Humanity has a long and sordid history with the invention of weaving, from clothes to containers. It is seen by some as the beginning of civilization, when man decided to capture animals for use other than food and using the hairs and fur of still living creatures to fashion their clothes from. Along the way came woven fabric to cover doors and windows, and finally art. After a little history, we will share with you an example of pure mythology and an introduction to two historical pieces.
Our Interwoven History
Rugs and Carpets started out as what we now call tapestries. Originally they were pieces of art that were made for trading or commissioned by the wealthy. Rugs hung on walls and told stories. They are made with many different techniques and materials, there were knotted carpets as early as 2000 B.C., and the oldest existing knotted pile carpet is the Pazyryk Carpet, carbon dated to at least 2,500 years ago. If the ability to weave materials for clothing is a measurement of civilization, then the ability to weave for artistic purposes should be seen as a measurement of advanced cultures.
The Flying Carpet
The legend of the magic or flying carpet is prevalent in middle eastern folklore and legend. Popularized by the book One Thousand and One Nights, The prince, eldest son of the sultan travels to Bisnagar and purchases a magical carpet from a merchant that can instantly transport whomever sits upon it to the destination of their choosing. Similarly King Solomon was said to have a flying carpet made of silk that was 60 miles square. It was said to obey his commands and travel so quickly that he could eat breakfast in Damascus and dinner in Media, a distance of over 1,200 miles. There are dozens of historical legends told of ancient heroes who came into the possession of the fantastical flying carpet and beautiful paintings illustrating them as well.
The oldest known knotted pile carpet was found in 1948, excavated from a frozen and preserved Pazyryk burial mound in Siberian Altai Mountains. The vibrant colors and fiber only survived due to the ice and extreme cold of the region, and the nearly six foot square rug is currently housed in the St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum. The various borders depict griffins, deer, workhorses and men in a beautiful arrangement.
The Bayeux Tapestry
While not an actual tapestry, it is an embroidered cloth that is over 200 feet long showing the events leading to the Norman invasion and victory over England, involving Duke William of Normandy and Harold, then Earl of Wessex and later the King of England. The fifty scenes depicted in the tapestry were accompanied by Latin descriptions follow this to the end with the Battle of Hastings. It is believed to have been commissioned by William's half-brother and made in England in the 1070s. It was rediscovered in the Bayeux Cathedral and now resides in its own museum, still in Bayeux, Normandy.
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