The origin of carpet weaving in Europe is obscure, although some European countries did produce flat weaves and tapestries more than a thousand years before the introduction of pile carpets.
Evidence shows that Oriental carpets were first imported after 1000 AD, so the technique of pile-knotting would at least have been known if not immediately imitated.
The spread of pile carpets throughout Europe can be traced to the presence of the Moors in Spain, the Crusades (11th to 13th centuries), the travels of Marco Polo (1254 - 1324) and the embassies of Venice from the 13th century onwards. It was also helped by the colonial expansion of Portugal which began in the 14th century, with later settlements in the Persian Gulf (1509), Goa (1510) and Japan (1542) before the country was conquered by Philip II of Spain in 1580.
One of the oldest fragments of European pile carpets is preserved in the Schlosskirche at Quedlinburg in the Harz mountain region of what was formerly East Germany. This is a portion of a rug known to have been made in the time of the Abbess Agness (1186 - 1203) and which must have originally measured 24 feet by 20 feet. On it, we see rows representing scenes of Martianus Capella's Marriage of Mercury and Philology.
It was woven using the single knot like the one used in Spanish carpets, although no link with Spanish weavers has been determined.
In 1255 when Eleanor of Castile married Edward I of England, she brought with her many fine Spanish rugs, which are said to have come from Cordoba or Granada.
In most of England, however, rushes and hay were strewn as floor coverings, even in palaces and large houses up until the early 17th century. Some lords were even reported to have the hay rugs changed everyday. Paul Hentzer, a German traveler, wrote that he personally saw hay strewn on the floor of Queen Elizabeth's presence chamber at Greenwich Palace in 1598.
Gradually, the wealthier British started using pile rugs throughout their homes.
In old European paintings, all depicted floor coverings resemble Oriental carpets, which is not surprising since Europeans were importing Persian rugs long before they themselves learned the craft.
Many believe that Venice imported rugs from Asia Minor in the 15th century and that Europeans from all over preferred Oriental rugs. By the end of the 17th century, Persian and Turkish carpets were among the highest valued possessions in Europe. Kings and emperors would give silk Persian carpets to other political leaders as gifts to gain their ally or friendship.
By the mid 18th to 19th century almost all countries of Europe were weaving rugs of their own. The top producers were Spain, France, Poland, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Holland, Romania, as well as Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Today, handmade European rugs are rare as the industry cannot compete with the quality and cost of labor of Oriental rugs.
Instead, some European countries such as Belgium have developed significant machine-made rug industries, mainly after World War II.
Tips and Tricks for Storing Purses in Your Wardrobe We live in an age where women fantasize over owning a Fendi Baguette or hanker after a Hermes Birkin bag, and are willing to join a waiting list of five years for the privilege. Such is our obsession with handbags that purses have replaced shoes are objects of lust. Whether it be a tote, shoulder bag or clutch purse, many women today are obsessed with arm candy.
However, if you are the kind of person who throws everything in the bottom of your closet, including your precious Prada purse, then think again. Storing your bags and purses carefully will prolong the lives of these necessary accessories, keeping them in pristine condition and making your money go further.
Storing your Handbag
The handbags you use regularly need to be easily accessible, so store them on the top or side shelf in your closet, standing upright in a line. You can organize them by size, type or color. Place your bags on wardrobe shelves rather than on the floor, unless you are storing them in boxes.
One of the best ways to store handbags, just as with storing shoes, is to put them in plastic boxes or wicker storage baskets which allow air to circulate in the same way as a shoe box. This protects them from the elements, stops them being damaged, lets them breathe, and makes them easy to store/stack. Make sure the boxes are big enough so that you are not folding over the bag handles.
Any purses you don't use so often can be wrapped in cotton pillow cases or cloth storage bags. Do not put them in enclosed plastic dry cleaning bags, or boxes without air flow - they must be able to breathe.
If storing bags together make sure you cover any brass or mental chains, rings, studs and so on to stop them marking other bags. You can do this with a piece of tissue or cloth. Tuck chain handles inside the bag. This prevents the chain from scratching or marking the outside leather. Undo metal fastenings and buckles on straps so that they do not leave an impression.
To keep bags in proper shape you can stuff them with tissue paper or any alternative acid-free filling, but do not use old newspapers. Bubble wrap is better than tissue paper for padding out or wrapping bags as it doesn't attract moths in the same way as tissue paper.
Make space by clearing out your closet and deciding which pieces you are never likely to use again.
Caring for your Purse
If you are going to store purses for a long time then give them a thorough clean. "Empty every nook and cranny, vacuuming out the debris at the bottom," advises Cerentha Harris in her article "How to Sort Out Your Wardrobe", in Marie Claire,'s August 2007 Australian edition. Wipe the outside of your bag all over with a barely damp cloth and make sure that the bag is completely dry before you store it.
For leather bags, you can use commercial leather cleaner to give them a thorough cleanse. In her October 2006 eBay guide, "Storing and Caring for your handbag ? plus tips and tricks", eBay member 403 Halsey says "I have found a product at Walmart in the automotive section for leather seats. It actually smells like leather and rubs on like lotion. As stated on the bottle - test an area first to make sure it is compatible with your bag. This product cleans, conditions, and protects it against UV and heat."
Halsey also suggests that suede bags can be cleaned with a suede and nubuck cleaner available from shoe retailers or shoe sections of large stores. However, the article "How to care for your handbag," on the online shopping site SheFinds, advises against using any kind of treatment and just using a suede brush to reduce dust and grime.
If using an air freshener to freshen the inside of your bags, then make sure to choose one that has a natural smell such as vanilla rather then an artificial floral fragrance. Also you don't want the fragrance to be too strong, so consider keeping it in its wrapping and make small slits for the fragrance to escape.
A tip from Harris in her Marie Claire article is to place a saucer of baking powder on the floor at the back of your closet to absorb odors, should your storage space smell musty.
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