The Story Of The Pazyryk Carpet – The World’s Oldest Rug!
Where was the Pazyryk Carpet Discovered?
The Pazyryk carpet was discovered in an archeological dig in the Pazyryk valley.
About the Pazyryk Valley
The land surrounding Siberia’s Ukok Plateau is vast. Harsh in the winter, the region of Altai Krai is home to the Altai Mountains and the Ob River and her estuaries. The plateau descends into the Pazyryk Valley, which contains ancient kurgans (burial mounds) in the style of the Scythian peoples who inhabited the area in over two thousand years ago.
When did archeologist start excavating in the area?
Archaeological digs in the area began in the 1920’s and unearthed a wealth of historically important items that offered intriguing insight into the little known ancient nomadic tribes of the Pazyryk.
What was discovered at the Pazyryk archeological dig site?
Among the Pazyryk valley findings were mummies, cloth saddles, a full-sized burial chariot, decorative and / or devotional figurines and cannabis seed with an inhalation tent.
How old are the items found at the Pazyryk site and why was everything so well preserved?
When the tombs were unearthed, it was found that they had been remarkably preserved in ice since the 5th century BCE. The mummies that were found were so complete that they still had their tattooed flesh and hair.
The remarkable Pazyryk carpet – the oldest pile rug ever discovered
One of the most remarkable finds was the Pazyryk Carpet. To our knowledge, it is the oldest piled rug still in existence, and is housed at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. The museum’s website description of this ancient rug is as follows:
“Its decoration is rich and varied: the central field is occupied by 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of four stylized lotus buds. This composition is framed by a border of griffins, followed by a border of twenty-four fallow deer.
The widest border contains representations of workhorses and men.”
What the website does not mention is the ambiguity of the carpet’s origin. The Pazyryk Valley was located between active trade routes spanning the ancient world, with China to the east and Central Asia to the southwest. One of the mummies discovered–called the Siberian Ice Maiden–was clothed in a wild silk tunic that likely originated in India. Some of the figurines were gilded, and gold is not native to the area.
Where was the Pazyryk carpet actually made?
The Pazyryk Carpet most likely came from Central Asia, though it is really a tossup between Persia or Armenia. Both nations have traditions of weaving area rugs which spans thousands of years. The horses represented on the ancient carpet are nearly identical to horsemen on a frieze in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis. The possibility that the rug was produced by the Pazyryks is extremely slim, because the sophistication and elegance of the design is indicative of a settled and cosmopolitan civilization unlike the nomadic Pazyryks.
The Pazyryk Carpet is Persian or Armenian?
Based on a study of ancient artistic development, textile expert Ulrich Schurmann has reached the conclusion that the rug is of Armenian origin. The Persians also claim it as their own, believing that it’s an artifact from the Achaemenid Empire.
For now, the exact origin of the Pazyryk Carpet will remain a mystery, but it’s significance and beauty is forever eternal.
In honor of the oldest rug in the world, here are some of our favorite early rugs:
This rug blog about the oldest rug in the world – the Pazyryk Carpet, was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC.