Rug Origins: Egyptian Rugs

Al Ahram, Egypt


Early Egyptian rug weaving can be separated into two ages: the Mamluks and Ottomans. Egypt’s supreme period of rug weaving was during the rule of Mamluks from the fifteenth century until the early sixteenth century. Mamluk sultans were known for their abundant supporters of the Islamic arts and the era of their reign was reflected to be the apex of Islamic Art in Egypt. After the conquest of Ottoman Turks in 1517, the rugs took on more of Turkish influence and were known as Ottomans.

Egyptian Serapi rug from Arsin Rug Gallery. Use rug number 50306 for more info.

Mamluk rugs are particularly infrequent and are regarded to be some of the best carpets ever produced. Today, they are rare, kept mostly in museums and in private collections. Created through a three-color palette of gem-toned reds, blues, and greens, and featuring superb designs based on symmetrical shapes and natural leaf forms. The use of simple geometric forms repeated within circles and squares. Wool roots are unknown they do not seem to originate from bases in or near Cairo.

Ottoman carpets have a mixture of colors and designs similar to the gem-tone and symmetrical shapes found in Mamluk carpets. Designs using lancet leaves (saz), palmettos and pendants united with motifs of tulips, hyacinths, carnations, and pomegranates completed their distinction. Persian knots rather than the Turkish were used to give the carpets a particularly gorgeous and stylish design. Interesting is that they reflect an unsettled history of supremacy clashes among dozens of periods contributing their own stylistic distinctions.

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