The History of Antique Carpets – Part 1

The history of carpets is interwoven, if you’ll excuse the pun, with the cultural and political framework which permeated the ancient lands. These carpets were more than just pieces of fabric pieced together; indeed, they were representative of the vast array of events shaping history throughout Europe, Asia and other influential regions.

Carpets were indicative of the nomadic lifestyles of the people who created them. The weave and design oftentimes reflected important events in the weaver’s life and the society in which he or she resided. The carpets were colorful undoubtedly due to the plants utilized to create them and thus a tradition was born which would continue for countless centuries to come.

Although we cannot ascertain exactly where or when carpets were first created, archeologists have discovered ancient civilizations weaving with a loom as early as 1500 B.C; however, evidence of carpet production has been unearthed which seems to precede this date. Some experts claim that evidence points to early carpet creation circa the 5th century B.C. In fact, the oldest known surviving carpet dates back to this century and is called the “Pazyryk carpet.” It was discovered during an archeological excavation which took place in 1949. The carpet was found in the tomb of a prince in Siberia. Even after all this time, it maintains a deep red coloring and has two distinct designs depicting deer and Persian horseman.

This discovery was astounding on a myriad of levels. Not only did it prove that carpet making was far more ancient than originally believed; it illustrated the fact that ancient civilizations were more sophisticated in carpet making techniques than previously known. The colors, designs, and intricate patterns were not merely accidental but commonplace. By the time the 4th century rolled around, Persian wool and silk rugs were favored by kings and their courts throughout the civilized world of the time and these beautiful and unique carpets were in great demand.