The Art of Carpet Weaving: History

The Art of Carpet Weaving: History

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Carpet weaving is one of the most ancient crafts mastered by man.

Archaeological finds show that the art of weaving patterned fabrics was widespread in ancient Egypt as early as the 14th century BC. In the rocky necropolis of Beni Hasan, located on the east bank of the Nile, a fresco of the 10th century BC was discovered, which depicts two girls at a loom, the device of which has changed little over the past three thousand years. Alas, almost nothing has survived to our times, and basically we can judge which carpets adorned ancient dwellings only by images – time turned out to be more favorable to them.

However, the Hermitage keeps the most ancient, miraculously preserved in the ice of the Altai Mountains, the Pazyryk carpet. This is the oldest pile carpet of the existing ones, its age is over 2500 thousand years. The excellent state of preservation of the carpet makes it possible to fully appreciate its decorative features: a carefully crafted ornament with images of horsemen, griffins, fallow deer and stylized flowers.

Nowadays we still decorate our houses with rugs and carpets:

The history of the carpentry

The history goes back centuries and seems very confusing: many countries still compete for the right to be considered the founder of carpet weaving art. Most researchers agree that carpet weaving originated as a functional craft among the nomadic tribes of Central Asia. The fact is that the practical qualities of the carpet are undeniable: it protects from cold and dust, from the scorching sun, harmful insects and even from snakes, which are repelled by the protective layer of lanolin that covers natural wool.

The carpet was a canopy, coverlet, blanket and took a central position in the structure of human life. Women began to learn weaving at the age of 3-4 years, so the loom became a direct reflection of not only traditions, but also personal aspirations and experiences. The woven carpet contained a special vision of the world and the aesthetic sense of the craftswoman. Over time, it was the carpet that became synonymous with the word “home”, because the carpet in many regions was absolutely irreplaceable.

All daily life was concentrated around the carpet: marriage ceremonies were performed on it, the family gathered together for a meal, the children sat on the carpet while they were told the ancient traditions of their people, and the bed was replaced by a fluffy pile carpet, soft and warm. We can say that design as an art in the true sense of the word began with carpet weaving. In ethnic carpets, every detail is very symbolic. The pattern is an artistic interpretation of the image of the Universe in the imagination of the masters. As a rule, the carpet is replete with auspicious and protective symbols, among which the Tree of Life is often found – one of the most revered motifs.

Traditional carpets of the East

As soon as the tribes began to move to a settled way of life, the art of carpet weaving began to gradually become more complicated: more and more work was invested in the ornamental and decorative features of the canvas. The number of colors in which the yarn was dyed increased, and the symbolism made the carpet an integral part of the rites and rituals of many nationalities.

The most famous carpet-weaving centers of the new settled period were Persia and Turkey, and later India. The era of the Safavids (XVI-XVIII centuries), also known as the golden age of Iranian art, gave the world magnificent examples of handmade carpets. Particularly valuable and luxurious specimens were woven in the capital, which was first the city of Tabriz, and then Isfahan. Until now, both of these cities are considered the main centers of Iranian carpet weaving, where, according to old sketches, carpets are woven from high-quality materials that have both beauty and practicality. In the Muslim tradition, special decorative principles have been formed, most fully embodied in carpets. The carpet has become an image of paradise, an ideal being.

Carpets from Tabriz and Isfahan are still recognized as perhaps the best in the world. The secrets of craftsmanship, passed down from generation to generation, make it possible to achieve true perfection both in the artistic appearance and in the practical qualities of the carpet.

Carpets from Turkey through Venice began to be exported to Europe. Contrasting and energetic ornaments, woven with shiny wool, quickly captivated the imagination of Europeans. Carpets began to appear in the homes of noblemen, where they were depicted by gifted painters: Lorenzo Lotto, Hans Holbein the Younger and others. Carpets with a specific ornament, depicted by Lotto and Holbein, even received the appropriate name: “Lotto Carpets” and “Holbein Carpets”. However, in Europe, carpets have not yet been able to weave, because the creation of a carpet is an incredibly long, painstaking work that requires compliance with many nuances and a specific artistic vision in order to find the necessary shapes and color combinations.

During the Renaissance, carpets are often depicted on the canvases of great painters. Especially often they can be seen in ceremonial portraits and in classical altar compositions. And among the Netherlands and the Dutch, the carpet is often present in genre scenes: in that era, it was customary to set the table with a carpet, because it was an incredibly expensive element of decor.

Here is the handmade rug created by the Zanafi tribe located in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It has been handwoven with cotton and wool. The wool comes from the villagers’ sheep who carefully select it for its quality.

What about now?

Nowadays rugs are in fashion.

They create homey and stylish vibe anywhere. Throw it in front of you sofa, in the bedroom or even in bathroom! You don’t have to travel far (unless you want to) as you can find your perfect carpet here at Verishop:

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