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The history of carpets

The history of carpets

The history of carpets


Carpets, this object with a long history, have experienced the influence of history and culture and the hands of the wise people, which have been cleaned for thousands of years and still shine with a unique light. The historical birthplaces of carpets in the world are mainly China, Persia, Egypt and India. The origin of Chinese carpets is recorded in writing about 2,000 years ago, and there are physical evidence of about 3,000 years of history.


The history of carpets


History of carpet development


The development of carpets in China


Carpets, this object with a long history, have experienced the influence of history and culture and the hands of the wise people, which have been cleaned for thousands of years and still shine with a unique light.


The historical birthplaces of carpets in the world are mainly China, Persia, Egypt and India. The origin of Chinese carpets is recorded in writing about 2,000 years ago, and there are physical evidence of about 3,000 years of history.


Carpets, also known as lichens, are used for woven fabrics laid on the floor. Chinese carpets originated from nomadic tribes in the ethnic minority areas of northwest China. Fragments of ancient carpets unearthed in 1959 from Minfeng County, Hotan Region, are the best proof of this. Its weaving method is basically similar to the current local folk carpet weaving process, and the knot buckle adopts a delicate horseshoe buckle (Turkish knot method), and the longitude and weft density is 330, which is only about 30 less than the current Hetian carpet warp and weft density of 360. In July 1978, Chinese archaeologists found carpet fragments from about 3,000 years ago in the Nanzhao, Henan, and Hotan regions of Xinjiang, respectively. Unfortunately, our ancestors have not left a document of carpet weaving methods.


As early as 2,000 years ago, in order to adapt to the needs of nomadic life, the local ethnic minorities used the rich wool twist yarn to weave colorful kneeling mats, tapestries and carpets, which may be the earliest rudimentary carpets. Some studies have pointed out that carpet technology has been continuously extended from Xinjiang along Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Yulin to Inner Mongolia, successively entering Beijing, Tianjin and Shandong regions, and finally intertwined with the Chinese civilization of the Central Plains with the ancient carpet weaving art.


There have been records related to carpets in the Book of Poetry and the Ancient Music House. Living history tells us that carpets were originally made by ancestors to keep out the cold. During the Qin and Han dynasties, the nomadic people outside the Cyprus began to weave and use carpets as a cold object. During the Western Han Dynasty, there were already carpets with relatively fine workmanship. With emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty eliminating the Xiongnu, a trade route to West Asia and Europe, the Silk Road, was opened. The Silk Roads not only carried silk, carpets, porcelain, tea and spices, but also promoted the exchange and spread of Eastern and Western cultures. The Chinese carpet weaving process thus followed The Silk Road of China through Central Asia to the Middle East and Europe, and also gave Chinese a glimpse of Persian carpets representing Persian civilization. In the Persian carpet pattern, many patterns identical to the Chinese carpet pattern are still preserved today. It is also believed that the pattern of Persian carpets originated in China, but was carefully modified in the hands of Persian designers and added Persian colors, thus becoming a pattern with a Middle Eastern style. Since the Western Han Dynasty, these two ancient civilizations have continuously learned, exchanged and learned from each other, and the traditional Chinese patterns and traditional Persian patterns and weaving techniques have been integrated with each other for a long time, thus achieving an elegant and delicate carpet art.


Over time, carpets entered the court from the people and became an important part of court decoration. According to literature, from the Tang Dynasty onwards, with the development of agriculture, there were more and more varieties of carpets. Carpet weaving technology also entered Beijing, Tianjin and finally merged into the Central Plains from Xinjiang along Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi and other places, forming an ancient Chinese carpet art with fine workmanship, uniform color, excellent texture, unique national characteristics and regional style. Xuanzang's Records of the Western Regions of the Tang Dynasty recorded the prosperity of the local carpet industry more than a thousand years ago. The Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi once wrote in the "Red Thread Blanket": "The hall of incense is wide for more than ten zhang, the red thread is woven into a temple shop, the beauty embarks on the song and dance, and the embroidered shoes of the Luo socks are gone." And the value of the carpet based on the cold has also quietly changed, "the ground does not know that the cold people want to be warm, less to take people's clothes as lichens" This verse describes from the side that the function of the carpet has got rid of the original purpose of cold, and then began to evolve into a synonym for decoration, wealth and power. It has been recorded that the Emperor of the Tang Dynasty used carpets for diplomatic relations as gifts to the Japanese Empress, and carpets played an important role in "gifts".


In 1966, a cotton blanket was unearthed in Lanxi, Zhejiang Province, which is 2.51 meters long and 1.18 meters wide, with a plain textured tissue, flammed on both sides, and flat and thick. After identification, the material used in this cotton carpet is grass cotton fiber, which was woven in the Southern Song Dynasty. This is the earliest cotton blanket ever made. It can be seen that the carpet weaving process has reached a very high level at that time.


