Fabulous indigo blue antique Chinese rug. These are sometimes labeled as Peking carpets but more commonly referred to as Nichols’ era Art Deco rugs.
The rug displays an elegant, serene and balanced combination of plants, vines, flowers, vases, birds, & traditional Buddhist and Chinese icons and symbols. The blue birds on the interior field are carrying banners or flags in their beaks.
This large 1920s — 1930s antique Chinese rug has some scattered areas of wear on the wool pile. The side cords and fringes show wear as well. There are a couple of tiny tears (1-2 inches) on one side of the rug, which have been repaired.
Natural wool on cotton warp. Exact size is 11 ft. 8 in. by 9 ft. 4 in.
There is some corrosion in small areas of the brown dye, possibly due to an iron oxide pigment. This takes many decades to show up and leaves the wool slightly embossed (shown in CU photos).
The rug has been professionally WASHED and is ready to use. (The rug has excellent dyes that do not ‘bleed’ when washed.)
Despite the age and wear, the rug remains quite solid and can be used normally on the floor.
Nichols’ carpets and their kin are well known for their resilience to wear, tear, and the vicissitudes of time. Several of the photos show the wear in closeup. This is a perfect rug for someone comfortable with an antique artwork that shows use, but has aged gracefully.
The term Art Deco refers to the style launched at the 1925 Paris World’s Fair Exhibition of Modern and Industrial Decorative Art.
Art Deco rugs introduced a broader color palette into Chinese rugs. A more open field with less cluttered elements became popular.
Because of its low production costs, China became the hub for weaving Art Deco rugs exported to the States. There were hundreds of factories producing rugs but it was two enterprising Americans who dominated: Helen Fette and Walter Nichols. Little did they know their names would become synonymous with the term and virtually all rugs woven during that era, which ran from the mid 1920s to around 1935.
In 1924 Walter Nichols opened the doors of his venture, Nichols Super Yarn and Carpets in Tientsin, North China. Super Yarn because of the machine spun yarn, the strong cotton used for the foundation, and the overall tightly packed weave of the rugs.
Because Fette and Nichols were so closely associated with the Deco period, rugs woven in their trademark style, absent any identification marks, are routinely referred to as Fette or Nichols style.
No other Oriental rugs are as representative of their time as the Chinese Decos. The dynamics of the designs and the colors used are hallmarks of the era. It was a time of experimentation with abstract forms and unrestrained colors. The style arrived energetically but was cut short due to the Great Depression. The few remaining factories were destroyed when Japan invaded China during World War II.
Walter Nichols is the best known manufacturer of these Chinese rugs, but other companies were weaving very similar high quality rugs for the American home in the 1920s and 1930s. They are highly collectible today and noted for their ironclad durability. (One jaundiced rug ‘expert’ lamented that they are difficult to eradicate because they are virtually indestructible.)
“The Nichols name has come to be used almost synonymously with the ‘Chinese deco’ rugs manufactured in Tientsin in the 1920s and 1930s. Nichols did not originate the Chinese deco style, but he did a great deal to popularize it and to maintain its high standards of manufacture.”
Of course, after the expanded Japanese invasion of China in 1937, the enlargement of the Second World War, and then the Communist Revolution in mainland China in 1949, the era of the Nichols’ rugs ended. However, they continued to exert an influence on rug production in the People’s Republic of China.
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