15 Jun The Oldest carpet in the world
The Pazyryk rug is one of the oldest carpets in the world, dating around the 5th century BC and it is now in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Over 2000 years ago, in the Pazyryk Valley located in the Altai mountains where Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia meet (as you can see in Figure 2), lived the Scythian people. These Persian speaking unbeatable warriors are remembered for their gold jewelry and royal tombs which were the final resting place of the Scythian noblemen and their treasures. The Scythians dug their tombs deep in the ground and covered the deceased with piles of timber and stone and thus all their findings have been unearthed in a remarkably preserved condition. It is from the tomb of the prince Altai that the Pazyryk carpet has been obtained among several of the prince’s possessions, such as mummies, silk tunics, cloth saddles, a full-sized chariot, decorative figurines, which attracted the attention of Russian scientists in the 20’s.
The archaeological excavations carried out in 1949 revealed an abundance of historically important items, offering an intriguing insight into the little-known life and culture of the nomadic tribes living in the heart of the southwestern Siberian steppe. The world’s most ancient pile carpet was discovered by S.I. Rudenko, frozen in the largest of the Pazyryk burial mounds Modern carbon dating has place it at 2,500 years old.
The Pazyryk carpet was woven in the technique of the symmetrical double knot, in modern terminology also called “Ghiordes knot” (or “Turkish knot“) and has 36 symmetrical knots per cm2 and more than 1,250,000 knots in the whole carpet. Therefore, its pile is rather dense.
Even though it has Persian motifs, the source of the Pazyryk carpet is still uncertain. Some scholars believe that it was made in Persia and was imported. Others disagree and believe it was made near the area where it was found. But perhaps it was produced in Central Asia through which the contacts of ancient Altaians with Iran and the Near East took place. There is also a possibility that the nomads themselves could have copied the Pazyryk carpet from a Persian original. The pattern is shown in Figures 1, 3, 4 and 5.
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