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Identifying Chinese Rugs, Washing Rugs

Simon Woodard

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If you looked at the care label of most modern rugs bought at your local textile store you would probably see the tagline “Made in China” - to be clear, these are not the rugs that this article is addressing. This article is about original rugs produced by China with Chinese weaving methods and materials.

As is with most rugs these days, they just aren’t produced in the same way anymore - with most rugs heading down the road of mass production and consumerism design with western themes of ‘modernisation’. This is a real shame when the rugs once produced were imbued with a rich cultural heritage. Chinese rugs were no different.

You can see the change after China became a republic nation in 1912 ending the Ming dynasty. Even though the last emperor of the Ming dynasty had died in the 17th century the culture lived on, this culture could be seen in many aspects of Chinese life including their rugs.

Thus there is a noticeable change in the style of rugs post 1910, when they took on a more ‘Art Deco’ style to cater more for a western market. Before the 20th century China just did not export their rugs like they did with many other good they produced. This reserved approach to their rug trading helped keep the authenticity of their rugs alive till the ‘Art Deco’ time period.

The traditional rugs were roughly made, it wasn’t that the Chinese didn’t care about quality, they simply considered the beauty and meaning behind the rug superseded the quality. This approach created rugs that were rich in history, culture and folklore.

The designs used on the Chinese rugs were much different to that of other popular rug producers. Where Persian and Oriental rugs were designed with motifs, the Chinese designed with pictorial elements like animals, trees, clouds and especially with dragons.

Chinese rugs also used colours synonymous with many of their other textiles, woven with blue, gold and ivory threads. These colours changed to more vibrant and bright colours post 1910 with the shift to modernisation and western appeal.

There is a noticeable difference between antique Chinese rugs, their modern counterparts and the rug styles of other nations in the same time period. This makes Chinese rugs very collectible and highly sought after by rug collectors and enthusiasts. These rugs are appreciated for their uniqueness as well as the way they illustrate a world that was far removed from today in terms of calm and simplicity.

Taking care of these rugs is paramount in retaining the cultural heritage that they contain. Yet care of them is similar to the other styles of antique rugs. Having an expert in the field of rug washing is advised in caring for these artistic pieces. Some experienced cleaners combine the tried and tested rug cleaning techniques that have been used for centuries with modern tools and products to work with the rug and ensure its taken care of.

If you are living in Sydney, Australia you can get in contact with Rug Cleaning Eastern Suburbs for exceptional care of your rug.


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