Antique Rug Symbols: Hunters and Archers
Meanings of the Hunters and Archers Motifs as well as Hunting Scene Rugs
Antique Rug Symbols: Hunters and Archers — Hunting holds a large amount of cultural significance in Persia. For more than a millennia, stories about hunting have been passed down orally from generation to generation in Persian society. It is no wonder, then, that hunting motifs were some of the first to find their way into Persian rugs.
The first Persian hunting scenes rugs were made for the Shah and other members of the nobility to display in their lavish homes. The oldest rug known to feature a hunting scene was found to have been originally owned by royalty, having been uncovered in a Scythian prince’s tomb. This is actually the oldest rug in the world and called the Pazyryk carpet, which is estimated to have been woven in 500 BC. Aside from being the first known rug to feature a hunting scene, the Pazyryk rug is the oldest pile-woven rug ever discovered, suggesting that hunting motifs may very well have existed since this weaving style’s inception.
Despite the hunting motif’s early appearance in the designs of Persian rugs, designs of this kind all but disappeared in Persian weaving from 500 BC until the 16th century. Scholars believe that this may have been due to the increasing influence of various Islamic empires, which often viewed depictions of hunting and animals as a form of idolatry. In the 1500’s, hunting motifs reappeared in weaving as a direct result of Safavid rule. It was at this point that Persian royalty again took part in the ancient tradition of commissioning weavers to depict hunting scenes.
Symbolically, hunting represented skill, bravery, and masculinity and was often directly associated specifically with nobility and the Persian royalty. For this reason, the majority of antique rugs depicting hunting scenes were created for royalty and were often made with more expensive materials like silk. They often feature very fine details and an attention to realism.