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The History Of Carpet: Where Did The Magical Ride Begin?

Aug 17, 2007
The carpet industry can be likened to one magical ride from obscurity to fame. Its origin is as vague as the purposes to which it served. Some archaeological findings indicate that carpets were used extensively - either as floor covers, curtains, tokens or gifts from one tribe to another, blankets, canopies, and covers for tombs. It was not accurately determined who wove the first carpet - was it the Persians, the Egyptians, the Chinese or the Maya tribe? Or was it simply a by-product of nomadic wandering?

The best ones were used to adorn palaces and luxurious buildings, but carpets remained ambiguous, until they were introduced to most homes, with far less opulent tastes. Carpets are now within reach of most families who desire its more comfy feel over other types of flooring.

But under whose feet did the first carpet provide its warmth? Everything and everyone has a story to tell. This is your carpet's:

A hazy start.

Carpet making was possibly a skill developed out of necessity, as most inventions are. It is not told by evidences gathered who originated it, but archaeological findings identified groups of people who maintained it, until the craft rose to prominence among homes of distinction.

The oldest type of knotted carpet was discovered in Pazyryk Valley in Siberia. They were found in the tombs of Scythian chiefs and were estimated to be dating back to 2,500 years.

The Persian Connection.

Babylon fell on the hands of Cyrus in 539 B.C. Cyrus himself fell in deep admiration over layers and layers of carpet he saw in Babylon, and perhaps became instrumental in introducing the craft to Persia. Cyrus was so engrossed with carpets that he took most of them to his grave. In his burial grounds in Pasargadae, valuable carpets were found.

In Persia, carpet making flourished. Sheep and goats in herds provided a steady supply of quality wool; Persia became the heart of carpet making, where it evolved from craft to art.

The Chinese Influence

Recent excavations in China proved the existence of an earlier dynasty known as the Sassanid, between AD 224 and 641. Also proven, with documented evidence, were the presence of carpets.

Emperor Heraclius, in one of his conquests, brought home, along with his victory, a 90 square-feet garden carpet known as the "Springtime of Khosroe", acclaimed as the most valuable carpet of all time.

The Turkish Impact

Seljuk, founder of the Turkish tribe, Arab Caliphates, left a strong bearing on carpet history. When he conquered Persia, Seljuk women introduced the Turkish knots to most of Persian's carpet designs. Up to this day, most of Persian carpets are reflections of Turkish pride - with their durable knots.

The Mongolian Inspiration

Remnants of fabulous carpets were found in the palace of Tabriz, belonging to Ghazan Khan. The most remarkable time in history for Persian carpets came however, when Shah Abbas rose to power. He initiated workshops for carpets, and utilized the skills and craftsmanship of designers. Trade to Europe was also opened. Invasion of the Afghans in 1722 cut short these glorious years.

It was only much later, towards the end of the 19th century when carpet making made a comeback.

European and American companies ignited carpet making once more, and most of these companies even set up offices in Persia.

A magical ride?

Unlike its Walt Disney counterpart, carpet making didn't pass through a charmed transition from anonymity to prominence. As deep as the color of its hues, carpet making was a silent witness to many upheavals in the annals of history, as well as some illustrious victories. Perhaps the reason why a carpet is never dull, most of the time, it comes with lively colors, deeper shades, and magnificent designs.

Carpet weaving today is one of the most popular handicrafts in Iran, and the rest of the world. Persian carpets are, by far and large, acclaimed as the most valuable variety with its lavish tapestry of colors, designs and patterns
About the Author
Rodel Garcia is a housekeeper @ BC Children's and Women's Hospital. Webmaster of this website: The history of carpet
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