In 907, the Khitan Jinge iron horse stepped into the plains, Beijing became the capital of the Liao people, due to the needs of the court, carpets were also introduced to Beijing, but at that time the carpet was no longer a practical paving object for the people, but a royal exclusive palace art that symbolized power and rank.


By the Yuan Dynasty, the royal carpet laying had a stricter hierarchy. According to the Records of the Dayuan Felt Workers, in the second year (1298) of Emperor Chengzong's reign, the Ministry of Works was commissioned to weave carpets for the Imperial Palace at the Qingta Temple in Beijing, and had strict requirements for the size of the carpets, fuel, and the amount of wool used.


Carpet production in the Ming and Qing dynasties has reached a very exquisite point, especially carpets made for the court are extremely elaborate. In the Ming Dynasty, carpets were collected into Beijing as a tribute from northwest China and other places, and there were also special institutions for weaving for the imperial palace. With the development of social production at that time, carpets formed production bases in Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and so on. The carpet pattern integrates many factors such as court art, Buddhist art and folk culture and art, and often uses dragon and phoenix patterns, dragon patterns, and traditional auspicious patterns, borrowing harmonic shapes to express the pursuit of a better life. The production process and scale have also reached an unprecedented level, so that Chinese carpets are collected as precious works of art in many countries around the world. In the late Ming and early Qing dynasties of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, The chinese handmade carpet manufacturing process reached an unprecedented height, and the consumption was mostly in the court and temple. During this period, a large number of beautiful carpets were produced, and in many countries, Chinese carpets were collected as permanent works of art. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., the Royal Antirio Museum in Canada, and the Victoria Museum in London all have Chinese carpets. Once again, the function of carpets has changed significantly – collecting.


In the Qing Dynasty, Beijing carpets developed by leaps and bounds. According to the "Jiaqing Great QingHui Canon", in the first year of Yongzheng (1723), there were nine carpet weaving craftsmen in the Beijing Dyeing and Weaving Bureau who specially prepared carpets for the emperor, and in the tenth year of Xianfeng (1860), the Tibetan Dalai Lama of Tibet entered Beijing and brought a large number of Tibetan carpets to the Xianfeng Emperor, who was very fond of them, and gave some of the Tibetan carpets to the palace ministers, and allowed Tibetan artists who woven carpets to enter Beijing to pass on their arts.


In modern times, China's carpet industry has developed rapidly, mainly concentrated in Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong and other regions. Chinese carpets have also gradually begun to introduce foreign advanced technology and equipment, so that the production efficiency and output of carpets have increased rapidly, and China's carpet industry has begun to enter the market. However, while the rapid development of woven carpets, traditional handmade carpets still maintain a strong vitality and exude charming artistic charm. Carpet varieties are in full bloom, and patterns are endless. Since 1921, Tianjin has gradually become a carpet town, and China's first modern silk reeling factory was located in Tianjin. At this time, the finished woven carpet has been sold to Europe and the United States and other places. By the 1970s and 1980s, Tianjin had become an important export area for handmade carpets in China. Therefore, Tianjin is known as the hometown of carpets, and many carpet inspection institutions are still located in Tianjin.


The largest carpet in China is a 1250-kilogram carpet woven by the Urumqi Carpet Factory for the Xinjiang Hall of the Great Hall of the People in 1981, and is praised as the "King of Carpets". After China's reform and opening up, due to the needs of foreign trade exports, especially in recent years, The enhancement of China's national strength, the people live and work in peace and contentment, coastal and large and medium-sized cities to chase high-end classical decoration styles also have different degrees of need, therefore, China's handmade carpets have seen unprecedented development, the emergence of many handmade carpet centers, China's silk carpets, Xinjiang wool carpets, Tibetan wool carpets are among the representatives. At the same time, the once expensive and luxurious carpets have gradually entered the homes of ordinary people, becoming a good product for people to beautify the living environment and cultivate sentiments to decorate family rooms.


The development of carpets in other countries of the world


The history of carpets in countries around the world is also long. The traditional production areas of hand-grown fleece carpets in the world are mainly concentrated in East Asia, Central Asia and various countries at the junction of Europe and Asia. Before 3,000 AD, the inhabitants of the Nile Valley of North Africa woven linen carpets and decorated them with brightly colored cloth edges; From 1449 to 1323 BC, Egypt woven colorful jacquard carpets; In 400 BC, figure-of-eight knotted carpets appeared in Siberia.


