Chinese carpets in history

- Oct 30, 2019-

When we talk about the current state of Chinese carpets, we should first look back at history.The oldest known woollen carpets date back to about 2,500 years ago, and fragments of the han dynasty woollen carpets have been found in present-day xinjiang.The Chinese were already trading with nomadic tribes in central Asia, and early written records show that carpets were traded along the ancient silk road.So far, it has not been confirmed whether the carpet fragments were woven in China or acquired through trade.The next oldest extant carpet is from the late Ming dynasty, more than 1200 years ago.While there is no shortage of paintings and literature, surviving woolen carpets are rare (although there are some surviving carpets).

Chinese tang dynasty documents have records of carpets used in temples and Taoist temples, most of which were donated by the royal family.In the description of the Japanese pilgrim, hikari, we can also see the emperor using carpets for sacrifices and outings.

In the song dynasty, carpets were mainly used as gifts to maintain peace with western nomads.CAI wenji's famous story of being kidnapped and released by the huns is often depicted in paintings, including the use of carpets in military camps.

When the mongols established the yuan dynasty, they inherited the tradition of using carpets.It is known from literature research that carpet manufacturing workshops existed in the northern suburbs of Beijing, which indicates that the tradition of carpet weaving emerged from that period.The use of carpets was closely related to the increase of wealth of the court and the noble class.

When the Forbidden City was built and decorated in the Ming dynasty, the carpets were specially made for the palace.The portraits of Ming emperors featured ornate red carpets, and the emperor's corridors were carpeted.From the existing Ming dynasty carpets in the Forbidden City, it can be seen that these carpets with unique Chinese design and superb craftsmanship were made by highly skilled craftsmen with high artistic value.According to rare written records, these carpets were provided only to emperors and high-ranking officials for use in formal court ceremonies.

With the arrival of the manchu dynasty, another nomadic background made the use of carpets inevitable.The carpets in the palace were made in the royal workshop.Emperor kangxi, with long-term stable demand and rules, gave birth to the best carpet works in Chinese art. He highly appreciated the carpet making art and even visited the carpet manufacturing center in ningxia to see the proofing.

Although only a handful of wool carpets from the 18th century have survived, existing examples show that this is a highly sophisticated art that can easily be compared to other Chinese arts.

Emperor qianlong of the qing dynasty cherished the legacy of his grandfather kangxi, especially the imperial carpets, and continued to weave fine carpets to continuously improve their artistic value.