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Thread: What are those?
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Old May 1st, 2012, 01:48 AM   #59
Jeff Sun
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 23


While I enjoyed Hans Bidder's work, we must consider the following:

1. He really was a connoisseur of rugs from Xinjiang and not those woven in Eastern China.

2. He was a relatively early writer (1964) and so perhaps his resources were not the best, living in China at an even earlier time when travel was hard and literature scattered.The first 76 years of the 20th century were hell on China.

3. We run a-foul of the question "What is a Chinese Rug?" Is it only one woven by Han Chinese hands? What about Ningxia and Inner Mongolian rugs, which are rife with Chinese symbols and character, but woven by ethnic Hui or Mongols? And so on...

Consider that later researchers and authors disagree with Bidder.

1. Near Bidder contemporary H.A. Lorentz, discusses Ming rugs on pages 78-81 of his book A View of Chinese Rugs from 1972. Noting that they are Rare with a capital R. (One would expect otherwise?) He shows several examples of likely Ming rugs on pages 107 and 108.

2. Murray Eiland maintains in Chinese and Exotic Rugs from 1979, pg 13, that the Yuan dynasty established rug factories in the north of Beijing, but declines that the Ming maintained the business.

3. Rostov and Jia Guanyan in Chinese Carpets, pgs 62-63, from 1983 maintain again that rugs were made in government workshops during the Yuan in Beijing, and during the Ming, in Ningxia.

4. Lu Hong Qi- Sporting quite the patriotic name (Red Flag Lu) and poorly translated English text, maintains on page 16 of Antique Rugs of China, 2004, that rug working workshops were established in Beijing in 1298, quoting the Chinese text, Da Yuan Zhan Gong Wu Ji. On page 18, he maintains that the Yuan workshops were taken over by the Ming. If the workshops were established in 1298, that's a solid 70 years of carpet making before the fall of the Yuan in 1368. Potentially, that's a lot of rugs!

As an aside...I find it hard to believe that ALL of these texts are so OLD. Why are there no more recent books on my shelves?

Therefore, Bidder aside, three of four sources agree that there were rugs made during the Yuan Dynasty and three of four sources agree that rugs were made during the Ming.

So based on these, we could say there is sufficient scholarship to show continuous rug making in the broader sense of China ,(Ningxia, Beijing, Baotao) since the Yuan, and examples with Ming character if not outright attribution, survive until today.

As to Bidder's theory that Chinese Furniture led to the non-adoption of the rug, I can not believe it entirely, although surely it might not help their popularity. Why? Because rugs in China are often used outside the household.

1. Equestrian rugs are common. Saddle rugs from Ningxia, Baotao and Beijing are often seen
2. Rugs are often used for pillows and cushions. I have seen them as cushions for seats for example. I remember seeing one in a very wierd shape(no corners) and asking the dealer what it was for. His reply: It was for a rickshaw bench.
3. Sometimes rugs are meant for the wall (what better place?) and Baotao landscapes are often put to this use.
4. They are sometimes used in temples, of course.

I open it up for further debate. This is both fun and informative.

Last edited by Jeff Sun; May 1st, 2012 at 02:17 PM.
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