Oushak Rugs: A History

Posted in Persian Rugs

When you search for antique rugs online, you’ll get plenty of results that include general information, prices, products, stores to purchase and a lot of similar details of different types of antique rugs from different places. If you are already familiar with antique rugs, you’d know that they are classified in different ways, but mainly according to the places they come from. And one of popular category of antique rugs is the Oushak rugs that come from the city of Usak in Turkey. Also know as Ushak Rugs.

Ushak rugs are mainly known for their star and medallion designs in colours like ivory, green, blue, terracotta tints, gray and cinnamon. They are mostly made of wool, especially the silky and luminous wool, used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Oushak rugs, also called Usak rugs, goes back to the 15th century and the Ottoman empire, that comes with a cultural heritage of its own, which was reflected on every aspect of life of that time. These are also called Anatolian rugs as Usak belonged to the Anatolia region of Turkey. And even today, Usak remains one of the main areas of rug making, with its own traditions and methods of making rugs.

There was a time when Oushak rugs were hugely popular in the European markets, due to the beautiful designs that they had, mostly seen in the paintings of Renaissance painters Lorenzo Lotto and Hans Holbein. These paintings showed the rugs brightening up the rooms in which they were used, which were mostly cathedrals and castles as well as homes of noblemen. Because of their various features, These rugs were in demand in the East as well as West for a long time.

When rugs started getting manufactured in the Western countries, Oushak rugs had a decline in the markets, which was around the 17th century, especially in the markets of the West. During the 18th and 19th centuries they were made mainly for the upper strata of society within Turkey. However, they did not have to suffer this situation for long. European markets started showing interest in Oriental rugs once again towards the latter part of the 19th century, which revived the Oushak rugs and brought them before the world once more.

The 19th and 20th century Oushak rugs were woven not only by weavers belonging to Oushak but also those who came from the neighbouring villages and created a blend of the Oushak rug making traditions with the older Ushak or Smyra designs. As a result, you’ll find that the rugs of this era had a new style, which is more decorative in soft red shades with floral details and bright blue settings.

Today, you’ll find Oushak rugs hugely in demand by interior designers and rug enthusiasts and collectors across the world. Their unique charm to add luxury and brightness to a room has become their main selling points in the rug making industry.

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