Rug Origins: Scandinavian Rugs - Arsin Rug Gallery
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Rug Origins: Scandinavian Rugs

Hamnoy, Norway

Scandinavian rugs are rarely mentioned in the same breath as Persian and Oriental rugs but they’ve been around since the fourteenth century AD. They not only rival the beauty of old carpet favorites but also played a significant role in the cultural evolution of Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.

Turkish Influence

Like all popular things in ancient times, handwoven rugs were first introduced to Scandinavia by merchants who plied the trading routes to Anatolia, a region of Turkey that extended into the Asian continent. The carpets not only looked magnificent with all its colors and designs but were made of wool which is an excellent insulator. 

The Scandinavian region has one of the harshest climates in the region with brutal winters that lasted for months. The wool rugs were perfect for such weather and soon everyone began using them as blankets and hung on walls to keep homes warm. The rug trade became a lucrative endeavor that lasted for centuries until Scandinavians began weaving their own carpets.

At first, the rugs they made followed the Turkish style of weaving which made sense since everyone was familiar with their designs. But by fourteenth century AD, Scandinavian weavers were able to successfully develop their own distinct rug called Rya. It was made by using long and shaggy piles purposely designed for the extreme cold. Slowly, people began using them instead of the Oriental pieces and thus began the rise of Scandinavian rugs.

Ryas and Rollakan Rugs 

Apart from providing insulation and protection from the harsh icy weather, the Rya also became an important symbol for Scandinavian culture. Locals began using them in wedding ceremonies where weavers customized them with initials of the bride and groom as well as the date of the ceremony. Soon, wedding Rya rugs became a tradition and more elaborate designs were produced. 

In the late 1800s, the fame of Scandinavian rugs spread all throughout Northern Europe and a new style of rug was created called the Rollakan. Unlike the Rya, it’s flatly woven and infused with lavish tapestry patterns. These two distinct rugs made a huge splash in the carpet world which attracted the attention of designers in the United States and every major city in Europe. 

Today, Scandinavian rugs are highly sought after for its rich color variations and unique geometric designs. With so many homeowners and interior designers going for modern themes, it’s not surprising that these carpets are on top of everyone’s rug wishlists.         

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