From Academic Kids

A carpet is any loom-woven, felted textile or grass floor covering. The term was also used for table and wall coverings, as carpets were not commonly used on the floor in European interiors until the 18th century. The hand-knotted pile carpet probably originated in Mongolia or Turkestan between the 4th and 2nd millennium BC. Carpet-making was introduced to Spain in 10th century by the Moors. The Crusades brought Turkish carpets to all of Europe, where they were primarily hung on walls or used on tables. Only with the opening of trade routes in the 17th century were significant numbers of Persian rugs introduced to Western Europe.

Some use the words carpet and rug interchangeably. Historically, however, some have distinguished between carpet and rug based on size (the former being larger) or use (carpets on floors, rugs on beds or on the hearth). For the sake of clarity, some textile scholars also differentiate between carpets and carpeting. In this usage, the latter are wall-to-wall and are often woven in strips. In the real estate and home improvement industries a distinction is made between carpet (or carpeting) and rug. The former indicates a covering that is affixed to a floor and the latter a floor covering that is loose-laid, most often for decorative purposes.

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Contemporary Afghan Rug

Carpet types

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Swatches of machine-made carpet

A flatweave carpet is created by interlocking warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) threads. Types of oriental flatwoven carpet include kilim, soumak, plain weave, and tapestry weave. Types of European flatwoven carpets include Venetian, Dutch, damask, list, haircloth, and ingrain (aka double cloth, two-ply, triple cloth, or three-ply).

A hooked rug is a simple type of rug handmade by pulling strips of cloth such as wool or cotton through the meshes of a sturdy fabric such as burlap. This type of rug is now generally made as a handicraft.

On a knotted pile carpet (formally, a supplementary weft cut-loop pile carpet), the structural weft threads alternate with a supplementary weft that rises from the surface of the weave at a perpendicular angle. This supplementary weft is attached to the warp by one of three knot types (see below) to form the pile or nap of the carpet.

In the late 19th century moquette came to mean wall-to-wall carpeting. However, its historical usage refers to supplementary warp cut or uncut loop pile made on a draw loom (aka Velour d'Utrecht, Brussels, Wilton, boucl駧', and Fris駧'). These textiles have a low pile and are thinner than hand knotted pile carpets. This form of carpeting, made as early as the 16th century, is constructed on a mechanized loom like velvet: the supplementary warps loop under the weft and are attached without forming a knot. Because of the loom structure only five colors can be used to create the design. Moquette is woven in relatively narrow panels (usually 27" or 36"). Larger works are composed of several stripes sewn together. Moquette carpets have been used on floors, tables, as furniture upholstery, and wall coverings. Production was improved with the application of the Jacquard mechanism (see Jacquard loom) in 1812 in France and c. 1825 in England. The addition of steam power in the mid-19th century further improved manufacturing capabilities.

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Swatches of Berber carpet

Unlike woven carpets, embroidery carpets are not formed on a loom. Their pattern is established by the application of stitches to a cloth (often linen) base. The tent stitch and the cross stitch are two of the most common. Embroidered carpets were traditionally made by royal and aristocratic women in the home, however, there has also been some commercial manufactory since the 16th century. That century saw a rise in production due to the introduction of steel needles (earlier needles were made of bone) and improvement in linen weaving. Mary Stewart Queen of Scots is known to have been an avid embroiderer. 16th century designs usually involve scrolling vines and regional flowers (for example, the Bradford carpet). They often incorporate animal heraldry and the coat of arms of the maker. Production continued through the 19th century. Victorian embroidered carpet compositions include highly illusionistic, 3-dimensional flowers. Patterns for tiled (composed of a series of squares) carpets, called Berlin wool work, were introduced in Germany in 1804. They became extremely popular in England in the 1830s.

Several less expensive, machine-made carpet types were invented 19th-century in Great Britain. Tapestry brussels and tapestry velvet production began in 1832. These techniques minimized waste by printing different colors on the same thread eliminating the need to use different spools. In 1839 James Templeton developed a chenille technique. His carpets were called Patent Axminster in reference to the more expensive, hand-knotted Axminster rugs. Steam power was applied to these looms in 1884. Although production continued until the mid-20th century, chenille carpeting declined after the invention of Spool Axminster (1878) and Gripper Axminster (1890). These types were developed from the American Halcyon Skinner's 1860s invention called the "nipper".

