History of Carpets

Flooring is the foundation of any beautiful room. Start with a hand-knotted rug and the rest will fall into place.

History of Carpets

The term 'carpet' is interchangeably used with the term 'rug'. A carpet is simply a coarse cloth stretching from wall to wall. Carpet is permanently fixed in place while a rug is simply laid out on the floor.

Rug vs carpet: History of Carpets

 

The term carpet comes from Old French carpite, from the verb 'carpire' meaning to pluck, while, the term 'rug' has the meaning 'coarse fabric'.

A rug can effortlessly transform the look as well as the mood of any room. Rugs are not only chosen as a floor covering, but they also have a positive impact on the indoor air quality of your home. This is because carpet acts as a filter, pulling airborne pollutants out of the air, trapping pollutants until they are removed with vacuuming or professional carpet cleaning.

Rugs are an important part of our home décor, especially in homes with a large percentage of hard flooring.

The Swirl: Modern Rug For Living Room

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Rugs brighten up a room and give warmth and comfort for those who walk, sit, and sometimes lie on the rugs. When placed on top of the carpet, they protect the carpet from traffic, spills and abrasive soils thus slowing down the wear process and protecting your carpet. After all, it’s much easier to replace a rug than a whole house of carpet.

Origin of Carpets

From the earliest times, man has used various means to separate himself from the cold, discomforting ground or floor surface he walked, sat, and slept on. Even before recorded history, animal hides, and furs were used for this purpose. As time progressed, a variety of natural and fabricated materials have been used to provide a better level of comfort and durability.

The oldest carpet ever discovered is the Pazyryk carpet, which is a pile carpet rug discovered in a Siberian Burial Mound in 1949. Experts believe it is over 6,000 years old, dating back to the 5th century B.C.

Oldest carpet of the world - The Pazyryk Rug

Preserved in ice for thousands of years, this rug of unknown origin measuring approximately 5 x 6 feet, has all the characteristics of a Modern, Persian, or Anatolian rug with a pile and Ghiordes knot.

The rug’s dominant tile-work central motif is surrounded by borders featuring rows of elk and horsemen.

Over the centuries, gradual improvements in weaving and evolution in design have produced more elaborate patterns. Even though weaving soon became common throughout much of the world, each ethnic group produced quite different designs for different purposes. 

Origin of carpet: History of Carpets

In the Middle East, rug and carpet-making became a home industry where individuals would make rugs for their own use. In their spare time, they would make extras to sell at a later date or use as payment for other goods and services.

In fact, carpets were readily accepted for payment of dowries, to buy livestock or to pay off taxes. In India however, rugs were almost exclusively woven for the Mogul (Mughal) rulers and did not penetrate into the daily lives of the common people. 

In China, handmade rugs were essentially ornamental and made for those of high stature and wealth who could afford to purchase them or have them made.

Persian Carpets

Persia, the ancient Persian name of Iran, boasts to be the world's most superior culture in carpet manufacturing. The art of weaving and dying is inherited and carpets of all styles and sizes are made here. The Turkish speaking part of the population often uses the Senneh knot.

The carpets manufactured are often named after the areas where they are made, for example, Hamadan, Mashad, Kerman (or Kirman), Shiraz, and Bidjar.

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This is the Hamadan Carpet, it has a great story. Like it? Show Now

Now, have a look at Kerman (or Kirman) Carpet.

Kirman Carpet

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The art, architecture, and handicraft products were developed during the Safavids period, especially during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great, who reigned 1587-1629.

Since 1979, the country has become an Islamic republic. The oil provides the largest export income, but when it comes to occupation carpet manufacturing dominates. Millions of Iranians are involved in some way with the manufacturing of carpets; either through sheep raising, cutting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, washing, repairing, or sales.

For a visitor in Iran, it soon becomes obvious that the carpets play a big role in society. In the big cities, the exclusive carpet shops are packed tightly together. On the streets, one can see small trucks with carpets on the platforms on their way to bazaars. Looms, tools, and yarns are for sale everywhere.

Out in the countryside, looms are seen in the homes and out in the open. Sometimes someone may have spread out a carpet on the street and is washing it with water and a brush.

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For many people in the west, oriental carpets are synonymous with Persian carpets. This is of course not correct, but the mistake is understandable considering the influences of Persian carpet manufacturing worldwide.

The Swedish writer Knut Larson says in his book about oriental carpets: "The Persians preserve their carpet culture carefully. Their art of weaving carpets is something superior, it is the best in the world".

Turkish Carpets

Turkish carpets are sometimes also named Anatolian carpets. The oldest Turkish carpets found, originate from the 13th century and can be found in the city of Konya, which for a long time was the center for Turkish carpet manufacturing. Carpets that were made in the 16th and 17th centuries are fully comparable with the Persian carpets.

