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Handweaving as an Art Form Throughout History

It is an assuring feeling for us when we look at the past and see that even thousands of years ago from today, somebody shared the same passion as us. The comfort and the wholesomeness we seek today might just be inherent to human nature and not the results of the convenience of modern life spoiling us.

We as humans often try to justify our obsessions and desires by looking in the past and rationalizing these feelings through biology and sometimes history and at Handan Loomworks, we too admit to indulging in the past of our profession.

The Origins of Rug Weaving

We think about rugs today as an interior design, a fashion thing. This is a testament to how come we have come as humans as the history of rugs is much humbler than that. It is usually believed that it was either the nomadic people of central Asia or the Ancient Egyptians that first discovered the art of handweaving. They were made using sustainable, raw materials that were obtained from the home country that was probably the birthplace of that certain weaving tradition.

As handwoven rugs are quite perishable, they tend to not survive for thousands of years. So, the origin of rug weaving is still quite a mystery. In order for a rug to survive thousands of years, it needs to be preserved in ice during the process. It is not a coincidence that the oldest surviving examples of rugs usually are found in the harsh and cold environment of northern central Asia.

While we doubt the first ever human to invent handweaving had the luxury to think about the aesthetics of the rug rather than its utility, it probably didn’t take that long to start thinking of these furnishings as a form of art. The oldest rug ever discovered, The Pazyryk Rug, has impressively detailed animal motifs on it such as horses and moose.

It was woven using the Ghiordes knot, a weaving method that was later adopted by the Anatolian Turks. It is a knot type that is used in making carpets and rugs, in which the two ends of pile yarn appear together at the surface between the two adjacent warp yarns around which they are twisted. It is maybe one of the most important weaving methods in rug history.

Worldwide Spread and Changing Traditions

The art of handweaving later spread to the middle-east and was introduced to countless other cultures. Every culture that has the pleasure of adopting this art puts its own twist on it. It was probably around this time that the purpose of rugs became much more than just protecting our feet from the cold and dampness of the ground.

The improvements in weaving methods, availability of materials, and the skill of the craftsmen getting better each generation turned handweaving into a proper art style. Eventually, high-quality rugs become the prized possessions of the cultural elites and important political figures. The patterns became more beautiful, colorful, and elaborate and they even started to draw the awe of other nations as it is known in the history of Persian rugs that invading enemies made an effort to take handwoven rugs back to their homes.

Rug Weaving Today

Since the industrial revolutions, manufacturing methods in all industries have been improving faster than they did in the last couple of thousand years combined and sadly, the same thing can be said about the production of furnishing.

Most rugs you find in a store nowadays were most likely made with the help of automation and don’t have the lineage back to these rugs we have talked about. Our understanding of furnishing is much different now.

People buy more things, and use them for a short amount of time and the importance of rugs as prized possessions is only acknowledged by a limited number of absolute enthusiasts. But thanks to the rising interest in more sustainable products and the resurgence of slow fashion, there is an interest in handwoven products that were made with all-natural, raw materials and Handan Loomworks is proud to be a part of this movement.

Our methods of weaving can be followed back to the same heritage that we have talked about just now. The same historical handweaving methods that were passed down the generation through a tradition of craftsmanship and decorate the homes of enthusiasts around the world and we are planning to help people rediscover the value these old methods still have to offer.

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