarter 20th C.
First quarter 20th century overcast sides, minor repiling
Approximately 17ft. 8in. by 9ft. 4in. (5.38 by 2.84m.)
Tianjin Chinese rug, 19th C.
Tianjin late 19th century,
5ft.11in. x 3ft.2in. 1.80m. x 0.97m.
Tianjin Chinese rug C. 1930
Tianjin about 1930
5ft. x 2ft.6in. 1.52m. x 0.76m. a small Chinese round mat, probably Ningxia about 1920, diam. 2ft.6in. 0.76m.
Tianjin Chinese rug, C. 1930
Tianjin about 1930,
5ft.11in. x 3ft. 1. 80m. x 0.91m.
One with slight moth damage and staining
Antique 19th Century Tibetan Rug
The dark wool is indigo light and dark blue in a technique we call ton sur ton. This is common in Tibetan, Central Asian, and Mughal weaving. Tibetan weaving is very much a separate category distinctively different than the main body of oriental rugs. Instead of the typical hand tied knots they loop the pile ply around the structure and a rod and then they cut the pile to release the rod.
The piece still retains the red cloth that it had originally (a sign of authenticity in better pieces). This piece was originally backed.
62 inches. by 26 1/2 inches.Structure: appears to be typical Tibetan weave of which I know little and understand less.
Yarn Spin: Z
Warp: 2 ply wool, white.
Weft: 2 singles of thick yarn of fine wool with little twist.
Ends: 3/4 inch plainweave.
Provenance: From the collection of an Internationally Known Expert and Connoisseur who wishes to remain anonymous.
Yarkand Carpet C. 1800
Circa 1800 remnants of original lower flatwoven end, overcast sides, slits, stains, moth damage, minor repiling and tinting, small reweaves,
The true understanding of color and proportions displayed in this carpet make a potent visual statement. The design incorporates motifs that recall Chinese decorative arts, such as the fretwork spandrels and lotus blossoms within the medallions. Here, these are worked on an open red ground that is contained by a broad and arresting border, featuring a stunning variegated sea green. Striking and powerful as this carpet is, its design also appears to be imbued with ancient Buddhist symbolism. The three medallions may reflect the placement of statues of Buddha and two flanking Bodhisattvas on the altars of temples in a tradition going back 2000 years (see Bidder, Hans, Carpets from Eastern Turkestan, Tübingen, 1979, p. 53-6.) The red field signifies the Sun and the realm of the senses, Samsara. The blue coloring of the medallions signifies the spiritual as well as the night, and their roundness, (known by their weavers as "Ay Güls,") is representative of the Moon (Bidder, H., ibid., p. 53-4.). All of this is here enclosed within a dramatic reciprocal trefoil border of equally old tradition and religious significance. This design can be interpreted as a stylized cloud pattern as well as archaic ram's horns; the cloud being a celestial sign and the horns a reference to the proximity of earth to the powers of darkness (Bidder, H., op.cit., p. 64). Here, the composition is rendered in saturated and contrasting colors, creating a visual tour de force that mirrors its spiritual importance. This carpet appears to be one of around six known with this design and coloring.
Silk Yarkand Carpet early 19th C.
Early 19th century oxidized light browns, minor repiling, reweaves, foldwear, linen backed.
Approximately 9ft. 7in. by 5ft. 9in. (2.92 by 1.75m.)