Rug weaving in Anatolia first began with the arrival of the Turkish tribes from Central Asia, who settled in this region. Therefore, Anatolian rugs form a branch of ethnic Turkish rugs.

History of carpets

Some of the oldest examples known are the eighteen surviving pieces woven by the Seljuk Turks in the 13th century. The motifs in these pieces represented in stylized floral and geometrical patterns in several basic colors and were woven in SivasKayseri, and Konya provinces.

The Turkish carpets are highly influenced by the Greeks which back in a time dominated carpet manufacturing. The carpets which are thicker consist of wool, cotton, and silk and are always tied with a Turkish knot, also called Ghiordes knot or Turkbaff.

Commonly used patterns are based on prayer niches with more geometrical motifs.

Humans and animals are not portrayed since the Quran does not allow this.

Carpets in India

Carpet weaving may have been introduced into the area as far back as the eleventh century with the coming of the first Muslim conquerors, the Ghaznavids and the Ghauri's, from the West.

The beginning of the Mughal Dynasty in the early sixteenth century, when the last successor of Timur, Babar, extended his rule from Kabul to India to found the Mughal Empire.

It is said that when Babur came to India, he was disappointed by the lack of luxuries here. He missed the luxuries of Persia, which included the Persian carpet.

Indian artisan weaving carpet

Akbar laid the foundation of carpet weaving tradition in India, in 1520 AD, when he brought some carpet weavers from Persia, at his palace in Agra. With their support, he established carpet weavings centers at Agra, Delhi, and Lahore to facilitate the production of Persian styled carpets, which were inspired by the designs of Kirman, Kashan, Isfahan, and Herat.

King Akbar, who was an illiterate himself was a great propagator of the arts and culture and it was during his reign that the arts flourished in India. Because of a lot of commotion in the jails, he decided to reform the system.

Between 1520-30's he instructed the carpet weavers from Persia he brought with him, some of the finest carpet weavers from the most well-known carpet workshops of Persia, to teach the prisoners the art of weaving carpets. These jailbirds took a lot of pride in their work and they eventually outshone their masters.

Initially, the carpets woven showed the classic Persian style of fine knotting. Gradually it blended with Indian art. Thus, the carpets produced became typical of Indian origin and gradually the industry began to diversify and spread all over the subcontinent.

During the Mughal period, the carpets made on the Indian subcontinent became so famous that the demand for them spread abroad. These carpets had distinctive designs and boasted a high density of knots.

Carpets made for the Mughal emperors, including Jahangir and Shah Jahan, were of the finest quality. Under Shah Jahan's reign, Mughal carpet weaving took on a new aesthetic and entered its classical phase.

Indian carpets are well known for their designs with attention to detail and presentation of realistic attributes. The carpet industry in India flourished more in its northern part with major centers found in Kashmir, JaipurAgra, and Bhadohi.

Today, India is the world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets in terms of value and volume. Around 75–85 percent of carpets manufactured in India are exported. Indian carpets are known worldwide for their excellent design, fascinating colors, and quality.

Carpets of Agra

Babur developed the city Agra, built gardens that reminded him of Persia, and infused the city with intellectuals and poets. Agra continued as a major seat of Mughal power through the seventeenth century.

Persian arts, architecture, and poetry were highly developed at this time. Mughal affinity for the high arts and culture of Persia helped to establishment Persian culture in India.

Although some carpet weaving was done in rural areas of India, the great Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) brought the art to India during his reign. Persian carpet weaving was at a pinnacle during this period under Shah Tahmasp and Shah Abbas of the Safavid Dynasty. Indian artisans were proficient in weaving lightweight textiles with fine wool, silk, and cotton, but not pile carpets.

Located in the Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, the city of 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 Agra has also been a large center for rug weaving since the 16th century. When Agra first became the Mughal capital in 1566, it also established its presence as a rug weaving center.

Akbar established court workshops and brought talented artisans from Persia to teach the art of pile weaving to Indian craftsmen.

Agra is well-known for natural vegetable dyes. Since it was the base of Akbar’s empire, the artists were first established here. 

Agra designs give emphasis to elegance and simplicity surrounded by bold floral borders.

Turkman and Abussan varieties are also famous. They are known for realistic bold patterns. The specialty of Bhadohi carpets of Uttar Pradesh is their individual designs. These designs have been developed by the native weavers and also include various hint of the Taj Mahal in natural colors.

The color is all-important to the production of a good carpet, for its effects both the color and condition. A bad color can make the pile dry and brittle

Author's Bio: Yashika Gulati is a master's student in Computer Applications. She loves exploring new topics and writing around them. Apart from this, she loves discussing food and recipes.

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