Thank you to David for this guest post.
Humans have used rugs and carpets in our homes for a long time. However, most of us don’t really know the history of these two items; where they originated and how they were first made. I found it interesting to learn about the history of how rugs and carpets came into being.
A rug is a essentially a piece of thick cloth, usually made of wool or animal skin meant to cover a specified floor area for decoration or for warmth. In the past rugs were used extensively by travellers to keep them warm as they drove around in horse-drawn vehicles and later in open-top cars before the days of heaters and air conditioning!
The weaving and making of rugs can be dated back to ancient Egypt. Fragments of rug remains were found in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. These pieces of rug were discovered by historians in places like tombs and what could have been temples. In Asia and parts of the Middle East, weaving of rugs can be dated back to 2000BC. The nomadic wanderers in Asia had the ability to make many rugs due to the fact that they had readily available wool from their large flocks of sheep.
However, the oldest existing rug was discovered by a Russian archaeologist called Sergei Rudenko during the unearthing of a burial site in Serbia. It dates back to the 5th century. This rug was made with a knot called the Ghiordes knot, intertwined at an average of 200 knots per square inch.
Making rugs in Europe started around 1000AD, most likely in Spain due to its proximity to Egypt and Mesopotamia.
As far as we know, rugs were first made in England in 1255 when the art of rug making was borrowed from Granada, Spain. After World War II, a Belgian invented a machine to produce large numbers of rugs, which have been sold and used by consumers across the globe. In more recent times, many countries have developed industries to produce rugs for domestic use and export. The art of mass production has been aided by technology in that processing hides, colouring and shaping is now easier than before.
Carpets on the other hand are bigger than rugs. They are used to cover a bigger floor area, to keep one’s feet warm and to keep the entire floor of a room decorated.
According to archaeologists and experts in carpet production, the art of making carpets may have been extended from rug making. They argue that carpets were merely large pieces of rug. Making of carpets can be dated back to the 2nd-3rd century in the Middle East and Asia.
Travelers and merchants learned the art of carpet making because they were in need of woollen pieces of cloth to sleep on. Due to the nature of their adventurous travels, these groups of people would spread the carpets on any flat surface on the ground and have a nap, then continue with their journey. In addition, archaeologists have discovered the remains of carpets which they dated back to 7000BC.
The key countries from where the history of carpets is associated are Egypt, China, Turkey and Mongolia. Carpet making started spreading to other countries in the 6th and 7th centuries. Recent technological advances have enabled the use of different materials in carpet making. Even materials such as pieces of pine wood and plastic are being used to make carpets.
Carpets have had a very interesting history which can even be dated years before Christ. However, it’s worth noting that the production, sales and use of these items has impacted humanity.
Here are a few interesting facts:
The material used to make rugs matters a lot especially in regards to the rug’s lifespan. Visitors are usually impressed by quality items in one’s house. Nonetheless, who wouldn’t want to be complimented by guest for the quality of their rugs or carpets? Best materials for a long-lasting and beautiful display can be silk or wool; with a great combination of color and patterns.
Hand woven rugs are somewhat more durable than machine produced ones. In Africa, most rugs are handmade, where women expertly make rugs using cotton strings and sometimes woollen hides. Most of them make rugs and carpet to sell to tourists.
Traditionally designed rugs and carpets remain ever popular. Their patterns produce a unique display of art that can last generations. Some of our most beautiful stately homes display ancient rugs and carpets as decorative wallhangings - the posters of their day!
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