Vintage Tibetan Rug Collection
Practiced centuries ago by Tibetan rug weavers using lustrous Highland sheep wool (changpel), the art of Tibetan rug making continues to amaze and delight historians, interior decorators and rug enthusiasts. Incorporating specialized rug-making skills with a vivid palette consisting of warm golds, rust reds, deep blues, rich oranges and earthy browns, vintage Tibetan rugs were originally crafted to be used as yak and horse saddle rugs, wall hangings, floor coverings and seating carpets called khadens.
In addition to brilliant colors favored by monks, high lamas and royalty, carpets in our Tibetan rug collection display a breathtaking variety of flowers including lotuses, chrysanthemums and other flora associated with Buddhist ideology. In the early 20th century, a variety of synthetic dyes allowed Tibetan rug weavers to introduce new, more intricate designs into their carpets such as cloud, dragon, phoenix and Chinese-influenced motifs.
Today, modern Tibetan rugs mostly woven in Nepal present similar weaving techniques as those used by weavers hundreds of years ago. Hand-knotted Tibetan carpets are made with dyed wool, silk yams and the combination of these two fibers interwoven lengthwise with cut pile and loop weaves. Newer Tibetan rugs may also incorporate banana silk, nettle and hemp materials.
More About Vintage Tibetan Rugs
Oriental rug collectors find it fascinating that most rugs found in vintage Tibetan rug collections use a differing type of knotting method than techniques commonly employed in other areas of the world. Dyes used in vintage Tibetan rugs are taken from plants growing in elevated Tibetan plateaus offering yellow, red, brown, gray and blue coloring.
In addition to displaying floral and geometric motifs, carpets in a Tibetan rug collection may be decorated with a gau design. Gaus are metallic Tibetan Buddhist prayer boxes or amulet containers traditionally worn as jewelry. They could be compared to African mojo bags or charm vials worn by South American Indians. Gau motifs seen in vintage Tibetan rugs may be decorated with semiprecious stones or pieces of coral.
Tibetan tiger rugs are highly prized Oriental rugs featuring stylized, fire-breathing dragons and mythical snow tigers roaming under beautifully realized clouds, ethereal Tantric Buddhist motifs and elegant lotus blossoms. Designs seen in Tibetan tiger rugs may be traced back to ancient India yoga practitioners called yogins, who knelt on genuine tiger skins to meditate and pray. Revered as a symbol of tremendous power, Tibetan tiger rugs were extremely popular with Tibetan kings, high lamas and tribal chiefs.
Modern History of Vintage Tibetan Rugs
When the Chinese invaded Tibet mor e than 50 years ago and forced millions of Tibetans to migrate over the Himalayan Mountains, many displaced Tibetans came to rest in the Kathmandu Valley. Under the support and direction of the Swiss government, Tibetans established a rug-weaving cottage industry based on ancient techniques and traditions. Initially comprised of small rugs woven specifically for Nepal tourists, this industry grew rapidly during the 1970s when German tourists discovered the exotic beauty of Tibetan rugs and began purchasing them in large quantities. A decade later, Tibetan rug production increased to the point where it became a leading industry in Tibet.
Vintage Tibetan rug collectors emphasize the fact that the Chinese invasion of Tibet and ensuing nationalization of the carpet-making industry can be attributed solely to Tibetan refugees settling in Nepal. Tibetan rugs made in India or other countries tend to use lesser-quality wool and are considered inferior to the Tibetan rugs created by Nepal rug weavers.
Discover the fascinating world of Tibetan rugs by viewing Esmaili’s vintage Tibetan rugs collection online or calling 214-651-7847.