The advent of Armenia goes back to 782 BCE, making it one of the oldest civilizations in the world. However, the earliest mention of Armenia dates back to the sixth century BCE. Breathtaking landscapes, a rich heritage and culture are some of the key characteristics that Armenia is renowned for. There is no wonder Armenia finds itself on the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. A lot of communities globally consider Armenia to be sacred and their Holy Land. In fact, what is even more noteworthy is that the earliest leather products have been found to be in Armenia, discovered in 3500 BC.
Armenian carpets, however, have a rich legacy of their own. Rugs in Armenia started out as being articles for sitting, during feasts and meals. Literary records have further revealed that Armenian carpets were given as tributes or tax dues. Other than that, they were simply gifted as tokens of one’s appreciation in the pre-Christian era.
Sources from Arabia have acknowledged the significance of prayer rugs as being an essential aspect of secular art.
An exceptional facet about Armenian rugs is that they were results of extremely organized craftsmanship. An extensive laborial exercise, an intricate and arduous craft, carpet making was majorly aimed at making profit. These pieces were epitomes of magnificence and were sometimes massive, indicative of their meticulous creation.
Armenians have been credited globally for their weaving techniques, thus bearing their craft and disseminating it to local communities in other parts of the world. During the 17th century, the Persian Shah Abbas provided hundreds of thousands of Armenians patronage by giving them the monopoly over the trade of silk. These carpets became the splendid Persian carpets for the Mughal court in India. In addition to that, the carpets for the Polish court consisted of a community of more than hundreds of thousands of Armenian weavers, assigned with the task of weaving in Isfahan in Iran. Extraordinary carpet weaving, in a way, began to be associated with Armenians, wherever they traveled to.
The popular ancient Pazyryk Carpet, dating back to the 5th to the 3rd century BC is one such example of Armenian excellence in carpet making, which survives till today and is exhibited in the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg. It is still unscathed, unlike much of the Armenian carpets produced from the ancient times. Ulrich Schuermann, the author of the book, ‘Oriental Carpets’ opines that the Pazyryk was a funeral accessory and was the innovation of Armenian artistry. Scholars and historians alike, for instance, Marco Polo and Herodotus have acknowledged the workmanship of Armenian carpets in their works. The city of Artashat in Armenia was referred to as “the city of the colour red”, coined by the Arab historian Yaqut, as it was famed for its ordan dye.
It is also hypothesized that the earliest usage of the word ‘carpet’ is derived from the Armenian word for ‘woven cloth’ called Kapert. Historically, analysis of literature and art has unveiled the significance of carpets in Armenian society. Heroic and narratives of fantasy feature the Armenian rug. There are miniature paintings, of religious proceedings and manuscript meant for the royalty which also illustrate the glorious Armenian craft of carpet making.
Rugs have always been a status symbol for the royalty throughout history, so much so that the Sultans and their Nobility placed these extravagant rugs on their thrones. Lavish rugs were adorned with precious metals like Gold and Silver whilst weaving, to be placed at the feet of the royalty. Rugs have held a special significance in Christianity and have been considered as Treasures of the Church and used for ceremonial and celebratory purposes such as royal weddings. They were also weaved to be placed on the coffins, to honor the dead.
Carpet weaving has consequently held prominence for the Armenians, and have played a central role in the cultural prowess of the nation, immensely. More importantly, Armenian women since the past have been important players in the carpet weaving industry, at par with their male counterparts. The tradition of carpet weaving historically holds great relevance for Armenian families and their livelihood.
At Obeetee, we hold the tradition of carpet weaving and the cultures which have contributed to its rise, in high regard. Armenian carpets have since the dawn of time been both a source of inspiration for our contemporary, as well as our traditional collections. They have also proved to be outstanding references for our designs. More importantly, we certify a superior quality you can always rely on.