Oushak rugs are traditional Turkish rugs named after the city where it originated from. These rugs originated in Oushak, one of the larger cities located in Western Anatolia in Turkey.
Western Anatolia was a major rug producing region starting from the early days of the Ottoman Empire up until the early 20th century.
Oushak are still produced in this region. They are also known as Usak rugs. Although Oushak rugs originated in Turkey, today Pakistan has emerged as a main producer of these gorgeous hand-knotted rugs.
What Makes A True Oushak Rug
A true Oushak rug has very distinctive features that set them apart from other hand-woven rugs and make them easy to identify.
Oushak rug weavers go through great lengths to source only the highest quality luminous, silky wool for their creations. This wool is hand spun resulting in the famed super soft quality.
The wool is dyed using only natural dyes. A lot of thought goes into choosing the dye so that the combination of colors used in the rug matches well with popular colors used in furnishing fabric. As the rug ages, the colors acquire a mellow patina that makes it even more desirable with rug collectors.
Another distinguishing characteristic of these rugs is the perfect balance between the motifs and the use of open space. The patterns are reminiscent of antique Persian and Turkish rugs. The pile is trimmed low, which highlights the patterns and designs beautifully.
The timeless patterns, earth tone hues and antique look have contributed to the undying popularity of Oushak rugs among rug lovers all over the world.
How Oushak Rugs Are Woven
Oushak rug weavers are highly skilled. They start learning traditional, artistic knotting techniques from the earlier generations from a very young age. Over the years, they master these techniques and go on to use them to produce unique rugs.
Foundation And Pile
The pile of Oushak rugs is always made of wool, while the foundation is almost always made up of cotton. The cotton foundation gives the rugs their stability while also making them more durable. The wool pile gives the rugs their famed soft, lush, luxurious look and feel.
The wool for the pile as well as the cotton for the foundation are sourced, treated and dyed by the weavers themselves. This gives them total control over how their finished rugs look and feel. The weavers source the wool from their own herd of sheep. They then wash the wool and hand-spin it into fine yarn. This yarn is then dyed using purely natural dyes made from parts of assorted plants and vegetables available in the surrounding areas. When the dyed yarn is dried, it is used to create the magnificent Oushak rugs that we see today.
Design And Motifs
Oushak rugs are easily recognized by their hallmark star and medallion pattern. However, this is no way means that all Oushaks have the same design. Innovative workshops use their creativity to design unique variations of the star and medallion pattern. This has resulted in Oushak rugs featuring endless variations of the basic pattern, each one completely unique from all others.
Around the end of the 19th century, the designs underwent a couple of shifts in keeping with changing trends both in Persian and Europe. The first change was the introduction of floral patterns in Persian rugs. As Oushak rugs were heavily influenced by Persian design trends, weavers began to incorporate floral patterns into Oushak rug designs.
The second change was the creation of room size rugs, which was something European preferred over smaller sizes. Interestingly, weavers managed to change the designs to be more suitable to modern trends while also retaining the traditional aesthetics.
Oushak rugs can essentially be classified into four distinct categories based on their predominant pattern and color. The four groups are: Medallion Oushak Rugs, Starry Oushak Rugs, Bird Oushak Rugs, and Holbein and Lotto Oushak Rugs.
4 Types Of Oushak Rugs
Medallion Oushak Rugs
The field of a Medallion Oushak rug typically features a central medallion surrounded by geometric motifs and framed by quarter medallions in the four corners. The insides of the motifs as well as the area between the motifs are filled with a variety of small ornamental patterns. These could be in the form of miniature stylized medallions, sprays of palmettes or vine scrolls, or compositions featuring animal and human figures.
In these rugs, the central medallion symbolizes infinity. The arrangement of the motifs and the colors used always recreate a total effect that is elegant and sophisticated while exuding warmth and comfort – an unbeatable combination. In some variations, these rugs have angular large-scale floral patterns.
The Corner Medallion is a variation of the Medallion design. In this type of rug, a variety of floral elements adorn the main Tree Of Life design. The spike of the flowers represents the dragon, which symbolizes fertility.
Starry Oushak Rugs
Starry Oushak Rugs predominantly feature octagonal star motifs that symbolize deeper meanings such as birth, the renewal of the universe, and life in peace. A distinctive feature of Starry Oushak rugs is that these rugs do have a medallion indicating the center of the rug.
Instead, the stars are connected to one another in an endless pattern, which emphasizes the meanings of the motifs and the overall theme of the rugs – birth and renewal.
Starry Oushak rugs are generally medium sized. They typically featured red medallions on a field of blue or blue medallions on a field of red
Bird Oushak Rugs
Bird Oushak rugs almost always feature a field made up of very light colors, usually white or a very light cream shade. This light colored field is adorned with a variety of patterns including birds, leaves, and sprays of palmettes.
The main motif in fact is made up of leaves in various colors, mainly dark blue, red, and orange-yellow. However, the way the leaves are arranged on the ground gives the appearance of two leaves meeting each other. At first glance, this looks like a bird.
