Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Worn Me Down

After posting the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack cover yesterday, I remembered that when I was little I thought the central design on this antique Oriental rug represented a sun. Maybe one day I'll dig up some old family photos that show glimpses of it beneath Christmas presents and we can see how it has aged over the past few decades, but I have no way of documenting what it looked like 120 years ago (assuming that's the correct age).  

Like a lot of Westerners, I'm attracted to the evidence of wear -- the colors made more mellow by time and the almost nonexistent "pile." Technically, pile, to use the Textile Museum's definition, is a plush or shaggy surface formed by the cut ends of yarns known as rug knots. And pile rugs traditionally created east of the Mediterranean are classified as Oriental rugs. The rug above is so worn that it now feels like a kilim (no-pile textile) or flatweave. If you're interested, Marla Mallett has put together a seriously comprehensive tribal flatweave bibliography. Click here for a sampling of Mansour's stunning collection of antique Oriental and Persian rugs.

I say this nearly every time I post an Oriental rug: the dense patterns hide a multitude of sins making them extremely family-friendly.

Oh, and speaking of kilim, in her shop Capella Kincheloe has wonderful handwoven Turkish kilim pillows handsewn with vintage wool yarn. I love how she opted to use striped kilim on the back of this one.


Marija said...

Simply gorgeous. Here is what I've been trying to find out and maybe you know the answer/a source or perhaps it's a good conversation starter: short of time, any way to achieve this look on a fairly new rug? We have some old ones that are not old by oriental rug standards and I'd love to enjoy it in a "more mellow" state...

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Truly a gorgeous family heirloom. I love the colors and especially the 'sun'.

A great summer weekend to you Schuyler ~

Style Court said...

Hi Marija,

Thanks for stopping by. Everyone has really different views on 'distressing' new things. There are honest reproductions made to look like older rugs, and of course there are fakes passing as antiques. Daily use and sun streaming through windows ages new things more gently. In fact, many people protect valuable textiles from sunlight because it can be so harsh. So, in short, whether you want it to or not, sun fades things for sure. I'd probably let the aging happen naturally -- not purposely beat it up :)

Style Court said...

DT --

Thanks for noticing the colors. I do love them. Have a great weekend!


Karena said...

It is a beautful heirloom to treasure.....I love the design.

Art by Karena

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

It is interesting this desire for wear. What is it, must be more to it than meets the eye? I share this passion with you Courtney, very thought provoking. pgt

Lila said...

It's a beautiful rug. I think there's something about worn pieces that attracts people. Maybe it's the possible story behind each one!
Lila Ferraro
Queen Bedroom Sets

Mrs. Blandings said...

It is a beautiful rug and telling that you were studying its pattern as a girl. We have an old rug of Mr. B's grandmother's. So worn it has a hole, which makes it so much better in my eyes.