Antique rugs were made centuries ago by people who were mostly villagers tending their sheep, their cattle, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens. The concepts of the designs of antique rugs originated by people who lived in mountain villages where they experienced the natural beauty of their terrain. Chief among their assets was their surroundings: the blue skies, majestic trees, running streams and verdant vegetation. They were at peace: they had nature and stress was minimal, money was minimal, conflict and war was minimal. And those people also had the remarkable ability to design and weave carpets.
Their most valuable possession was their brain. Even though they could not read or write and their intellect may have been dormant, they had a sizzling creative right side of the brain fully demonstrated in the products they created. These weavers created a form of art that is primitive, intuitive and, like a fine wine, alive and 100 years hence we are looking at this work of art – still absorbed by its energy and beauty. For centuries, this creative output has been giving people who are exposed to it the pleasure, the admiration and a direct connection to those villages and to those villagers who created it. Kudos to them.
The concepts for the designs of antique rugs originated with people who lived in villages in the mountains and who, therefore, had at their disposal the natural beauty of their terrain. Summer brought the flower blooms and the tree blossoms and all the beauty of nature, so they tried to capture some of this beauty by translating it into the art of floral motifs that they could keep inside their homes all year round. For example, following the natural observation that a flower garden is completed with a surrounding border, you will often find a distinct continuous border surrounding the field of the carpet design. The flower field at the center of the carpet may have a medallion with arches to create a central point. This design imitates the fact that people gathering in a room usually stand or sit in a circular position and their movement on the carpet with a circular design will not conflict with the motifs on the carpet.
Another basic but highly inspired design is geometric curves, and one of the most adored of these designs is called the Heriz design. The Heriz design projects walls bordering a courtyard with guarded stairways going down to the courtyard and a prominent center medallion with arches, creating a sense of being inside an open palace. The geometry of Heriz, although not precise, conveys the primitive inspirational feature that one is looking at the weaver and his muse: his wife. And even though it’s 100 years old, one can still feel the human vibration emanating from it, and that is its charm. These designs and colors, whether floral or geometric, are so impressive and inspirational that people frequently hand down these carpets from one generation to the the next.
The fact that some of these carpets may have 40 or 50 colors overwhelms the ordinary observer. Despite the pleasing distributions and good balance, the complexity of design and number of colors that are woven into this art form can be too much for the typical human mind to absorb and store. Consequently, once a customer takes leave from a particular scene, he or she will be hard pressed to remember what was seen other than to say it was beautifully impressive.
Oriental carpets were made in Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, India and China and first brought to the United States in the 18th century. When they were new, the aging process consisted of exposure to light and normal wear. Over the years they obtained a highly-valued patina, not unlike that of antique furniture. The culture of the rug weaver is so precious that nothing in the art world compares to it. You can look at and sit with a century-old carpet and still be greeted with the warm energy of its creators and feel the vibration of the human creativity that was put into it.
When I was twenty years old, I was exposed to old Persian rugs in New Haven for the first time and I quickly became fascinated with the primitive weavers who produced such complex artistry with their creative minds. And to this day, I am still fascinated and passionate about antique rugs and these historic weavers. The magic of antique rugs is the human effect: A unique investment in engineering, poetry, color and design and a part of the weaver’s heart and soul. These century-old investments still reverberate with energy and charm today. The number of antique rugs at the art level cannot increase, therefore their value is a measure of both availability and joy.
In today’s world where talent rules supreme, it is assumed one would want to live surrounded by such talent in his or her home. An antique carpet is the keystone in a creative and flourishing home because its welcoming features give one the opportunity to read them, and to have a special function as foundation under one’s feet. This environment is also best for growing children; to be surrounded by a world of vibrant creativity in their own home that makes for a better life. The best scenario in today’s culture, whether it is in the United States or in Europe, is the home rich and satisfying on an art level. These rugs represent tribal art, primitive art and offer a transference of creative energy and beauty that will reach up to greet you when you walk into your home. Oh, antique rugs – how great thou art!