The Craft & It’s Traditions

Carpets have been woven for thousands of years, with the world’s oldest known carpet, the Pazyryk carpet, discovered in 1948. It was found preserved within the frozen tomb of a Scythian chief in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, with radiocarbon testing revealing that it was woven around the 5th century BC. But considering its sophisticated design and advanced weaving techniques, it’s believed that carpets have been woven for at least 4,000 years.

When the Persian Empire conquered modern-day Iran in 539 BC, they encountered ancient cultures that were already skilled in carpet weaving. As nomads, they herded sheep and goats who provided them with an endless source of highquality and durable wool. Their techniques and designs were passed down from fathers to sons and gradually attracted great attention, resulting in carpets becoming one of the region’s cultural riches.
The Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great (600 to 530 BC), adorned his palace with locally-made carpets, elevating their status as sought-after pieces. Carpets were transformed from a necessity for covering dirt floors and insulating nomadic tribesmen from the cold and damp to become decorative works of art that were signs of wealth and prestige.
Chinese texts dating from the Sassanid Dynasty (224 to 641 CE) indicate that Emperor Heraclius brought carpets with him following the conquest of the Sassanian capital, Ctesiphon. After the Arabs took the city in 637 CE, they also brought with them carpets, including the famous “Spring of Khosro”, which once graced the Ctesiphon palace of the Sassanian king, Khosro I.
For centuries the best carpets where-in the exclusive purview of nobility, kings and rulers. From Persia, to Anatolia, from Bukhara all through Central Asia and eventually to India, munificent and intricate pieces were commissioned solely for royal palaces, religious buildings and later for official state buildings. These magnificent works of art adorned opulent palaces and courts and the Artists received patronage from Islamic and Secular rulers alike.
The Modern World’s fascination with the now ubiquitous ‘Oriental Rug’ began in the 1800’s with several carpet exhibits taking place simultaneously in London and America. In 1877, Julius Lessing wrote the first western book on Oriental Carpets and since then, they have remained pasted in the western imagination as the quintessential symbol of high Islamic art! This fascination persists till today and ‘Oriental Rugs’ remain coveted collectors items; and a symbol of luxury and elegance.

In modern times Oriental Carpets have found permanent homes in Museum collections across the modern world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has over 600 Carpets as part of its ‘Islamic Art Collection’ while one of the most famous carpets in the world ‘The Ardabil Carpet’ is part of the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Like other Art, beauty lies in the eyes off the beholder and Carpet buying for most people, remains an aesthetic choice rather than a commercial investment. Yet the commercial value of such works of Art, however subjective their beauty, is undeniable. “Oriental Carpets” come from the traditional rug-weaving areas of the world: Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, parts of western China and with the arrival of the Mughals eventually to India.
Here, in India, carpet making was initially an attempt to imitate the original Persian masterpieces but over-time the art took on a life and identity of it’s own and today some of the best hand-knotted carpets are created in Kashmir, Agra, Mirzapur and Bhadohi.
Today the Carpet industry in India is facing serious challenges to its continuity. With mechanisation and rising costs associated with handcrafting anything, this hitherto centuries old art is crumbling in the face of blue-collar jobs and urban aspirations.
Simply put the age-old Master of the craft or Karigar has no one to pass his knowledge onto. Which makes it even more relevant to invest in this industry, to try and suffuse life into a centuries-old Art form and to ensure its continuity. Whatever your reasons may be, whether it is encouraging this art form or investing for the future or to purely enjoy the beauty of the rug, you will end up owning a piece of woven history
Handmade Rugs are one of the easiest ways to transform and enliven any space – be it residential or official. Based on its design, rugs and carpets can speak volumes of the personality of the space and the people inhabiting it. Whether you are revamping your den or decorating your newly bought house, the right rug can dictate the tone of your home at the first glance. Handmade rugs and carpets are all the more special as they add a charm of their own owing to the exclusivity and the beauty in their imperfections. As exquisite as durable, a handmade rug or a carpet is woven with stories of generational skills of its artisans. Coming to your house straight from the artisans, a handmade carpet from KARPETS can be one such investment piece, a family heirloom to pass down the generations.

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