Persian rug makers initially began to make woven articles to cover the floors in order to provide nomadic tribesmen protection from the cold and damp floor. Back then, the tribes had no problem in making rugs because they had big herds of sheep, which was their major source for wool. By and by, the rug makers inculcated their skill and craft into necessity and made it a work of art.
Gradually, with the development in international trade, the variety of designs and patterns of rugs also grew.
Persian rugs are now famous for their richness of color, variety of spectacular artistic patterns and quality of design. In palaces, mansions, famous buildings, and museums, a Persian rug is amongst the most treasured of possessions.
The oldest rug discovered
The oldest Persian rug dates back to the 5th Century, BC. The Pazyryk Rug is one of the oldest piled rugs ever, discovered in the Siberian Mountains of Altai, Kazakhstan. It is over 6k years old. Being excavated by Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko in 1949, it has been preserved in ice since then. The intricacy of this rug suggests that even at this early date, the art of carpet weaving had progressed well beyond simple rugs designed for practical purposes.
In the early times, the Persian rugs served as beds, chairs, and tables for the very people who weaved them for their personal use in their homes.
How did rug making progress in Persia?
During the reign of various rulers of the country, Persian rugs gained much of the progression. Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 BC, and he was struck there by its splendor. He was the one who is known to bring the art of carpet making into Persia. It is said that the tomb of Cyrus was covered with precious rugs.
When did Persian rugs reached their zenith?
The Persian rugs reached its zenith during the reign of the Safavid Dynasty in the 16th century AD. On an average, 1.5k examples of amazing art are preserved in various museums or are preserved as private collections worldwide. Commerce and crafts flourished during the reign of Shah Abbas in Persia. He uplifted his terms and trade with Europe. After transforming his new capital, Isfahan, into one of the most glorious cities, he began to built workshops for rugs where skilled designers and craftsmen set to work to create splendid specimens.
With time, the rug industry in Persia collapsed or regained its importance. But today, carpet weaving is by far the most widespread handicraft in Iran.