Chinese and Tibetan Rugs – Exotic Wool Area Rugs

Article Written By Nena | Category: Oriental Rugs

Chinese rugs and Tibetan Rugs are not at all the same thing, although they are often sold through the same dealers or spoken of in the same breath.

Chinese Rugs

While some Chinese area rugs may resemble Persian rugs, there are some very distinctive styles like the carved Peking or Beijing designs that feature areas with raised or high pile and others that are low shorn pile to create a multidimensional effect. This is especially true for the Chinese floral rugs that are usually pastel, however there also stark red, black, navy, and emerald greens that form part of the 1930’s Art Deco patterns that remain popular and also the French Aubusson designs that the Chinese have perfected for export.

chinese rug

The Chinese have much more silk carpet and area rugs than the Persians and also than the Tibetans, in fact large wool carpets are not thought to have been an integral part of Chinese culture until quite recently, since there were no looms for wool rug making until the mid 1800’s.

Chinese wool rug making has really only flourished since the 1930’s, and mostly after 1949 when Hong Kong and other centers began more vigorous international trade. There are very few records of Chinese carpet or rugs, but it is thought that most rug activity was centered in the north-west area of Xinjiang, however, what is known is that the nomads created Chinese area rugs mostly from a kind of heavy felt, or a soft silk or a tough camel wool and borrowed from Mongolian and Tibetan motifs and expertise.

chinese zodiak rug

Nowadays, the Chinese rug and carpet industry is large because they manufacture all the styles that are traditionally Oriental, which include Turkish, Persian, and middle Eastern Islamic designs. They also tend to incorporate their own Chinese, Buddhist and Taoist symbols into area rug creations because in general motifs to the Chinese are not purely decorative, they are emblematic and propitious often depicting symbols of longevity, prosperity and luck.

Floral motifs are reminiscent of those used traditionally in Chinese art in the hopes of the early arrival of spring, and animal renditions of symbols from Chinese Astrological signs, like the tiger, the dragon and the phoenix, may lend a traditional note to carpet design.

Peking Beijing Chinese Rugs

Also there are many rugs that depict horses, bats and fish since they have meaning beyond their mere decorative appeal.

Red, imperial yellow, jade green and Ming vase blue are some of the colors to be found in these wool carpet creations.

round red chinese rug

There are also many round area rug choices in Chinese carpet designs, more so than square and rectangular ones because a round rug to Buddhist may symbolize the eternal circular motion of life and cycles and also have fewer edges that would be in keeping with feng shui that does not obstruct or inhibit the flow of energy.


If you are looking for cheap rugs in contemporary styles, art deco, red area rug designs, or even modern abstract concepts, the Chinese contemporary rugs manufacturers have a lot to offer.

Discount area rugs are the specialty of many Asian dealers, and they need not have traditional motifs. Some very modern area rugs at some very affordable prices await you online.

Tibetan Rugs

What makes Tibetan rugs incredible is their color, their knotting, their unusual motifs and high mountain Himalayan wool.

hand made tibetan rug

Similar to the Chinese carpets and rugs, Tibetan rug making is an ancient art form that seemed to not have needed mentioning in ancient texts. However, unlike the Chinese, there is extensive evidence that traditional Tibetan rugs have been made for thousands of years from changpel, the Tibetan high mountain sheep’s wool. What also differentiates these rugs is the way in which they are made with a uniquely Tibetan hand tied knot that is not the same as the knotting used in Persian or other Oriental or Asian area rugs.

Although there are machines who now do much of the work, rug making is one of Tibet’s main industries that continues to this day. The looms and weaving and rug workshops were most notable in Gyantse, and the monasteries throughout Tibet were weel known for making and using rugs. It is sad that many of the Lhasa rug factories are now exclusively dedicated to tourists and Chinese dignitaries or to be sent to China. There are however some uniquely Tibetan rugs such as the sitting rugs known as khaden.

Real tiger skins and tiger motif (the ultimate animal print wool shag area rugs) are also part of traditional Tibetan rugs. These come from Tibetan Buddhist gods who are often shown with tiger skin clothing and therefore the rugs took this form and served to protect those who were deep in meditation.

Tibetan Khaden

Tibetan Wangden rugs from south of Shigatse, may have a large fringe and some are runners that were once used on long benches where the monks sat.


Today it is difficult to buy TRUE Tibetan handmade wool rug that are lanolin oily and of high quality because there are primarily Chinese government run factories in Lhasa that make classic designs for the tourists in cheap area rugs that imitate the real thing. There are also a few foreign run factories that are trying to re-established ancient methods and traditional vegetable dyes and use hand techniques for authentic natural rugs, but just can’t make a large scale profitable enterprise from it yet and are far from being known internationally.


If you are searching for true hand made, genuine natural area rugs from real Tibetan weavers, then take the time to find a real one instead of supporting Chinese factory Tibetan knockoffs.

There are wool area rugs online that support these small Tibetan entrepreneurs (sometimes in conjunction with Nepalese dealers) and offer to send you their creations anywhere in the world you may be.

senior lama tibetan rug

The ultimate contemporary area rugs you can buy are those that support a weaver’s life today and allow them to expand their techniques and designs for tomorrow.

Consider having your next rugs runner be a long one made in a monetary in the style of those that covered their benches, or decorate your home or office with area carpets and rugs that sustain a people who struggle to maintain their heritage and their arts even while they may be in exile in Nepal.

You may find something at a place called karmacarpets, or perhaps you can try tamarian or tibetrugcompany or toranahouse, or artelino amongst others who support the Tibetan wool area rug trade and have some magnificent traditional and contemporary rugs in many shapes and colors touched by the fingers of the talented Tibetan people.

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