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Art and Architecture

Rugs and Carpets

saddlebags, wall hangings, floor coverings, tapestry, Carpets

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Rugs and Carpets, heavy fabrics commonly made of wool and used as floor coverings. A rug differs from a carpet in that it is usually woven in one piece and can be of any size but usually does not cover an entire floor.

The term rug is derived from the Scandinavian word rugga by way of the old Norwegian word rogg, which meant a wool covering for the bed or body. For several centuries in Europe, the term rug denoted a rough, heavy woolen fabric characterized by a coarse, napped finish and used as apparel by the poorer classes.

The term carpet was used originally to describe coverings for tables, beds, and other furniture, and only from the early 18th century was it associated with the floor. The modern usage is imprecise and includes all woven floor coverings and some textiles, such as wall hangings, furniture coverings, and saddlebags, made with a knotted pile or woven like a tapestry. The word carpet is ultimately derived from the Latin carpere, ”to pluck or seize,” thus implying a plucking of wool or carding of wool fibers, and reflects the fact that for centuries wool has been used in making carpets.


Rogers, Donna Coates, M.A.

Former Instructor of Art History, Columbia College and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Article key phrases:

saddlebags, wall hangings, floor coverings, tapestry, Carpets, Rugs, Europe, wool, textiles, centuries, century, beds, bed, apparel, body, fact, size, tables, piece, finish, way

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