RUG OF THE MONTH
Tibetan rugs today are often characterized by their soft, plush feel and simple designs and are becoming a very popular rug choice for many people. These rugs are versatile in many types of decor and can range from very casual to formal. However, Tibetan rugs today are not like the Tibetan rugs of old, and are often not even made in Tibet!
Early Tibetan Weaving
Tibetan rug weaving is a centuries-old art that began, like rug weaving in many countries, in villages throughout Tibet to create small scatter size rugs for home use and for meditation purposes. Eventually rugs were made in villages to support and adorn the Buddhist monasteries. The details of these rugs had a strong Chinese influence and exhibited many cultural symbols. One such common design was the Tiger rug, like the one shown here. These rugs were used as meditation mats, to take the place of real tiger pelts, which were thought to provide protection in the Tibetan culture. Other common symbols found in antique Tibetan rugs include dragons, lotus flowers, phoenix, and clouds -- all designs also found in traditional Chinese rugs.
Tibetan rugs Today
In the 1950s China invaded and occupied Tibet. That event began a emigration of Tibetans into Nepal and India. Many Tibetans settled in the new areas with nothing more than their skills -- and many were skilled weavers. The Nepal rug weaving industry was non-existent prior to the influx of Tibetans into the country. Now it is the major export of the country, creating beautiful handmade rugs in the Tibetan tradition. Once this industry took hold in Nepal, the rug designs and colors were influenced by the western market, first the German market and eventually the American market. Today, Nepal is the largest producer of Tibetan rugs, but the designs are not the designs of the original Tibetan rugs (which are very hard to find), but more typical of contemporary tastes. Tibetan rugs often tend towards open-fields with simple designs and soft colors.