Only during the past century have oriental rugs become valued throughout the world as works of art. Collectors often justify their attraction to these handcrafted oriental rugs by explaining that they wish to own a small piece of the rich and colourful history behind this art form. The works have the ability to transform interiors into extraordinary spaces. It remains unknown exactly at what point in time the first carpets were woven, but it is certain that the nomadic tribes of central Asia began the technique of knotting carpets.
The rearing of sheep (the prime source of carpet wool) is a traditional nomad occupation and because people of this period had to endure extreme cold, it is certain that the craft of weaving developed to replace the use of rough animal skins for warmth. For the nomad, rugs were both decorative and practical, serving as floor coverings and wall hangings, but also as curtains, door hangings and saddlebags. It was primarily through Italian merchants that Oriental rugs and carpets became recognised and valued in Europe. Venice established itself early as a major trading hub within the East. Venetians spread rugs along their narrow streets, hung the rugs from windows and used them to decorate their gondolas. By the early sixteenth century, fabulous carpets could be found in the great courts of Europe, including those of Catherine de' Medici and Charles V. The Lord Chancellor of England, Cardinal Wolsey, is reported to have purchased sixty Turkish carpets from a Venetian dealer to furnish his palace at Hampton Court.
After the great exhibition of 1891 in Vienna, Western interest in Oriental rugs began to increase; Western importers began asking carpet-makers to modify dimensions, colour and design to satisfy the tastes in Europe and the Americas.