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How Things Have Changed: The Evolution of Rug Weaving

We work with some of the world’s best rugs every single day, which means it’s easy to forget how this all began. The high quality rugs we take for granted today would have been near priceless even just a few hundred years ago, but thanks to improved manufacturing processes, they’re available to everyone. So to remember how it all began, here’s how rug weaving has evolved.

The very beginnings of weaving

Before we even consider the idea of a rug, we need to travel back almost 13,000 years to the Neolithic era. Commonly referred to as the stone age, evidence suggests that our ancestors who lived in this time actually knew how to weave. This wasn’t anything like the textile weaving we have today, but there are plenty of examples of woven branches, sticks, and vines that people used to construct shelters and tools. This was the very beginning of weaving as we know it.

China and the silk worm

As far back as 3500 BC, historical evidence shows that people living in China had begun to use the silk from silk worm cocoons to create basic yarn. This was then woven and dyed to create sometimes highly intricate fabrics. From this point, weaving only grew in popularity, spreading to countries such as Korea and Japan over the next few centuries. In roughly 700 AD, evidence of rudimentary looms began to be used, usually basic horizontal or vertical looms. This practice became commonplace in Asia, Africa, and finally Europe and the Americas.

The exponential boom in weaving

As time went on, weaving only grew in popularity. By the 9th Century, Europe was inundated with new forms of fabric created by increasingly complex weaving looms. Around this time, wool was the most popular fibre, due mainly to its ease of production – the very same reason that it’s still so popular today. By the 14th Century, the world saw a boom in population, and mechanisms like spinning wheels became available. From here, it was just a few centuries until John Kay invented the world’s first mechanical weaving machine – the flying shuttle – in 1733.  As the Industrial Revolution took hold, the role of the weaver was phased out, becoming more of a luxury than a necessity. Machine looms are still used today for mass production, but hand-tufting is likewise a very popular technique in modern rug creation.

Want to see how this history of weaving has led to some of the world’s highest quality rugs? Explore our online rug shop now and discover the softest, most luxurious fabrics you’ll ever experience. Have a question? Call the team today on 0845 838 8638.



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