Production of knotted pile carpet

Both flat and pile carpets are woven on a loom. Both vertical and horizontal looms have been used in the production of European and Oriental carpets.

The warp threads are set up on the frame of the loom before weaving begins. A number of weavers may work together on the same carpet. A row of knots is completed and cut. The knots are secured with (usually 1 to 4) rows of weft.

There are three main types of knot: symmetrical (also called: Turkish or Ghiordes), asymmetrical (also called: Persian or Senna), and single warp (also called: Spanish).

Contemporary centers of oriental carpet production are: Turkey, Northern Africa, the Caucasus, Iran, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Tibet, and Pirot.

Flag of Turkmenistan
Flag of Turkmenistan

The importance of carpets in the culture of Turkmenistan is such that the national flag features a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five carpet guls (designs used in producing rugs).

Early Carpets

The hand-knotted pile carpet probably originated in Mongolia or Turkestan between the 4th and 2nd millennium BC.

The earliest surviving pile carpet in the world is called the "Pazyryk Carpet,". It is usually dated to the 5th century BC. It was excavated by Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko in 1927 from a Siberian burial ground where it had been preserved in ice in the valley of Pazyryk. The origin of this carpet is debated. It has been proposed to be a product of either the Iranian Scythians or the Persian Achaemenids.

The earliest group of surviving knotted pile carpets were produced under Seljuk rule, in the first half of the 13th century, on the Anatolian peninsula. The eighteen extant works are often referred to as the Konya Carpets. The central field of these large carpets is an overall geometric repeat pattern. The borders are ornamented with a large-scale, stylized, angular calligraphy called Kufic, pseudo-Kufic, or Kufesque.

Persian and Anatolian carpets

See Persian rug

Oriental Carpets in Europe

Oriental carpets began to appear in Europe after the Crusades in the 11th century. Until the mid-18th century they were mostly used on walls and tables. Except in royal or ecclesiastical settings they were considered too precious to cover the floor. Starting in the 13th century Oriental carpets begin to appear in paintings (notably from Italy, Flanders, England, France, and the Netherlands). Carpets of Indo-Persian design were introduced to Europe via the Dutch, British, and French East India Companies of the 17th and 18th century.

Spanish carpets

Although isolated instances of carpet production pre-date the Muslim invasion of Spain, the Hispano-Moresque examples are the earliest significant body of European-made carpets. Documentary evidence shows production beginning in Spain as early as the 10th century AD. The earliest extant Spanish carpet, the so-called Synagogue carpet, is a unique survival dated to the 14th century. The earliest group of Hispano-Moresque carpets, Admiral carpets (also know as armorial carpets), has an all-over geometric, repeat pattern punctuated by blazons of noble, Christian Spanish families. The variety of this design was analyzed most thoroughly by May Beattie. Many of the 15th-century, Spanish carpets rely heavily on designs originally developed on the Anatolian Peninsula. Carpet production continued after the Reconquest of Spain and eventual expulsion of the Muslim population in the 15th century. 16th-century Renaissance Spanish carpet design is a derivative of silk textile design. Two of the most popular motifs are wreaths and pomegranates.

French carpets

In 1608 Henry IV initiated the French production of "Turkish style" carpets under the direction of Pierre Dupont. This production was soon moved to the Savonnerie factory in Chaillot just west of Paris. The earliest, well-known group produced by the Savonnerie, then under the direction of Simon Lourdet, are the so-called Louis XIII carpets. This is a misnomer, however, as they were produced in the early years of Louis XIV's reign (circa 1743-1761). They are densely ornamented with flowers, sometimes in vases or baskets. The designs are based on Netherlandish and Flemish textiles and paintings. The most famous Savonnerie carpets are those made for the Grande Galerie and Galerie d'Apollon in the Louvre between c. 1665-1685. These 105 masterpieces, made under the artistic direction of Charles Le Brun, were never installed as Louis XIV moved to Versailles in 1678. Their design combines rich acanthus leaves, architectural-style framing, and mythological scenes (inspired by Cesare Ripa's Iconologie) with emblems of Louis XIV's royal power. Pierre-Josse Perrot is the most well-known of the mid-18th-century carpet designers. His many surviving works and drawings display graceful rococo s-scrolls, central rosettes, shells, acanthus leaves, and floral swags. The Savonnerie manufactory was moved to the Gobelins in Paris in 1826. The Beauvais manufactory, better known for their tapestry, made knotted pile carpets from 1780 to 1792. Carpet production in small, privately owned workshops in the town of Aubusson began in 1743. Carpets produced in France employ the symmetrical knot.

