/European carpets
european rugs, english carpet, irish rugs

European carpets

Oriental carpets began to show up in Europe after the crusades in the 11th century.

Until the middle of 18th century they were mostly used as wall decorations and on tables. At the beginning of the 13th century, the Oriental carpets could be seen in different paintings for example from Italy, England and France.

Carpets with Indo-Persian designs were introduced in Europe through the Dutch, British and French East India Companies in the 17th and 18th century.

French carpets

The French production of handmade carpets began in 1608 as an initiative of Henry IV. The Turkish carpets served as models and the carpets were woven with symmetrical knots.

The production was moved in 1628 outside of Paris to a closed soap factory giving the name of Savonnerie.

The earliest produced caprets from there were often called Louis XII carpets, which is misleading because they were made during the early reign of Louis XIV.

The carpets were decorated with flowers, often in vases or baskets, but also military motifs and motifs from the architecture could be seen. The patterns were taken from Dutch and Flemish textiles and paintings.

The most known Savonneri carpets, a total of 105, are the ones made for “Grande Galerie” and “Galerie d’Apollon” in theLouvre. The period of greatness in Savonnerie lasted between 1650 and 1789.

The manufacturing in Savonnerie was moved to Gobelins in Paris in 1826, a royal factory for manufacturing of woven tapestries and furniture clothing. This was done during the French revolution and the quality on the carpets went down during this time.

Manufacturing in the city of Aubusson began in 1743 in a small private owned workshop. In Beauvais handmade carpets were being manufactured between the years between 1780 to 1792.

The carpets made compraised of copied Turkish designs, but changed to simpler variants of the Savonnerie style.

Nowadays there is no production to speak of in France but the styles from Savonnerie and Aubusson are copied in countries like China, India and Pakistan.

English carpets

The technique used to weave carpets was first found in England in the beginning of the 16th century. Most of the carpet manufacturers were situated in southeast of England around the city of Norwich in the 16th and 17th century.

The styles on the carpets then, were often inspired from Anatolian and Indo-Persian patterns. Like the French manufacturers symmetrical knots were used.

At present, not many carpets from this age exist and the ones that exist are in private possession and originate from
Exeter, Moorfield and Axminster.

Bothin Exeter and in Moorfield former weavers from Savonnerie in France worked in these areas, therefore some patterns can be recognized from that area. Some carpets from Axminster were woven with a brown background and with patterns consisting of birds.

English carpets will forever be associated with the city of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, which was the heart of the English carpet manufacturing throughout the whole industrial revolution.

Spanish carpets

The manufacturing of carpets in Spain dates back to the 10th century. Spain subordinated the Moorish Muslims from the 8th to the 12th century who then introduced the art of weaving carpets.

As a result of this the Spanish carpets had strong influences from Islamic designs and motifs, often in a combination with European motifs such as Christian symbols for example.

The earliest, still existing, carpet from here is the Synagogue Carpet dated back to the 14th century. The patterns at that time were all-over, repeated and geometrical with elements of messages about the Christian Spanish families.

Many of the carpets made in the 15th century gathered their motifs from carpets manufactured in Turkey.

The 16th century patterns on Spanish renaissance carpets are gathered from, not so original, textile designs of silk.

Two of the most popular motifs show garlands and pomegranates. In the 18th and 19th century styles were copied from French Aubusson and Savonnerie.

Today, Spain is one of the few countries were carpets are still being manufactured, even if it is only on a small scale. The carpets are often a little bit more expensive and of high quality. There is also a smaller production of cheaper carpets in Moroccan style.

Irish carpets

The manufacturing of Irish carpets began for real around 1898 when the Scottish textile worker Alexander Morton started carpet manufacturing on the Irish west coast.

The carpets became later known as Donegals after the oriental tradition of naming carpets after its place of origin.

A number of factories were closed during the depression and the production was concentrated to the first factory in Killybegs. The company was later sold to an Irish consortium in 1954, Donegal Carpets Ltd, and the production continued until 1987 when the factory was closed.

Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Killybegs succeeded in 1997 to get the authorities to reopen the historical factory. The manufacturing started again in 1999 with support from the Irish government.

The handmade carpets which are being produced in Killybegs today are the only production left on the British Islands. The carpets are manufactured by order after demanded sizes and with chosen patterns, often abstract ones.