The Fascinating History of the Spring of Khosrow Carpet
Persian rugs and carpets have been woven by hand for hundreds of years by skilled artisans in the region now known as Iran. For centuries, antique Persian rugs have been renowned worldwide as priceless art pieces due to the beauty and vibrancy of their designs and the intricacy of their handiwork.
One particular rug may have done more to establish this reputation than any other: the Spring of Khosrow Carpet.
What is the Spring of Khosrow Carpet?
The Spring of Khosrow Carpet was a 6th century carpet that graced the floor of the palace of a Persian king in the ancient city of Ctesiphon. The city it self is located 20 miles southeast of modern day Baghdad on the banks of the Tigris River.
As it relates to the Spring of Khosrow, the term “carpet” is really a more fitting than “rug.” While estimates as to the size of the carpet vary, with some accounts saying it measured as small as 84 square feet and others claim it was a massive oversized palatial rug of 400 feet by 100 feet (which would amount to an area of 40,000 square feet!!!).
It was reportedly a silk rug with precious gemstones and metals woven into it. This must have made it quite heavy, although estimates that it weighed several tons may be exaggerated. By all accounts, however, it was magnificently exquisite.
Legendary Status Of The Spring of Khosrow
Unfortunately, the best that anyone can do, is make estimates, based on ancient descriptions, as to the rug size and weight of the Spring of Khosrow Carpet. This is because the carpet itself no longer exists to measure, display, or study.
In the year 637, Arabs troops took over the city of Ctesiphon and raided the royal palace. The Persians were forced to flee for their lives, but the Spring of Khosrow Carpet, being so large and heavy due to its ornate decorations, had to be left behind.
When the conquering forces found the carpet, they recognized its value. They cut it up into fragments and divided it among themselves as spoils of war. Even fragments of the Spring of Khosrow Carpet would be worth a considerable amount of money today. But sadly, none remain today.
Nevertheless, its reputation as the most valuable and beautiful carpet ever crafted persists to this day.
Alternative Names For The Spring of Khosrow Carpet
The Spring of Khosrow Carpet is also known sometimes as the Winter of Khosrow Carpet. Khosrow I is the name of the king who reigned in Ctesiphon at the time that the carpet was created to grace his royal palace.
The Spring of Khosrow was a particular type of floor covering called a garden carpet. Located in the Fertile Crescent, Persia was also well known for its elaborate gardens filled with fruit trees, shrubs, and flowers surrounded by ponds and watercourses. A garden carpet mimics the appearance of a Persian garden as viewed from above. The Spring of Khosrow was apparently designed to depict such a garden during the springtime when the flowers would be in full bloom and the fruits would be ripening on the trees.
The name “Winter of Khosrow” may therefore be a little confusing. It is meant to symbolize the king’s perceived power over his environment. Even in the winter, when his real gardens were lying dormant, he could roll out his garden carpet and create spring within his own palace. He could walk across his carpet and it would be essentially the same as strolling through his garden during springtime.
Ancient descriptions provide hints of what the Spring of Khosrow Carpet may have looked like. Not only was it woven from silk, which would have been extravagant in and of itself, as most Persian carpets are made of wool, it was also embellished with precious materials like jewels, gold, and silver. It seems that these were included in a very deliberate way to represent specific features in the carpet’s design.
For example, colored stones were used to represent the fruits on the trees. Crystals and clear stones gave the appearance of water. Gold was used, perhaps somewhat improbably, to depict the background color of the earth. At the border, magnificent stones in colors of green, red, blue, white, and yellow depicted elaborate flower beds.
Not only are rugs beautiful, but the Persian rug colors and designs included can have symbolic meaning. For example, yellow in this rug may have represented the sun or a feeling of joy. White may have represented cleanliness and purity. Red could have had any number of symbolic meanings, including beauty, courage, faith, luck, and wealth. All of these are qualities that a king desires, and that a ruled people desire for their king.
Ancient accounts tell us that the Spring of Khosrow Carpet depicted varieties of flowers and fruits but do not go into further specifics. However, the motifs commonly used in Persian carpets represent qualities such as serenity, prosperity, innocence, fertility, power, and spirituality.
The Spring of Khosrow Carpet may be gone forever, but its inspiration lives on today. The Nazmiyal Collection contains antique and vintage rugs as well as modern and custom rug selections. Use our search tool to explore the world of antique rugs from the comfort of your own home.