A Brief History of Oriental Rugs

The earliest references to carpets appear in the Old Testament and with the classical authors such as Homer and Aeschylus. There is no way of knowing what type of carpets these were. They may have been knotted carpets, or they could have been woven or embroidered material.

In 1949 the Pazyryk carpet was discovered in a burial mound in the Pazyryk Mountains of Siberia. It had lain there for over two thousand years, covered by a thick layer of perma-frost or black ice, which happened because grave robbers broke a seal and allowed water into the tomb. This carpet, which is dated to the 4th -1st centuries B.C., confirms the existence of highly sophisticated hand-knotted rugs during that time. It is in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad.

A variety of carpets and fragments of carpets dating from as early as the 5th century have been found throughout the Middle East, proving that by this time the art of carpet weaving was widely practiced. Perhaps, the highest form of carpet making came during the Safavid Dynasty, which ruled Persia in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the 19th century, as European demand for Oriental rugs was on the rise, the West began to have an impact on the weaving centers of the East. Factories and workshops were expanded to meet the demands of foreign trade. These factories and workshops employed skilled artisans who produced intricate and sophisticated designs into the rug making. These patterns have come a long way from the nomadic designs of centuries ago.

Be sure to call or e-mail Caravan Connection of Newport if you have any questions about your Oriental rug or if you are thinking about buying one.

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