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Understanding the symbolism of Chinese rugs

For hundreds of years, Chinese artisans and crafters have produced hand-woven rugs. Examples of hand-knotted rugs date back to 1696 in Ningxia in north-central China, but the industry really took off in the 1860s, with Beijing workshops commissioned by the emperor’s court.

Identifying features of Chinese rugs (sometimes called Chinese Superwash Rugs) include pastel colours, thick wool pile and carved designs. However, common symbols can also be found on Chinese rugs. In this blog, we’re looking at some often-seen symbols and their meaning.

Chinese rug design is influenced primarily by Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucius. Chinese designs are extremely literal compared to other Oriental rugs; most motifs used hold exact meanings. A popular symbol is the Shou character, which often features as a medallion and depicts long life. Symbols for luck are also seen on Chinese rugs. These include the Fu character, which means fortune, but also animals and insects like bats and butterflies which also represent luck.

Dragons symbolise authority and power, while the Phoenix stands for happiness and peace. Fish on Chinese rugs represent abundance, while Peonies symbolizes love, nobility, and wealth. Finally, a cloud displayed on rug denotes a wish.

The symbols on Chinese rugs often form part of an intricate pattern featuring multiple colours designed to complement each other. Rug owners lucky enough to have one of these impressive artworks must care for them correctly, as even the build-up of dust can see a rug’s design become less defined and its colours dull.

When you need professional rug cleaning in Essex, we can help. As experts in Chinese rug care, you can trust the Rug Cleaning Studio for a complete and conscientious service.

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