Located in the Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, Agra is most widely recognized for the Taj Mahal, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s mausoleum for his third wife. Less widely known is that it has also been a large center for rug weaving since the 16th century. When Agra first became the Mughal capital in 1566, so too did it establish its presence as a rug weaving center. Production of fine rugs continued here through the decline of the Mughal empire in the 17th century after which most Agra rugs were categorized as Indo-Isfahan weavings. Although later rugs do derive patterns from their predecessors, the changing style of Agra carpets can be most clearly seen during the British rule of the 19th and 20th centuries. Production ceased after the 1920s but resumed again in more recent times.
Since the end of the 19th century, carpets in India have been primarily woven to order and have been made with the finest quality in mind. Now, Agra carpets are considered some of the most decorative pieces internationally.
Agra rugs are difficult to classify as they vary in size, design, and composition. Although they often exhibit open fields with smaller medallions and guards, they can also be woven with all-over designs. Similarly, the fields are usually composed of olive greens, blues, fawns, and tans, but can also be red or other colors. They are usually woven with wool, but can also be found with cotton. The older Mughal pieces are relatively rare (they are usually found in fragments or are resized and heavily restored) and as such are much more valuable. The weight of an Agra is one telling factor between Mughal Agras and the Agras from the 19th and 20th century; newer Agras are heavier.