Oushak rugs are some of the finest Oriental Rugs, so much so that many of the masterpieces of the 15th and 16th centuries have been attributed to Oushak. The popular star and medallion carpets originated in Oushak.
Oushak rugs are known for the silky, luminous wool they work with. The dyes tend towards: cinnamons, terracotta tints, gold, blues, greens, ivory, saffron and grays.
The late 19th century saw the rejuvenation of Oriental rug production, at this time Oushak re-surfaced as a preeminent center of weaving industry. The new Oushak industry saw two major shifts in design, floral patterns in the Persian tradition were incorporated into design and room size, decorative carpets were woven as European standards demanded.
The late 19th century weavers came from villages outside of Oushak and employed tribal techniques. Paramount to these techniques was the use of larger knots (sometimes less than 30 knots per square inch) and an all-wool foundation. The tribal style fused with the older Oushak designs. The merger of the two styles created a new style simply known as late 19th/early 20th century Oushak carpets. The new decorative Oushak, commercially woven, employed a soft red, as its primary color offsetting the large-scale floral motifs from the field in a bright blue. The luxurious quality of the wool (for which Oushaks had always been known) aided the colors luminosity.
After the 17th century, Oushaks, development of Oushak rug weaving is less well known. Late 17th century saw a decline in the Oriental rug market as European consumers tended to purchase rugs of European origin – primarily Aubusson, Savonnerie and Axminster. The wane in the European market meant that Oushak production declined. Those that were still made throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries were manufactured for upper-class people in the Turkish territories on Eastern Europe.
Towards the end of the 19th century, when the European market began to be interested in Persian carpets once again, the Oushak Oushak population did not have enough weavers still skilled in the traditional Oushak craft. Manufactories had to turn to neighboring villages and their craftsmen who still maintained traditional techniques.
Oushak carpets, particularly those known as Lotto carpets, are among the later types of Oriental carpets in Renaissance painting, as they were imported by Europeans, where they adorned cathedrals, churches, and the homes of the wealthy and powerful.
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