A Brief History of Rug Making
It is impossible to say with any degree of certainty exactly when in history, where, or by whom the first pile rugs were made.
The materials are considerably more perishable than those of other types of artifacts. And so very few have survived since before the 15th century.
The earliest substantial collection of pile fabrics in existence, which dates between the 5th and 10th centuries AD, was excavated from Egypt, throughout Turkey, central Asia, and other parts of the orient.
However, there is a considerable amount of literary and pictorial evidence pointing to the existence of a flourishing tapestry and rug pile weaving tradition stretching from Greece into central Asia, which is at least 3000 to 5000 years old. The oldest intact oriental rug has been carbon dated to 500 b.c.
It is known as the Pazryk carpet and was found in the tomb of a tribal chieftain in Siberia. The tomb flooded and froze, preserving it.
Fragments of rug have been discovered which predate it.
Most scholars believe that the most advanced civilizations of the era used rugs mainly for decorative purposes – as wall hangings, bed spreads, and covers for seats.
Oriental rugs were probably brought into Spain by Moorish invaders during the 11th and 12th centuries, but it was not until the 14th century that Italian merchants, trading with Turkey, and the near east, introduced them to the rest of Europe. It was a source of great prestige to have one’s portrait painted while sitting on, or standing near a Turkish rug. By the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the fashion for oriental rugs had spread throughout most of Europe. Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey were among the first to import into England. In summary, we can say that rugs were used by a number of civilizations, ranging from Greece to central Asia, during the 1st millennium BC. They were probably in existence for some considerable time before that.