Early History of Carpets








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Early History

Carpets were formerly woven to protect the body from cold, to be spread on a dais or before a seat of honor,  to cover a table, couch, or wall, or to  form the curtains of a tent. There is evidence of the existence of hand-woven carpets in antiquity. On the rock tombs of Beni Hassan, Egypt,  c.2500 B.C., men are depicted with the implements  of rug weaving. Other evidence of  the early use of rugs is seen  in the drawings on the ancient palace walls of Nineveh.

Oriental Carpets

In the mountainous regions of the East stretching from Turkey through Persia and Central Asia into China, where the fleece of the sheep and the hair of the camel and goat grow long and fine, the art of carpet-weaving reached its height early in the 16th century The artisan worked on a handloom consisting essentially of two horizontal beams on which the warp (the vertical threads) was stretched; on the lower one the finished carpet was rolled while the warp unrolled from the upper one. The yarn for the pile, spun and dyed by hand, was cut in lengths of about 2 in. (5.1 cm) and knotted about the warp threads, one tuft at a time, after one of the two established ways of tying—the Ghiordes, or Turkish, knot and the Senna, or Persian, knot.

After a row of knots had been placed across the width of the loom, two or more weft, or horizontal, threads of cotton or flax were woven in and beaten into place with a heavy beater, or comb. The tufts, or pile, thus appeared only
on the face of the fabric, which when completed was sheared to perfect smoothness. Although the hair of the camel and the goat was used in the weaving of Oriental rugs, the wool of the sheep was the essential component. Beautiful silk rugs interwoven with gold thread
were also made in the 16th and 17th century. To some degree, the quality of a carpet depends on the materials used and the number of knots per square inch of surface, which may vary from 40 to 1,000. Also produced in these regions are the geometrically patterned and  flat woven rugs known as kilims.


See W. von Bode and E. Kühnel, Antique Rugs from the Near East
(tr. of 4th rev. ed. 1970);
G. Robinson, Carpets and Other Textile Floorcoverings
(2d rev. ed. 1972);
J. Moshimer, The Complete Rug Hooker (1975);
E. Gans-Ruedin, The Splendor of Persian Carpets (1978).




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