July 24, 2024

Tiger Rugs: Historical mark and value

Despite the name, tiger rugs are not made from real tiger skins. Really! Tibetans have been honoring the tiger for hundreds of years, decorating their homes with woven depictions of this majestic animal to attract its benevolent spirit. With only about 200 antique rugs believed to be in existence today, owning a genuine one is a rare privilege.

Tibetan weavers who have relocated to Nepal produce rugs of the greatest possible hand-woven quality.  It is made using Tibetan wool, which is known for both its gloss and its softness. The entire procedure for these is carried out by hand from start to finish. After being colored, carded, and spun into yarn, the wool is finally braided utilizing the distinctive Tibetan knot. The end product is a rug that is luxuriously plush due to the high number of knots per inch, which is exactly one hundred. Each rug requires approximately a month’s worth of labor from a single artist.

Tiger Rugs have always been valued belongings, not just things to be sold for evil money. Surprisingly, the Newark Museum only acquired the first tiger rug in the west in 1979.

It’s safe to assume that most people don’t typically think of tigers when they envision Tibet. However, there is strong evidence that tigers may have lived in Tibet at an earlier time if they were present one hundred years ago. Tiger rugs have been discovered in Khotan, in the Taklamakan Basin, to the north, and tigers are still present in Siberia, which is even further north. A Caspian Sea tiger previously existed, but it is now extinct. Yet the Himalayas are undoubtedly still home to tigers.

It is known that lamas in their monasteries received tiger rugs as gifts.

Tantric meditation is connected to tiger carpets. A frequent motif in Tibetan art is of Yogins meditating on tiger skins. To keep scorpions, snakes, and other insects away while the person was meditating, the tiger skin theme was believed to protect them.

For Tibetan rulers and other powerful people, tiger skins served as a symbol of their status. The tiger represented power, fury, and valor. Tiger pelts and rugs were used to embellish ritual thrones. Warriors wore tiger skins, and painted tigers adorned their graves. The gods were often shown riding tigers.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Dalai Lama is the presence of stripes on the legs, similar to those found on tigers. There are clear parallels to be seen between the Buddhist preference for the color orange and the predominance of the color orange in these rugs.

The tiger design was used in different contexts to provide security, such as when it was carved into the stonework that flanked the entrance to the White Palace in Lhasa.

The magnificent rugs that come from Tibet are all woven by hand, and the face of the tiger on each one serves as the maker’s hallmark. Each rug is hand-knotted from one hundred percent wool and is one of a kind; tigers’ faces and body styles vary from one another and may differ from the example seen in the photo.

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