The Beginning

All traditional textiles have had their beginning somewhere long before ago and it is real interesting to start with knowing the birth of that textile and then coming along the line.

About Carpets, academics have argued long over precisely where and when the first carpet/floor covering was made and the pendulum of decision swings between early Egyptians or Chinese or the Mayas. It has also been said that these people had most probably began to structure carpets at about the same time. Though, they had no contacts with each other, they were driven by the same need to protect themselves from the weather. At this stage carpets were purely functional items and unlikely to have had any artistic pretensions.

The Lion, Gabbeh, Wool on Wool, 20th Century: A charming example of famous group of Gabbehs called 'lion rugs' from south-west Persia

The earliest complete surviving carpet dates back around 500 BC, piled in wool on a wool and camel hair foundation that was part of the funerary appurtenances of the Scythian prince. It is now called the Pazyryk. Although, some fragments were also excavated from the Tomb of Ka in Egypt, which are believed to date from about 1,500 BC; some 1,000 years before Pazyryk.

The Medallion Isleimi, Esfahan, Wool on Silk, 20th Century: The rug exhibits the design executed by Mamouri, the most highlighted master weaver of late Pahlavi period (1925-1979)

The history of carpets underwent many ups and downs from 5th to 15th century AD. There are a variety of carpets and fragments, both piled and flat woven that conveys the quaint anecdote. Between 6th and 9th centuries, the carpets are associated to Coptic Christian culture of Egypt and Nubia. The earliest Turkish rugs are dated between 12th and 14th centuries and so many Spanish rugs dates from 14th and early 15th centuries. The carpet weaving industry could not stabilize untill 17th century, when the advent of Islam gave a new perspective to the carpets and fresh beginning to the industry. From this time onwards, the history of Islam became the history of carpets in many ways.

Medallion gol farangi, Karabagh, Wool on Wool, late 19th Century: The charming rug with a central quatrefoil medallion and gol farangi pattern of roses.

A gleaming period of Islamic art began in with the rise of Seljuks, Turkic community from central Asia. The art began to flourish under court patronage and consequently existing geometric patterns were gradually replaced by more refined floral patterns.

The Knotting Process

The Persion Knot 'Senneh'

Persian and Turkish are two famous knots that designate the entire carpet industry. However, the knot type does not bear any relation with the quality or value of the carpet but yes it does provides the clue about the origin of the particular carpet.

The Turkish Knot 'Ghiordes'

The Turkish (or Ghiordes) knot is made by laying a strand over two warp threads, passing the ends around the outside of the two warps and then pulling them back up through the middle of the two. Whereas, the Persian (or Senneh) knot is worked by passing on end of the strand around a single warp thread, then over and under the adjacent thread.

The knots are weaved either using fingers or a hooked knife, called a tikh, to pull the ends of the yarn (cotton or wool) through the warp threads. After the knot has been tied, the yarn is trimmed using the blade of the knife. After completing the single row of knots, the weaver vigorously beats it downwards with a daftun, a comb-like tool, to create a firm fabric. The knots are held in place with one or two weft threads, woven in and out, followed by another row of knots. This is how a true oriental rug is woven by hand and progressed slowly to the finish line. The patterns are decided by the weaver who weaves from his memory or by using a painted diagram or cartoon. Cartoons are professionally produced patterns that specify the design and the colours and shades to be included.

Once it is finished, it is cut from the loom and the trailing warp threads at either end of the carpet form the tassels. Later it is washed of the gathered grime and sun dried. Afterward, the master shearer shaves the carpet pile to give it an incredible finish and smoothness.