What is the Oldest Rug in the World?

When we look at the world textile history, the only product that has survived until today without deteriorating its basic structure for about 3000 years is hand-made carpet. In the early days, it was used by the public for matting and cover the floor.

In course of time, it started to be used in palaces and castles, and even developed enough to be the subject of famous painters' paintings. This has caused carpet weaving to be seen as an art. In this regard, we can say that carpet weaving is one of the oldest hand weaving art in the world (The carpets which found in archaeological excavations so far prove this theory).

We are constantly talking about handmade carpets dating back to ancient times, but don’t you wonder, what is the oldest carpet in the world?

The History of the Pazyryk Rug

The oldest known carpet, Pazyryk rug, was found in 1949 in the Altai region on the Ukok Plateau of Siberia.

The plateau descends into the Pazyryk Valley, which contains kurgans (burial mounds) of the Scythian people who lived in the area more than two thousand years ago.

The carpet was found during archaeological excavations in the Pazyryk region, which houses these burial mounds.

The carpet was not the only thing was found in excavations. Mummies, cloth saddles, a full-sized burial chariot, decorative or devotional figurines, and cannabis seed were another things which found in the excavation area.

Studies on the carpet (which is the most fascinating piece found at the end of the excavation) revealed that the carpet was from at least the 5th century BC, that makes it the known oldest rug in the world.

The origin of the carpet, which is currently on display in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, is a matter of debate. There are many different theories about the origin of the carpet.

According to some scientists, the origin of the carpet is Turkish, while some scientists argue that the carpet is Persian origin. In addition to these, in a Soviet-based conference which held in Riga in 1987, it was emphasized that the red threads of the carpet resembled the style of the Armenians, but when we look at the knitting technique of the carpet, we see that it is knitted with Ghiordes knot technique, which belong to Armenian culture.

Moreover, similar motifs which used in carpets were later used in Turkish carpets again, so all of these signatures led to more emphasis on the possibility of the carpet being of Turkish origin.

NOTE: Despite the existence of various theories, the origin of the carpet is still not fully proven.

What is the Design and Shape of the Pazyryk Rug?

There are six deer on each sides of the inner main band of rug. The important detail in the deer motif is that the internal organs of the deer (especially the heart and intestines) were depicted on the carpet, and surprisingly the organs are located with nearly clinical precision. In addition, on the border strip of the carpet there are many  cavalry figure which riding the horses.