The Oldest Rugs in The World

In the 21st century, there is a wide variety of things that are available to us at the blink of an eye. But just imagine this- there was a time, when something as easily available as a rug today, was a rare work of art whose beauty seldom caught the eye of a common man. A brief stroll down the road exposes us to so many beautiful things such as an Obeetee Carpets store where the marvellous furnishings are displayed behind a beautiful glass window. But do you think it would be possible 2500 years ago? 2500 years ago when we did not have the materials, the dyes, the advanced and efficient craft techniques, the effective machinery to transport resources, and many such elements necessary to craft a rug of a high quality.

The oldest rugs

However, one must not overlook the fact that despite such scarcity and unavailability of goods and supplies, these carpets crafted centuries ago are even today, the finest, the most artistic, and intricate rugs every seen by art and design experts. In this blog, we discuss two of the oldest rugs that were crafted in the olden times. These carpets inspire rug makers even today thanks to their intricacy and exceptional quality of materials. Most brands strive to live up to this standard but only a few can match up to the design aesthetic, and almost none can match up to the knot counts. Nevertheless, these rugs have been used as a major reference, template, or stencil to craft many rugs in the world. Let us discuss how these carpets were crafted centuries ago, how their designs were created, and where they are today.

Pazyrykrug: Origin

This rug stands to be the oldest hand knotted Oriental rug and was derived from the Altai Mountains in Siberia in 1948. Discovered in the grave of prince Altai near Pazyryk, this rug was derived is a perfect depiction of how the designs were conceptualised by people in that era. The Pazyryk carpet was woven in the 5th century B.C., making it roughly 2500 years old, according to radiocarbon tests. The intricate pattern and structure of this rug, as well as the superior weaving techniques utilised, indicate that the art of carpet weaving dates back further than the 5th century B.C., and is at least 4000 years old. The rug is now on display in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad, Russia.

Design conceptualisation

Despite being discovered in a Scythian burial mound, most scholars believe the Pazyryk rug is from Persia.

Its design is in the same manner as the Persepolis sculptures. The outer of the two main border bands is embellished with a line of horsemen: seven on each side, twenty-eight in total — a quantity that corresponds to the number of males who brought Xerxes' throne to Perspolis. Some ride their horses, while others stroll beside them. On each side of the inner primary band, there is a line of six elks.

When the prince of Altai died, he was buried with many of his favourite things, including the Pazryk Carpet, in a tomb mound. Unfortunately, with the exception of the rug, the grave mound was quickly stolen of its valuable belongings. The rug was partially frozen because the thieves failed to seal up the hole they had excavated to collect the artefacts, leaving the hole exposed to the weather within the tomb. The combination of low temperature and precipitation within the tomb froze the carpet, preserving it in a thick film of ice for the next two centuries. The Pazyryk rug still exists today because of this somewhat ironic incident.

The supplementary figures within the elks illustrate the insides and the vertebra of the elk, all components in unbelievably clinical precision:

  1. Just above the front legs, the heart (a yellow framed red sphere, black contoured).
  2. The aorta is second (a long red protuberance on the heart).
  3. The maw, located on the sphere's right side (a large yellow area with a widening upwards on the end).
  4. The gut at the back end (a yellow square surrounded by a light blue and a yellow bow).
  5. The urethra, on the top half of the right hind leg (a yellow line with a black tip), which is more visible on other deer on the border.
  6. The vertebra (an alternating black-white chain) just beneath the brown back contour.

Ardabil Persian rug: origin

This Is the World's Oldest Ardabil Rug. The Ardabil rug is another Persian rug that is said to be one of the two earliest Persian carpets. Furthermore, it is one of the world's largest carpets, measuring an astonishing 10.5 metres by 5 metres.

The Ardabil Persian rug was produced in the late 1530s during the Safvid Empire. The royal rug factories were created at this period, and the best accomplished weavers were selected to manufacture carpets for the royal court. The Ardabil was one of a matching pair particularly made on contract for the Ardabil shrine.

When the rug was finished, it was put in the shrine and stayed there until 1873, when a massive earthquake wrecked the mosque and everything inside it, including the rugs. The shrine's keepers then decided to sell the carpets to collect much-needed funding for the damaged shrine's repairs.

These rugs were then bought and restored by individuals and companies who wished to preserve the authentic artistry of the ancient rugs.

Design conceptualisation

The rug spans 10.5 metres by 5.3 metres and is crafted using silk with a wool pile. The pile is long and dense, with a knot density of 300-350 knots per square inch, or around 26 million knots. Because of the high knot density, the designer was able to include more intricate decoration into the overall pattern of the rug.

Given the complexity of the design, it is estimated that up to ten expert weavers worked on the rug at any given time, and even so, it took many years to finish. A highly competent expert designer generated designs for the weaver to work from.

The weaving was done in ten distinct colours. There is a minor variance in the hues in different sections of the carpets. This variance occurs because the wool was coloured in batches with natural colours.

A single integrated design with well-balanced individual components covers the full surface of the rug. The core design is rather simple, and the overall richness is due to the contrasting colours in the backdrop and the slight changes between the patterns utilised as filler patterns.

Each section of the pattern is filled with one or two styles of scrollwork set with different leaves and flowers. Some of the designs include symmetrical snaking formations that are meant to imitate clouds. The largest and most complicated of these designs fills the main field's dark-blue background. There are two sets of scrolls here, and they are supposed to be stacked on top of each other to give a feeling of depth.

Another interesting and intriguing element of the Ardabil rug is the lack of animals. Most carpets woven during that time period virtually usually depicted animals. It was assumed that the absence of animals on this rug was due to its intended usage in a religious environment.