Oriental Carpets

Milton Cater Oriental Carpets

specialising in old and antique rugs     Since 1974
Oriental Carpets


Articles - Newsletter

Pure Cognition

We look at an old carpet made under the original conditions and we see a complexity of design. Symbols of flora and fauna and spirits dense with subjectivity. The eye recognises the presence of colour. Perceptions change and the attentive consciousness shifts from the measurable world to the immeasurable as the design is seen to become less and less important, a simple construct, a value judgement, even meaningless xenophobic bigotry, and, finally a vehicle for colour alone. Only colour has a life of it’s own and only colour can speak directly - the designs are merely the script. The arrangement of colour then allows the carpet to release it’s inner self. This is the point at which we can feel what it is to actually be human, elevated to our essential humanity, in contact with the carpet’s makers and the archaic heart at the bottom of us all.

This is pure cognition - seeing with the heart!

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India - The Textile Tourist

  • The Calico Museum is famous for it's textile holdings but it's off the beaten track, slap in the middle of a modern bustling Indian city - although Ahmedabad is the starting point to tour India's prime textile state - Gujerat. At Patan to the north is one of only two places in India where the incredible warp and weft Ikat tradition continues. The other is Potchampali, east of Hyderabad in the Deccan.

  • On the way up to Patan or coming down from Rajasthan is the centre of the juggernaut worship and home to the intricately sewn bead pictures. From Patan to the North West one can visit Barmeer, home of the finest and most restrained embroidery in distinctive red and green. Continue to the camel market at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. all within a few hours driving of each other - only don't drive yourself.

  • The West of Gujerat is an intrepid textile hunters dream with bands of nomadic Bheel, and Bangara, moving freely. the maharani of Bhuj museum, at Bhuj in Kutchch has the most sublime embroidered saphs hung all the way round the rooms. from Bhuj it is a short drive to Khavda, home of awsome mixed technique household textiles. Of course Iran and Afghanistan and their varied cultural influences are not far away.

  • Salar Jang was the Nizam of hydrabad's chief minister and travelled to Europe with a bottomless chequebook befitting the richest man in the world. Fashionable and expensive were his criteria and one can see the fruits his buying trips in the eponymous museum today. Apart from dusty roman marbles the Indian collection is a lot of fun because it was actually used by the court not collected as art. 18th centurty fully embroidered kashmir shawls, metal thread palanquins, rich punjabi jat phulkari ( the word means money), breathtaking kutchch floral embroidery, surat and benares brocades, the most sheer, amazing, really, company period dacca muslins, 200 years of royal chogas......etc, etc.

  • The prince of Whales museum, Mumbhai, is right in Colaba the tourist hub and a short walk from the Arabian sea. it's textile holdings include patolu sarees, the warp and weft ikat textile that influenced the whole of se Asia, Uzbek Afghan and NW Indian suzanis (they didn't all come from Uzbekistan and the variations are discernable), early kashmir shawls, dacca muslins and some outstanding south indian block printing on cotton from the 14th century....etc.

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The Ziegler Carpet

Years ago we specialists were so precious; “we’ll never deal in new rugs” we used to pontificate, as we watched traditions decline. Little did we know that circumstances would produce a renaissance in quality home-based carpet weaving by people with the culture and traditions. This could be considered to be the upside of all the strife, wars and droughts, endured by these property and livestock-rich graziers.

The Ziegler type began in the 19th.Century at a time when English companies had carpets made to copy the old Persians. These were typically knotted en masse from a graph paper cartoon and used machine prepared worsted wool and the newly discovered chemical factory colours. With their simple primary colours and stiff, finely wrought Milliefiore designs they were increasingly seen as a product of the Industrial Revolution especially as the weaver was reduced to being little more than a machine copying from the graph.

A desire to go back to carpets made by the weavers as artists was spearheaded by Mr and Mrs Ziegler of Manchester whose firm supported hand spinning and vegetable dyeing and a more sophisticated tertiary palette. Weaving returned to the home and away from the manufactories that still typify most of eastern carpet weaving. Mrs Ziegler would also have 2sq.m. “wagireh” samplers made so the weavers could interpret and copy the designs by eye rather than being hamstrung by a graphed cartoon.

So the Ziegler became a type, never a traditional ethnic tribal rug, but the best of commercial weaving. Now there are Egyptian Zieglers, Chinese and Indian Zieglers, even Ikea Zieglers! The people who own the sheep and the means of production make our Afghan Zieglers in their homes and they are the best of the current generation. Antique Zieglers are considered the pinnacle of decorative carpets and achieve record prices when they come to auction.

There are old pictures of the indominatable Mrs Ziegler and baggage train porters traipsing on horseback across the mountains with dye samples, and wagirehs, etc.

Please enjoy your Ziegler carpet, don’t be too precious as it is washable and virtually indestructible. Take it on a picnic, sweep but don’t vacuum it too much, and wear it upside down for about a week a year.

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Care of Oriental Carpets

  • Preferably sweep with a stiff straw broom. Vacuum only lightly in direction of the pile, not against the grain.
  • Turn and use upside down every spring for a fortnight.
  • Move furniture a few centimetres every few months.
  • Spills; wipe or scrape excess. Sponge with cold water but not to excess. May use suds from a eucalyptus wool wash to sponge. Always sponge inwards. Lift and turn over wet area till dry.
  • Never leave a carpet on the floor wet. Never put pot plants on the carpet.
  • Call us! 02 66872424


Enjoy your Oriental Carpets and Rugs. Don’t be too precious as our rugs are pure top grade wool and virtually indestructible. There are many antique rugs still going strong today. Remember just stay natural, no modern chemical cleaners or machines.

Return the rugs to us for a complete wash when necessary or about every 5 years.


PS Some rugs enjoy a picnic!


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