THE Chinese rugs of antiquity are remarkable, and worthy of the closest inspection. Their texture, designs, and symbolism show the greatest patience and thought. Antique wool rugs woven in China are very scarce, and because of this, and for their historical interest as well as their uniqueness and attractiveness, they bring large prices. In fact, they are almost unprocurable. A large and very fine specimen of this kind of rug is in the home of the late Governor Ames of Boston. It measures nine-teen by twenty-one feet. The colors are yellow and white, and these are arranged in odd designs over the entire rug. A member of the family owning it writes : "This rug is said to have originally been in the Emperor's Palace in China. As every emperor is obliged to have the palace newly furnished when he succeeds to the throne, owing to some superstition connected with the retaining of any of the former Emperor's possessions, everything is removed and destroyed. Fortunately this rug escaped destruction." A fine example of an antique Chinese rug is represented in one of the illustrations of this book.
The modern Chinese rugs are vastly different from those of antiquity. There is, however, much of interest attached to them. They are sought because of their antique designs, their harmonious coloring, and their durability. The monstrous and fantastic forms that distinguished the antique are not so frequently met with in the modern production. The predominating colors in a modern Chinese rug are yellow, blue, white, and fawn, and these are arranged very effectively. The designs are quaint and odd. A border distinctly separated from the field is almost invariably seen. A most important geometrical motif observed in Chinese rugs is the Meandrian, especially the continuous and that derived from the hooked cross. The hooked cross we find with rounded arms, generally in connection with a cloud band. The rosette from the vegetable motifs is very frequent, especially in borders ; also the branch and the continuous creeper. Bats, butterflies, storks, and the goose are in many borders. The lion symbol of a happy omen—is often represented in those rugs designed especially for wedding ceremonies.
In the northern part of China rugs are decorated with colored threads in crude imitation of figures ; they are woven in sections, and then sewed together. Camel's hair of a coarse quality is used extensively by the Chinese for their rugs, and the laboring class use felts in their houses. These are cheap and durable, and are placed on the tiled floors so common in the colder parts of China.
The skins of the doe, deer, and fox are much used in China as rugs. These skins are sewed together in sections, according to various designs, and resemble mosaic work.
There are more circular rugs found in China than in any other country, and some are exported. But they are seldom called for in this country, and clerks in the large establishments which import them express surprise when inquiries are made for them. The warp of the ordinary Chinese rug is mostly of cotton, and the woof and pile are of wool or camel's hair.
Tsun-hua rugs are made of silk and camel's hair in the province of Chi-Li.
( Originally Published Late 1900's )