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History of Carpets

In the year 1947 was discovered the oldest rug in the world (older than 2500 years  located  in a princely Scythian tomb (Sacai) in the mountains of l Altai, 80 km away from the  Mongolian border, 200 km from Bilsk, in southern Siberia. The rug was called after  the same locality Pazyrik. The rug measures 183 cm x 200 cm  is being  treasured  in the Hermitage museum in St Peterburg. A book has been especially published in 1950 about the story of this rug. In the opinion of all researchers, the Pazyrik rug has been knotted   by Medes people or by Fars people (ancient original  Persians) in the zone of the province “Khorassan” with Gordes knots. The pattern shows motives which are similar to the ornaments of the ancient 2500 years old palace of Persepolis, which itself has been destroyed by Alexander the Macedonian. The ruins of Persepolis are located near to the city of Shiraz. The Pazirik rug is the evidence that the development of Persian rugs still began 2500 ago.

Pazyrik.jpg The art of knotting carpets was probably developped in central asia  thousands years ago. The nomadic people as a kind of protection during the cold winters.  The looms in their primitive forms had the horizontal forms with 2 wooden ribs secured to the ground, which can be fold easily and transport from one camp to the other. The nomads have kept this kind of horizontal looms till now. For example the Gaschgai nomads still use this kind of horizontal looms now. The patterns of these primitive carpets were com posed of geometric motives and more rare curvilinear motives, inspired of the natural environment and what they saw   around them.

According to professor Poppe, American researcher of carpet (1881-1969), the famous hunting Keschan carpet with 1,2 million of knots/sqare meters kept in the museum of Art of Vienna is dating  from the period of reign of the SAWAFID dynasty (1502-1722 a.C.) The pattern of this carpet has been designed by Sultan Mohamed, a famous painter of the court in the time of Schah Tahmasev in the year 1523 a.C. and then knotted in Keschan in the second half of 16. Century. It is a matter of fact that this period has been a prime period for the art of artistic carpets, encouraged by the influence of the court. The name and influence of Shah Abbas (dynasty of Safawid) was very decisive in the promotion of carpet making and court manufactories. Professor Poppe himself died in Shiraz.

What is the exact signification of handknotted:  either knotted with own fingers or knotted with finger using a hook, the carpet pile shows knots on his ground. The specification like  Handycraft or handloom doesn’ mean that the rug is made with knots, it means that some handlings have  been made by hand but it is not handknotted those carpets don’t have a comparable value.

Current wool, very fine wool, silk and cotton are the raw materials used in the manufacturing of these precious rugs. It is appropriated to make rugs with a huge quantity of knots, possibly reaching the density of about 1 million knots/ square meter.

The materials, the technique of knots and the density of knots are determinant for the quality and the value of the rug.

The value determination:

The value of a rug depends from

  1. The material used and the quality of this material, wool quality from 1-3. Type of silk, possibly hand picked cocoon, different from insustrial spon silk. The high quality silk comes from Ghamsar, a village close to keschan.
  2. The type of knots, (Gordes or Senneh knots) each knot has to be properly introduced and thighten with fingers or help of a hook.
  3. The density of the knots, counting 10 knots in length of 1 centimeter are resulting 10 x 10 = 100 knots in a square centimeter

The technique, the fineness and accuracy of the work are significant for the value of a rug.  There are other rules of importance in the field of old carpet and Antique carpets.

The rugs bear the name of the place where it has been made. However it is important to point that 2 rugs bearing the same name for example Tabriz can be completely different in quality and value depending of the material ,t he technique,  the density of knots without forgetting the particularities like singularity of  pattern or fame of the workshop or artisanal singular characteristics like signature or emblem.

How to interpret the knotted year of manufacturing?

The date which is sometimes knotted in the rug is depending of the Hidshra (the travelling year of prophet Mohamed from Mecca to Medina in 622 a.C. the chronology  starts from the lunar Islamic year ( 11 years less than our solar year, about 3%.).

An example: the knotted date is indicating year 1287 deducting 3% adding 622 is equal to 1800, the correct year of elaboration of the rug.


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