The Handmade Carpets: History and Art

A few thousand years ago, someone in Central Asia, as one shivered from cold, one thought, “let’s use sheepskin covering!” At the same time, one was already working towards the decoration of their tents with the materials used for warp, weft and pile that came from herds of goats and flocks of sheep. These coverings were used for more than one purpose: to shield oneself from the freezing winter, on the floor for some warmth, on tents to defend the snow, on the surface to eat, to pack and carry things along the way etc. All these purposes were possible due to its durability and versatility. 

Not many discoveries are made about the carpets but in 1947, the oldest known carpet was discovered in the process excavations in the tomb of Prince of Altai at the Altai Mountains of Siberia, Russia. The carpet is named Pazyryk-carpet or the Gorny-Altai carpet. It is 200 cm wide and 183 cm long. It has the knot density of about 360.000 knots per square meter, which is more than any carpet you may find. In fact, the pattern is gripping with the visuals of deers, the warriors on horses and other patterns. This carpet was probably manufactured in Armenia or Persia around 400 B.C. The carpet has survived about two millennia preserved in the frozen tombs and is now a spectacular sight in the Hermitage Museum of Leningrad. 

In the 16th century, the art of carpets evolved in India and Persia, for example in court workshops. One of these most famous carpets which is Ardabil Carpet; 1152 cm wide and 534 cm long, can now be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It is believed to be crafted by Maqsud in the city of Kashan, Persia. The carpet dates back to the year 946 after Islam count, which is 1539 A.D. and it took three years for five weavers to complete the carpet, which was ordered by Shah Tahmasp for the Sheikh Safi mosque. The carpet was sold in the 19th century in order to pay for repairs of the great mosque in Ardabil, north of Persia.

How They’re Made?

Raw material, the best quality wool is selected. 

The wool is either hand-spun or machine-spun. Each possesses its own unique characteristics: hand-spun wool is s touted for its lustre and shine, and machine-spun for its traditional, sophisticated look.

Once, the wool is selected, it is sent further in the process for dyeing. One good characteristic of wool is that wool readily accepts dye colours. Many subtle dye colours can be extracted from various plants for a natural dye process. On a large commercial scale, the use of chemical dyes is more convenient and thus more common. The wool is dyed after it is spun into yarn then it is referred to as yarn dyed. 

Then, the dyed wool goes to the weaver and the designer to decide for the design of the carpet. The designer finalises a map of the carpet, its colours and the pattern; and sketches the whole thing onto a graph paper. Once the design is approved and completed, the weaver then starts weaving the wool into the carpet. 

The completed carpet is yet raw and hence, it is washed to punctuate its texture and look. The washing also cleans any remaining dirt from the weaving process. Depending upon the quality, it may take 2-3 weeks and many washers to highlight the look. 

Lastly, the carpet goes through the close observation for trimming and from there, it is ready to be an iconic piece of your house. 

Now that we’ve told you so much about its legacy and its making, you must know that it is now available at Sulit Deco-Hub!

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