Over 2,500 years ago, carpet weaving was first practiced in Iran. Persian rugs and carpets were first made out of necessity to protect nomadic tribespeople from the cold and damp by covering their floors. Over centuries, during times of peace, invasion, and war, the natural progression of the skill and craft involved in the creation of these works of art has been passed down from one generation to the next. The variety of patterns and designs increased as international trade developed.
The Persian carpet development can be traced in part to the country’s various rulers over time. Many historians attribute Cyrus the Great’s introduction of Persian carpet to Persia to his awe-inspiring victory over Babylon in 539 BC. There is a legend that precious carpets covered Cyrus’s tomb at Pasargadae, close to Persepolis. Persian nomads likely created at least very simple designs for their own homes long before his time. For this purpose, the wool from their sheep and goat herds was of high quality and durable.
The oldest known knotted carpet was discovered in 1949 by Russian archaeologists in the Pazyryk valley, which is located in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. The Pazyryk carpet, which dates back to the 5th century BC, is a fine example of a skill that has been developed and refined over time. The Hermitage Museum of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) houses the carpet, which was preserved for more than two millennia in the frozen tombs of Scythian nobles. This rug’s complexity suggests that the art of carpet weaving had advanced far beyond the simple rugs made for practical purposes even at this early date.
Chinese texts from the Sassanid Dynasty (224-641 AD) were the first source of documented evidence for the existence of carpets. Carpets from the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon were brought back by Emperor Heraclius in 628 AD. In 637 AD, the Arabs also conquered Ctesiphon. They brought back several carpets, including the well-known garden carpet known as “Springtime of Khosro.” The most priceless carpet in all of history is this one. Made during the rule of Khosro I (531 – 579 Promotion) the floor covering was huge, estimated 400′ x 100′, and gauging a few tons. The silk-based rug is described as follows by historians: A magnificent flower bed of blue, red, white, yellow, and green stones formed the border; Gold was used to imitate the earth’s color in the background; the appearance of water was created by clear stones like crystals; The plants were covered in silk, and color stones formed the fruits. It is said that the king walked on the carpet in the winter to remind him of how beautiful spring is. Nevertheless, when the Arabs invaded, they divided the magnificent carpet into numerous pieces and sold each one separately.
Seljuk, a Turkish tribe named for its founder, conquered Persia after the Arab Caliphates’ dominance. The history of Persian carpets was greatly influenced by their dominance, which lasted from 1038 to 1194 AD. Using Turkish knots, the Seljuk women were skilled at making carpets. In the territories of Azerbaijan and Hamadan where Seljuk’s impact was most grounded and longest enduring, the Turkish bunch is utilized right up until now.
From 1220 to 1449, the Mongol conquest and rule of Persia were initially brutal. However, the Persians soon gained control of them. The precious carpets covered the paved floors of Ghazan Khan’s palace in Tabriz, which belonged to the Ilkhan leader and lasted from 1295 to 1304. The Mongol ruler Shah Rokh (1409 – 1446) added to the recreation of much that was annihilated by the Mongols and supported every one of the creative exercises of the locale. However, the carpets of this era were adorned with straightforward designs, the majority of which were geometric. During the Safavid dynasty’s rule in the 16th century AD, the Persian carpet reached its peak. Worldwide, approximately 1500 examples are preserved in private collections and museums. Commerce and the arts flourished in Persia during the time of Shah Abbas (1587-1629). Isfahan, Shah Abbas’s new capital, was transformed into one of Persia’s most dazzling cities, fostering trade and contacts with Europe. Also, he built carpet workshops where skilled designers and craftsmen worked to make beautiful carpets. Silk made up the majority of these carpets, and gold and silver threads added even more detail. Two of the most well-known Safavid carpets; originate from the Ardabil mosque and are dated 1539. These carpets, according to a lot of experts, are the result of years of hard work and dedication to carpet design. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London now features the larger of the two carpets as its focal point.
With the Afghan invasion in 1722, the Persian carpet’s court period came to an end. Isfahan was destroyed by the Afghans, but their dominance was brief; Nader Khan, a young chieftain from Khorasan, became the Shah of Persia in 1736. Throughout his entire reign, all of the nation’s troops participated in campaigns against the Afghans, Turks, and Russians. Carpets of any significant value were not produced during this period, nor for several turbulent years following his death in 1747; in small villages, the craft was only practiced by nomads and artisans.
Trade and craftsmanship regained prominence in the final quarter of the 19th century, during Qajar’s rule. Tabriz merchants began exporting carpets to Europe through Istanbul, reviving the carpet industry. Some European and American businesses even established operations in Persia by the end of the 19th century and organized craft production for western markets. As a result of this development, new fashions were produced catering to Western tastes. Ziegler & Co., a German company with its headquarters in Manchester, moved to Iran to create new carpets for export. Their collaboration with Iranian master weavers resulted in the creation of carpets suitable for Western interiors, such as the Ziegler rug, which is currently one of the most popular rugs in production.
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