Holbein And Lotto Type Rugs
Holbein and Lotto rugs are named after two famous painters who were fascinated by the rugs and often featured them in their paintings.
Holbein rugs are often featured in the paintings of renowned German painter of the period, Hanz Holbein. Hanz Holbein was fascinated by the designs in which the dragon motifs designed as clouds formed the border of the rugs. The central area of these rugs feature a variety of motifs. The overall design symbolized the dragons of the border protecting life and fertility, which was depicted by the central motifs.
Lotto rugs feature an arabesque all-over design composed of assorted Tree of Life, dragon, and bird motifs. The motifs and designs represented immortality and eternity of the soul. The arabesque design is typically created on a red background.
These rugs were a particular favorite of 16th century Italian artist Lorenzo Lotto. Inspired by the elegance, beauty and sophistication of these arabesque designs, Lorenzo Lotto often used them as backdrops in his own paintings. The rugs later came be named after the painter.
Colors Of Oushak Rugs
Older Oushak rugs mainly consisted of deep, dark colors such as deep reds, blues, browns, and terracotta with little flecks of white or yellow. Weavers tended to use just three or four main colors that dominated the design of the rug. Red was typically used as the field color, which was decorated with brightly colored floral motifs.
With the production of commercial rugs that catered to Western tastes, the colors began to get a little muted. Washed and muted earth tones colors dominate the field. Including an abundance of terracotta tints, cinnamon, saffron, gold, ivory, and apricot often combined with light blues, greys, and greens.
One feature of Oushak rugs that has remained unchanged through the centuries is that the dyes are created from all natural materials. Synthetic materials and chemicals are never used to dye the pile.
The weavers themselves extracted the dye and colored the pile that they used in their creations. The dye is always extracted from materials such as stems, leaves, roots, and flowers of plants and trees found in the vicinity.
Oushak Rug Standard Sizes
Oushak rugs come in a wide range of sizes. Some of the more common sizes of these rugs are:
• 5 x 7 • 6 x 9 • 7 x 10 • 8 x 10 and 8 x 11 • 9 x 12 • 10 x 13,10 x 14 and larger
You can also find Oushak rugs in smaller sizes and runners for hallways.
5 Reasons Why Oushak Rugs Are Worth Buying
1. Oushak rugs are in high demand due to their excellent quality
There’s no denying the superb quality of these Oushak rugs. The Oushak rugs that originate from Afghanistan have retained the high quality that their Turkish counterparts are so famous for. This superior quality can be seen in every aspect of the rug, from the materials used and the knotting techniques to the colors and the finish of the rug.
2. Oushaks are generally known for their fine quality wool
The quality of the wool deserves another mention. The silky, luminous quality of the wool is what elevates Oushak rugs from great to legendary. These rugs provide a feeling of comfort and warmth underfoot and are popular for use in bedrooms, living rooms, dining room, and hallways.
Workshops in Pakistan working with Afghan rug weavers go out of their way to source soft, luminous wool for their creations. They never settle for second-best. This gives the rugs an exceptional sheen, luxuriousness and tactility that take the décor of any room to the next level. The choice of colors – terracotta, ivory, gold, saffron, cinnamons, and grays – work beautifully to highlight the luminosity of the wool.
3. Oushak rug weaving artistry has been passed down through generations
What makes Oushak rugs special, whether you buy a new or antique Oushak, the techniques and artistry will always be top quality. This is because over the centuries, till today, Oushak rug weavers use the same techniques that they’ve learned from the earlier generations. This is with regards to all aspects, from spinning and darn the wool, to the knotting techniques, designs, and color combinations.
Knowing that weavers have remained committed to their traditions in terms of quality has done much to instill confidence in anyone looking to buy an Oushak rug.
4. Oushak rugs classic color pallets go perfect with any setting especially for the modern home or office
When you buy an Oushak rug, chances are you won’t have to spend time trying to fit it into your particular décor style. The soft, sophisticated color palette used in these rugs makes them an elegant and versatile addition to any space no matter what the décor style. These rugs fit well with a wide range of styles, from bohemian and casual to traditional, contemporary and rustic.
In addition to being a good fit with all types of décor, the warm tones of the rugs work beautifully to add an extra element of warmth and comfort to the ambience.
5. Oushak rugs grand scale of design and motifs are highly desirable and decorative
Oushak rugs are one of the few types of rugs that easily combine various desirable elements. The grad, monumental scale of designs created using a combination of sophisticated colors results in finished rugs that are decorative yet comfortable.
You rarely see this remarkable combination in other types of hand-knotted rugs that typically compromise for the other. Oushak rug weavers have managed to navigate this line beautifully and incorporate both qualities in their creations.
The timeless patterns, earth tone colors, and antique look of Oushak rugs have contributed to their immense popularity that has not faded over the years.
Oushak rugs are definitely worth buying if you are looking for a hand-knotted rug that luminous and luxurious with a grand scale of design created in a sophisticated palette of colors.