Area Rug Glossary
Shop Area Rugs
Area Rug Buying Guide
Rug Buying Tips
Caring For Area Rugs
Rug Care Basics
Removing Stains
Proper Rug Storage
Decorating with Area Rugs
Measuring for a Rug
Room Layout Ideas
Decorating with Color
Decorating with Style
How Area Rugs Are Made
Braided & Cotton Rugs
Hand-Knotted Rugs
Hand-Tufted Rugs
Hand-Hooked Rugs
Machine-Made Rugs
Flatwoven Rugs
Natural Fiber Rugs
Flokati Rugs
Rug Dyes
Watch Rug Making Video
Where Area Rugs Are Made
Oriental vs. Persian Rugs
Understanding Rug Names
Parts of a Rug Design
The History of Rugs
3000 BC |1000 BC |500 BC |7th Century |8th |13th and 14th
15th |16th |17th |18th |19th |20th |View Antique Rugs

Rug Timeline


Carpets have had a magical appeal since Scheherazade first told the story of Aladdin and his flying carpet. For thousands of years, Oriental carpets have inspired literature, art and music. Since its inception by the nomads in Turkey and Mongolia, rug making has developed into an art that has survived political and religious upheaval. The art of rug making is the common thread that ties cultures together through the centuries.

3000 BC

Nomad tribes start weaving together rugs to make earthen floors warm. They weave the hair from their camels, sheep and goats to form rudimentary rugs.

1000 BC

The rug of Pazyryk is thought to be made - the oldest known carpet. At 300 knots per inch, rug making is well-established.

500 BC

The Greek classic "Agamemnon" mentions rugs.

[Back to Top]
7th Century

By now, the carpet-making process has already been in development for three thousand years.

When the religion of Islam spreads through the Middle East, carpet making accelerates into an art form that depicts the culture’s spirituality and defines the economy.

8th Century

The Arab invasion of the Caucasuses brings Islamic beliefs and the art of rug weaving.

13th and 14th Century

The Crusades bring the appreciation of carpet weaving to Europe.

In 1277, King Louis IX spreads rug popularity through France.

Rugs are custom woven “to order” in the Middle East for European customers.

Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the saints are depicted in rug motifs for the first time.

[Back to Top]
15th Century

Owning an Oriental rug in Europe is now seen as a great status symbol.

Noblemen and women have their portraits painted with their Ottoman or Turkish rugs in the background.

16th Century

The height of rug making in China begins during the Manchus Dynasty, also known as the Qing Dynasty.

Rug making flourishes in the Middle East during the rule of the Safavid Dynasty.

Encrusted with jewels, the Ardebil carpets are the most famed of the time. Ardebil carpets now reside in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Persian rug-weaving industry almost becomes obsolete in 1722 when the Afghans invade Persia.

The Mongul emperor, Akbar, starts rug making in India by bringing Persian weavers from Kashan, Isfahan and Kerman.

Rugs are now considered too precious to put on floors; instead they are used to adorn tables, chests and walls.

In 1570, rug weaving is introduced in England to replicate Persian carpets.

[Back to Top]
17th Century

In 1608, Henry the IV sets up carpet production at his palace at the Louvre in Paris.

Floral motifs, Christian symbols and coat of arms become integrated into designs.

Great Britain controls India, which changes the design and manufacturing processes in that region.

18th Century

Carpet manufacturing takes off in Europe. Workers are paid by the hour instead of by the rug.

Dutch paintings depict many uses for rugs, including foot carpets, table carpets, cupboard carpets and window carpets.

19th Century

In the 1870s, rug makers start using synthetic dyes for coloring wool.

Machine-made rugs are mass-produced in all regions of the Orient.

Forced labor issues begin to arise in India.

[Back to Top]
20th Century

Worldwide mass production makes rugs available to all demographics, not just the wealthy.

The Communist takeover in China changes the rug-making industry. Almost all rugs made in China are mass-produced in factories.

The oldest known rug, named the Pazyryk rug, is found in a frozen tomb in 1949.

In the 1980s, an embargo against Iran diverts major exports to China, India and Tibet.

From 1930 to 1990, almost all carpets use synthetically dyed wool.

In the 1990s, there is a trend to use naturally dyed wool in hand-knotted Oriental rugs.

In 2003, the lifted embargo against Iran makes semi-antique carpets available for export worldwide.

[Back to Top]

View Antique Rugs on Display


Since early times, rug antiquities continue to be highly valuable and important pieces of art. Many museums throughout the world are proud to house ancient hand-knotted rugs for their beauty, craftsmanship and importance to ancient cultures. Area rugs represent an artistic, spiritual and financial contribution to history and culture, as well as a period of design.

United States

Cleveland Museum of Art

De Young Museum

Fogg Art Museum

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Middle East Institute

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Textile Museum

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Metropolitan Museum of Art



Victoria and Albert Museum

Vienna Museum of Applied Arts



Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery

Textile Museum of Canada

[Back to Top]


Read about Rug Buying Tips next.

  Home | Area Rug Glossary | Privacy Policy & Terms of Use