Amish Rugs


Amish rugs, either loomed, braided, or hooked, add a spark of color to stark rooms and have become an extremely common vehicle for artistic expression with their floral and nature designs.

These rugs became popular among the Pennsylvania Dutch of Lancaster County in the 19th Century. Among the Amish, there was the interest for coverings for their polished wooded floors of their homes.

In 1860, the Amish church permitted the use of loomed carpets in the home. A little later, braided and hooked rugs also were permitted. Initially, these rugs were of plain colors and without the the use of stripes which were then fashionable among the other Pennsylvania German communities of Lancaster County.

Over time however, as the Amish church loosened its restrictions towards artistic expression used to decorate utilitarian products such as rugs, quilts, and dishes, designs and motifs became more colorful and elaborate.

Today, Amish braided rugs have become a virtual canvas where artisans can create expressions representative of the community and its values. Popular, motifs are flowers, animals, and other scenes of nature.

Today, braided and hooked rugs are almost universally popular among the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Without exception, Amish rugs are small in size, generally 24 x 42. Room-size rugs are virtually nonexistent. In rare case, miniature rugs are created to cover the treadle of a sewing machine or to serve as a chair or table mat.

Hooked rugs are made by stretching jute or burlap feed sacks on a wooden frame. A pattern is then drawn on the foundation. The pattern is then filled in with yarn or thread that is drawn through the burlap.

Making these small rugs is a slow and tedious process. It often takes as long as a quilt.

The rugs, like most Amish textile arts, reflect the values of the community. The majority of the materials tend to be salvaged from a previous usage. This reflects the Amish value of thriftiness. An example, is that worn garments and used feed sacks are usually converted into rugs.

The designs and patterns are shared among the community and reflect motifs and feelings that are deemed acceptable by the Ordnung and the code of the church.

Although overall designs tend to be similar among the community, individual express is manifest through color selections and variations in details of the basic pattern.

As mentioned before, Amish art tends to feature motifs of nature. The most common designs found on rugs are of flowers and animals. The flowers pictured are almost always petunias, pansies, forget-me-nots and roses.

Common animals depicted on amish rugs include horses, deer, doves, and swans.




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