History of Chinese Rugs Through the Ages

Did you know that handmade Chinese rugs have been around for thousands of years? Although one of the earliest surviving rugs is from 500 BCE and came from an area that was Persia, which is modern-day Iran. Handmade rugs were used in several parts of the world and held different significances. Although handmade Chinese rugs do not have as long of a documented history as those from some other countries do, their story is also interesting.

Handmade rugs were certainly known and appreciated in China well before they were produced there. One of the oldest forms of documented evidence describing Persian rugs is a Chinese text from the Sassanid era, which was between 224 and 651 CE. Their history includes early influences and later years that are tied to the documentation of production.

Controversy With Rugs in China

There is some speculation and controversy over rugs being made and sold in China during the Ming dynasty, which was from 1368 to 1644. The earliest records of hand-knotted rugs that were produced and sold in China are from the 1700s. However, some historians say that rugs may have been made in China for emperors as early as the 16th century. Although they may have been made even before that, there is no reliable evidence to show that they were both produced and sold in the country. There are several rugs from the early days of documented production preserved in a museum in Beijing.

Most Chinese handmade rugs are crafted from wool or silk using Persian-inspired techniques. In the early days of handcrafted rugs, wool was scarcer than silk. While it was considered luxurious by upper-class buyers, it was practical to the native nomads who created the rugs. Silk production was more difficult in the past. However, it is still considered a luxury today. Some modern rugs may also include cotton or other material blends depending on the manufacturer.