Persian hand-woven carpets are a shining pearl of carpets in the world. Persian carpets, from the original nomadic handicraft and used to resist the cold of daily necessities, gradually came into being a wonderful and inherited art after more than 2,000 years of historical development, but also became an indispensable necessity for European royal and aristocratic families. In the 16th century, Persian carpets were famous in Europe for their fascinating patterns and colors. The 16th century was the golden age of hand-woven carpets in the East, and King Abbas of the Safavid dynasty of Persia raised the art of hand-woven carpet weaving to an unprecedented height. King Abbas moved his palace to the city of Isfahan, where he was very passionate about the art of hand-woven carpets and sent skilled weavers to Italy to study art, integrating European culture into Persian culture. Most of the famous fine hand-woven carpets preserved in European and North American museums were completed between 1586 and 1628 during his reign. Since then, the city of Isfahan has also become a holy place for the best Persian hand-woven carpets. The famous Shahabas carpet pattern is named after King Abbas in honor of his great contribution to Persian carpets. Since the 1720s, the British pioneered the Brussels carpet loom, the mechanism carpet came into being, and then further transformed into the famous Wilton loom and Axminster loom, these two looms have been used since then, should be regarded as the beginning of the woven carpet. By the 1940s, the British invented the tufting machine, which changed the traditional way of looms by using the method of implanting flannel into existing fabrics. Greatly improved the production speed, which is a major breakthrough in the development of carpet mechanization, so far tufted carpet has accounted for about 90% of the total output of carpet.


The history of hand-woven carpet weaving is inextricably linked to a familiar religion: Islam. With the prosperity of Islam, the art of weaving hand-woven carpets has also been continuously developed and sublimated again. Today, the prayer carpets produced in the islamic-influenced countries of the western Silk Road continue to be traditionally classically designed for generations.


From the design of hand-woven carpet patterns, the selection of raw materials to natural dyes, weaving techniques, there are strict and complex processes. Before and after each process, the craftsmen chanted the Koran to express their deep blessings to the future carpet owner, while also attaching strength to each hand-woven carpet. When standing at the center of the hand-woven carpet pattern, you seem to be standing at the center of the world, the center of the universe, and the continuous and rhythmic Arabian vine pattern sublimates the powerful aura around you, which is the mysterious power from ancient Persia and a symbol of your wealth and status.


Evolution of carpet patterns


Carpet pattern design is a broad and diverse design that is determined by genetic factors that are immutable. Traditional Chinese patterns and traditional Persian patterns have been integrated with each other for a long time, but they have produced a more modern and handmade silk carpet, that is, the silk carpet produced in Nanyang, Henan Province, which now occupies half of the world's craft silk carpet. The handmade silk carpets here have far surpassed the silk carpets of Iran and India in terms of quantity and quality. The Iranian silk carpet has been plagued by many factors and has not been able to get out of the old box, which has resulted in the current extremely passive export situation. Not to mention that India has not had its own characteristics in terms of design and production, so it has not yet made its own carpet industry have a greater improvement.


The pattern of the carpet has developed along with the continuous progress of human society in writing, painting, living habits and social customs. "The colored silk is fragrant, and the soft flowers of the line are invincible. The beauty stepped on the song and dance, and the shoes of the stockings were gone. This is the Description of a Floral Carpet by the Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi, which shows the beauty of the pattern of the carpet. After the Qing Dynasty, carpets gradually formed four traditional patterns, such as Beijing style, colorful flower style, plain convex style and fine art style. Compared with the carpets produced by nomadic peoples such as Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet, the Beijing-style carpets are thick and have the characteristics of cutting flowers. By the end of the Qing Dynasty and later in the 30s and 40s, the use of graphics and colors has been very exquisite, the patterns of this period are characterized by sparse edges, curved flowers, calm colors, and more contrasting colors, mainly dark gray tones. Colorful fancy pattern elegant, fresh, lively, like the craft of flowers and birds painting, in the carpet design using a reasonable spatial layout, scattered cuttings, performance of the subject matter of more beautiful, graceful and colorful flowers and birds, brilliant colors, composition forms of diagonal flowers, three branches, four branches of flowers, cluster flowers and so on. The plain convex pattern is quiet and elegant, woven with monochrome convex flowers, and the pattern pieces are clear and beautiful after cutting, like reliefs. The fine art pattern is a pattern of artistic innovation and design based on various European architectural and other decorative patterns. In 1920, China introduced this design style, and after 1950, it was collectively known as the fine art style in the carpet industry. With the "flower cluster" pattern composed of blooming roses, bud curls, tulips, etc., the color is gorgeous and layered, especially the Baroque art style has been borrowed and used a lot.


With the improvement of people's living standards and the diversification of market demand, product design cannot be limited to the above simple patterns. Various forms of artistic expression are widely used in carpet design with the development momentum of a hundred flowers blooming and a hundred schools of thought contending. For this reason, we define it as "Academy of Fine Arts" pattern design. After the reform and opening up, graduates of dyeing and weaving design majors trained by higher art colleges represented by the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts (now Tsinghua University) and Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts have successively moved to the field of carpet and tapestry design. Novel and innovative designs continue to emerge, and on the basis of carrying forward the traditional national patterns and national colors, various materials and artistic languages are boldly applied to pattern design. A large number of innovative design carpets are sold all over the world, contributing to the development of China's carpet industry. At present, Xinjiang has gradually promoted the new process of carpet scalding, so that the quality of carpets has improved. They developed five hundred and forty and more than seven hundred and twenty carpets, which were exquisite in craftsmanship and had high artistic value.


I believe that carpets will become an indispensable part of our lives in the near future.


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