THE ORIGIN OF CARPETS
As a child, we seldom come to perceive the beauty that an intricately knitted floor covering adds to our house, yet the Magic Carpet of Aladdin is one of the foremost fantasies of our fiction-loving mind. Carpets, indubitably, have always formed a rich part of the culture of various civilizations, and the blend of beautiful designs that we see knitted on the carpets, has been inherited over the years from various cultures.
A carpet is a two-layered floor covering textile. The upper-layer generally called pile is made from wool or synthetic fibers, and mostly comprises of twisted tufts which are subjected to heat so as to add strength to their structure. The pile is supported on the lower layer called backing. The term "carpet" is coined from the Old Italian term carpita, "carpire" which denotes to pluck. A carpet is considered to be same as a “rug’, though there are differences between the two. A carpet covers the whole of the floor from one wall to the other, while a rug usually covers just a portion of the floor.
Evidence suggests that carpet weaving was practiced as long before as 6000 BC when wool and hair sheared from the domesticated sheep and goat were spun and woven into a thick covering. The origin of had-knotted pile is usually traced back to 2000-3000 BC in Central Asia.
What needs actually led to the origin of a carpet may actually never be known, though different theories are presented explaining the earliest motivations for weaving the wool into a thick covering. It is theorized that the earliest carpets were developed by nomads to protect themselves against the adversity of climatic conditions. However, they might have also used them to avoid contact with the ground. Intricately and beautifully knitted carpets are said to have evolved as artistic pieces and displayed during ceremonials and festivals, thus getting their way into the lives of common people.
The oldest carpet that has been discovered by the archaeologist is The Pazyryk Carpet, excavated from Pazyryk Valley in Siberia. Its creation dates back to 5 BC. The carpet was covered and preserved in ice. The polished craftsmanship of the carpet confirms the general idea that the carpets were woven for decoration and embellishment. So, the carpets served both the purposes of providing protection from the severity of climate as well as the beautification of inhabitation.
It is difficult to determine the basic place of the origin of the carpets. Carpets, being a symbol of culture, have spread from place to place around the world by the migrants, traders and invaders. Archaeologists have discovered different fragments of carpets from various places. Ancient carpet excavations from Central Asia dating back to 2000 to 3000 BC, justify it being called the cradle of carpet weaving. Migrants to the west and the east then spread this art to the locals of other places. Marco Polo, the Venetian merchant and traveler, has confirmed the practice of carpet weaving being carried out in Turkey in 1000 AD.
From there on, carpets spread to the whole of the world and assimilated the culture of different communities. Their evolution has been affected by social, economical and fashion developments. The choice was diversified and the quality improved when weaving was mechanized. In order to produce better quality carpets, advances have been in the manufacturing machinery.