Antique Turkish Oushak rugs have been woven in Western Turkey since the beginning of the Ottoman period. Historians attributed to them many of the great masterpieces of early Turkish carpet weaving from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. However, less is known about what happened to production there in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. When things become clearer toward 1900, the Oushak region re-emerges as a major center, this time for room-size decorative rugs. Antique Turkish carpets such as these are desirable today as highly decorative pieces. They come in central medallion designs as well as patterns of smaller allover medallions or scattered sprays of vine scroll and palmettes. They are notable for the grand, monumental scale of the designs, often a subdued palette in soft apricot and golden saffron tones whose pleasing qualities are enhanced by their particularly soft and lustrous wool.
Cosmopolitan and sophisticated are two words that aptly describe Oushak rugs. Although the Ghiordes knot and the quirky angular designs have a certain primitive air, the rugs from Turkey are exceptionally unique and attractive. Without compromising to appeal to Western consumers, weavers here managed to create one of the country’s most desirable rug styles. The angular arabesques and ornamental medallions are not dissimilar from Persian motifs but are executed in a more rectilinear manner and woven in a unique palette that includes bold Mediterranean-influenced colors and chic pastels.
The Oushak rugs have become the rugs of choice for many of the top interior decorators in the world today. For the most part they are not high quality rugs but that is what makes them so special. Since the knot count is considerably lower than the antique rugs made in Persia – antique Turkish rugs were woven with larger scale patterns. These carpets are also extremely desirable because of their colors – which are usually much lighter and “happier” in feel than rugs from other regions. So if you are looking for an antique or vintage rug with a large scale design and soft colors, theses should top your list.
It is generally believed that rug making in Anatolia began with the advent of the Seljuks in the 11th century. By the 15th century, rugs were being produced by factories and independent weavers in the environs of Oushak. The origins of of the rugs from Oushak must therefore be looked for between these two dates. The rugs of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries were widely acclaimed in Europe where they were appreciated and depicted in the paintings of many artists such as Lorenzo Lotto and Hans Holbein. During the 18th century the production of Oushak rugs had deteriorated and became much more commercial.
Although the Oushak rugs are made using less complicated methods, they are extremely decorative in nature. Their larger scale patterns along with their soft and decorative coloration make these rugs extremely sought after by the trend-setters and taste-makers in the interior design trade.
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