Persian rugs are believed to be among the oldest and most beautiful of oriental carpets throughout the history. However, nobody knows for sure when the first carpet was created, since they are object to wear, they got torn and would deteriorate during the time. history of Persian rugs
The first hand-woven carpets were made of felt to cover the ground. Felt is produced like the simple cloth, weaving the strands together to create a flat surface. Later, the carpets were made using the loop method which weaved a rod in between the strands to raise them, resulting in a pile rug. history of Persian rugs
The earliest Persian rug
The earliest pile rug is Pazyryk carpet which was found in 1949 near the grave of a nobleman in Pazyryk Valley, Siberia. This carpet goes back to the 5th century BC. The technique used in this carpet proves a long history of trial and error. Rudenko, the one who discovered this carpet, published a book in 1953. He claimed that this carpet should go back to the time of Achaemenids. All these evidences make this rug as the oldest carpet in the world. It is not known whether it was produced locally or was transported there, but its elaborate and professional design indicates that the carpet weaving was already an advanced industry at the time.
Xenophon, the Greek author, was the first writer to mention Persian carpets around 400 BC. According to him, Persian carpets were valuable objects to offer as diplomatic gifts. No carpets remain from that period. Besides, the oldest example of a Persian carpet goes back to the end of second century to early Sasanid period. The design of these remaining fragments shows several stags and some mythical creatures. Currently, these fragments are kept in Kuwait.
The industry was revived during the reign of Shah Tahmasb (1524-1587) from Safavid dynasty. The Safavid kings paid a lot of attention to the fine arts and they were the first people who changed carpets from a household item to an artistic one.
Ancient Persian rugs
The traditional method of weaving rugs is often a closely guarding family secret. The techniques for Persian rug making have passed from generation to generation throughout history. Experts believe that the initial establishment of Persian rugs as an Iranian art began with Achaemenid Empire, when Cyrus was the king of Persia in 500 BC. However, some other experts think that the Persian nomad tribes had been weaving Nomad Rugs using sheep’s wool. They believe these tribes used hand knots for lining the floors of their tents even before the empire of Cyrus.
Turkish Seljuk influenced Persian Rugs
During the eleventh Century the Turkish Seljuk tribes invaded and ruled Persia bringing with them Turkish influences in rug weaving that were transferred to Persian rugs. This included the use of Turkish carpet knots which differ from those found in traditional hand-knotted Persian rugs. However, even after Seljuk influence in Iran waned, the Turkish methods of carpet weaving still remained in Turkish areas of Iran such as Tabriz.
Safavid Persian Rugs
Above all, The Safavid dynasty is considered the best period in history for Persian rug weaving. It was at this time during the 16th century that the merchants started to export Persian rugs to European countries where people appreciated them for their great beauty. The safavid ruler Shah Abbas who ruled the country from Isfahan, created vast workshops in which Persian rug weavers could apply their skills. Most of the Persian antique rugs in existence today come from this period in Iranian history.
Persian rugs under Afghan influence
Afghan invasion in the 18th century brought about the decline of Persian Safavid dynasty. Although Afghan influence did not last long in Iran, Persian rug weaving activity was much less prolific than in previous centuries. And comparatively few 18th century antique Persian rugs from this period of Iranian history are still in existence. history of Persian rugs