Nothing seemed more natural, or desirable, than frolicking on a tiger hid with a bottle of wine when a certain poem was written a century ago. Social mores in our day, on the other hand, frown on such behavior.
And rightfully so, for the tiger is a magnificent creature, and shooting one seems like committing a holy crime, made more sense by the fact that there are now only 3,000 species of tigers left today, compared to over 100,000 ways back in the century.
Tibetan Tiger Rugs are somewhat a puzzle to solve. There are just a few hundred on Tibetan Tiger rugs in existence, and very little are known about them. Nonetheless, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the tiger rug is slowly becoming a design trend in the current rug business. Many handwoven Tibetan rug manufacturers, virtually all of whom are based in Nepal, are rapidly expanding their tiger patterns, and increasing production. The heavenly fashion wheel has now begun turning.
Tiger rugs were always seen as cherished keepsakes, not commodities to be sold for a pittance. Surprisingly, the first tiger rug was acquired by the Newark Museum in 1979, and it arrived in the west just a few years later.
We believe it is fair to say that most people do not think of Tibet when they first think of tigers. However, research has shown that tigers used to be found all throughout Asia, with a variety of sub-species. There is every reason to assume that tigers may have lived in Tibet at some point in the past. Tiger carpets have been discovered in Khotan and in the Taklamakan Basin towards the north, and tigers can still be found in Siberia. A Caspian Sea tiger also previously existed but is it now extinct. And tigers are also found around the Himalayas.
Lamas were known to have received tiger carpets as presents at their monasteries. Tantric Meditation is associated with tiger rugs. In Tibetan art, meditation yogins on tiger pelts are also a popular theme. The tiger skin pattern was supposed to protect the wearer while meditating by inducing wrath, which kept snakes, scorpions, and other creatures at the bay.
Tibetan rulers and senior leaders used tiger pelts as a symbol of authority. The tiger was an emblem of power, courage, and ferocity. Tiger carpets and pelts decorated their ritual thrones. Warriors also wore tiger fur and had painted tigers on their gravestones. Ancient gods were often portrayed as tigers as well.