Large rug hunting

The details in the design of this rug are amazing and well worth a closer look. They include huntsmen on horseback, wild boar, deer and hounds. It was called ‘The Hunting Rug’ by its manufacturers, Quayle and Tranter of Kidderminster. Designed by George Bain the rugs sold very well. 

In the late 1940s George Bain was approached by the carpet maker Quayle & Tranter Limited to provide some Celtic designs suitable for rugs. This became a very productive collaboration. Bain was soon taken on as a consultant as well as designer. Not all of the designs that he provided were actually put into production. However, the rug shown here is the most successful of those that were. 

Initially, in March 1948, Bain delivered the hunting design for a rug 6 feet by 3 feet in size (around 1.8m by 0.9m). Later that year he supplied a second design for increasing the size of the rug to 12 feet by 9 feet (around 3.65m by 2.75m), the one shown here. He used the same motifs but cleverly incorporated more of them into a very pleasing, balanced and more symmetrical design. 

There are rugs of both sizes and two different colourways in the Collection.

See Tattersall CEC 1966 A History of British Carpets, from the introduction of the craft until the present day

Preparing a rag rug

It is hard to imagine the length of this piece of hessian – it’s over 2m long. Each four-part square of angular knotwork is more than 30cm in size, an ideal scale for a rag rug.  There’s a photograph of one of George Bain’s adult students working on a similar rag rug design in publicity for his College of Celtic Cultures in Drumnadrochit. He encouraged local people to create their own Celtic artwork and apply it to craftwork such as embroideries, knitwear, rugs, and wooden objects.

Two different knotwork designs are used, drawn out in blue wax crayon. Both are reminiscent of the angular knotwork of the Ulbster Pictish stone, a favourite of George Bain’s. Over the short sides of the hessian, the four-armed cross at the centre of each pattern is coloured red. Perhaps this is a clue to the final colour of the rug.