English carpets

Knotted pile carpet weaving technology probably came to England in the early 16th century with Flemish Calvinists fleeing religious persecution. Because many of these weavers settled in South-eastern England in Norwich the 14 extant 16th and 17th century carpets are sometimes referred to as "Norwich carpets." These works are either adaptations of Anatolian or Indo-Persian designs or employ Elizabethan-Jacobean scrolling vines and blossoms. All but one are dated or bear a coat of arms. Like the French, English weavers used the symmetrical knot. There are documented and surviving examples of carpets from three 18th-century manufactories: Exeter (1756-1761, owned by Claude Passavant, 3 extant carpets), Moorfields (1752-1806, owned by Thomas Moore, 5 extant carpets), and Axminster (1755-1835, owned by Thomas Whitty, numerous extant carpets). Exeter and Moorfields were both staffed with renegade weavers from the French Savonnerie and, therefore, employ the weaving structure of that factory and Perrot-inspired designs. Neoclassical designer Robert Adam supplied designs for both Moorfields and Axminster carpets based on Roman floor mosaics and coffered ceilings. Some of the most well-known rugs of his design were made for Syon House, Osterley Park House, Harewood House, Saltram House, and Newby Hall. Six of Axminster carpets are known as the "Lansdowne" group. These have a tripartite design with reeded circles and baskets of flowers in the central panel flanked by diamond lozenges in the side panels. Axminster Rococo designs often have a brown ground and include birds copied from popular, contemporary engravings. Carpets will forever be associated with the town of Kidderminster in Worcestshire, United Kingdom. This was the heart of the UK carpet industry throughout the industrial revolution. Even now, a large percentage of the 55,000 population town still seek employment in this industry.

Scandinavian carpets

The traditional Scandinvian carpet is the rya, made from hand-knotted wool. Dating from the 15th century, the first ryas were coarse, long-piled, heavy covers used by fishermen instead of furs. The rugs became lighter and more ornamental. By the 19th century they were often splendid festive tapestries. Now, the rya is a painting in textile, with individual artists identifiable by the colors, patterns and techniques.

Modern carpeting and installation

Carpeting is an attached floor covering made of a heavy, thick fabric, usually woven or felted, often wool, but also cotton, hemp, straw, or a synthetic counterpart. It is typically knotted or glued to a base weave. It is made in breadths to be cut, sewed together, and affixed to a floor over a cushion (pad) using nails, tackless strips, or adhesives, thus distinguishing it from a rug or mat which are loose-laid floor coverings. Carpeting which covers an entire room area is loosely referred to as 'wall-to-wall,' but carpet can be installed over any portion thereof with use of appropriate transition moldings where the carpet meets other types of floor coverings. Carpeting is more than just a single item; it is, in fact, a system comprised of the carpet itself, the cushion, and a method of installation. 'Carpet tiles' are squares of carpet, typically 0.5m square, that can be used to cover a floor. They are usually only used in commercial settings and often are not affixed to a floor in order to allow access to the subfloor (in an office environment, for example) or to allow rearrangement in order to spread wear.

Care and use of carpet

Carpets in a house help to reduce noise levels and minimize heat loss through the floor. They are also more comfortable to lie on or to sit on than a hard wooden floor.

Carpets are harder to clean than bare floors, spilled drinks may stain them, and they tend to collect fur from family pets. They should be vacuumed regularly in order to prevent the accumulation of dust.

Dust mites can survive very well in carpets, which can be problematic for sufferers of asthma who are allergic to them.

See also

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