In the 16th Century, the primary purpose of fine Traditional rugs were to beautify the palaces and castles of royal families and aristocrats. Europeans became familiar with the art of rug making through the importation of hand-knotted rugs, in particular those that came from Persia. During the rise of Persia's Safavid Dynasty, rug designers were commissioned to create new and very intricate designs for Safavid rulers. Rug designers began using new curvilinear motifs, which inspired the creation of the many magnificent masterpieces for which the dynasty is known.
This tradition of rug-making became the model for centuries to come. What we recognize today as Traditional Persian rugs, Antique Persian rugs, Turkish rugs, Antique Turkish rugs, and Antique Oushak carpets pre-19th Century were all created during the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Many traditional rugs have jewel-toned colors, predominantly shades of red and blue, in brilliant tones and more saturated color palettes. As traditional carpets age their colors often become softer, which results in more variation in their tones, typically referred to as Abrash. This is primarily caused by different densities of dyes throughout different batches of wool.
In the later part of the 19th Century some European companies took further interest in the Persian and Turkish rugs. They sought to adapt this beautiful art form to the European market and production of these carpets increased. One of these companies was Ziegler & Co., a multinational company that was involved in exporting chemicals and other commodities to Persia. Ziegler & Co., like many other companies, set up looms in central Persia, drew new designs from old ones, and altered the color palettes.
This point in time is thought of as the beginning of Decorative rug-making. It focused on rugs as decorative items, made to enhance a room as well as work well with other decor items such as drapery, fabric, wallpaper, etc. Nowadays, Traditional rugs are produced using the designs of the past, sometimes with a twist or change in color combinations to make them more adaptable to current trends in fashion and decorating. These new rugs and Antique Reproduction rugs are inspired by the designs of Tabriz, Kashan, Sultanabad, Oushak, Agra, and Amritsar carpets, as well as the Antique Caucasian designs such as Kazak, Shirvan, etc.