The History of Pazyryk Carpet

The Pazyryk carpet is the oldest known carpet in the world. It has been dated back to the 5th century B.C.

A Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko did discover this carpet in the tomb of a Scythian prince in the Pazyryk Valley of Siberia in the late 1940s.

It’s not older than the 4th century B.C. Also, the tomb itself dates back to the mid-3rd century B.C which means that the carpet was in use for quite a long period. As a consequence, it has wear marks.

over 2000 years ago, in the Pazyryk valley beneath the grasslands of the vast Ukok Plateau, located in the Altai mountains region of Russia, where the border of China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia meet, lived the Scythian peoples.     

Partly nomadic, partly settled, these Persian-speaking tribes raised huge herds of horses.  They used their horses to pull carriages and move their settlements and carry luxury goods. Moreover, in war, the horses made these mounted warriors almost impossible to conquer.  

Intricate gold and jewelry are some of the things the Scythians are best famous for, the second being the size of their royal tombs. Furthermore, known as Kurgans, these ancient burials mounds, some of which are up to 20 meters, were the final resting place for Scythian noblemen and their treasures.   

 According to the depiction which exists at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum today, the Pazyryk carpet decoration is extremely rich and varied and belongs to Scythian society. 

This carpet is really important for Pazyryk culture. According to the stylistic peculiarities of the details, it originates from the Persian empire.

The colorful carpet has 28 figures of men on horseback on one corner and animals on the other corner.

The colors of this ancient carpet are so vivid.

 The central field of the carpet is occupied by 24 cross-shape figures each of which consists of four lotus buds. The combination of blue, yellow, and red threads and the highest level of technical sophistication make it obvious that the Pazyryk carpet belongs to a historic-artistic tradition.

However, since the Pazyryk valley was located between active trade routes spanning the ancient world, it remains unknown up to the present day if that tradition belonged to the Scythians or was borrowed from the neighbors.

The discoverer of the Pazyryk carpet, Sergei Rudenko, concluded that it was a remnant from the Achaemenes empire. 

Most carpet scholars think that it most likely came from central Asia, either from Persia or Armenia.

However, its exact origin is still a mystery because both Persia and Armenia have long traditions of carpet weaving, although the horse represented on the rug are nearly identical to equestrians on the freeze in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis.

The thing that makes this carpet mysterious is how it has been well kept for so long. One reason is that it was found frozen in a block of ice. So, it was frozen in time but scientists have been trying to figure out how even that was possible.

The Pazyryk carpet also had pretty bad conditions because it was buried in a burial in the Siberian permafrost for more than 2000 years. People expect that it would somehow leach a bit that there would be more damage, but as you see from the pictures it’s still really gorgeous. Especially the red color is still extremely strong. So, there is a hypothesis that this might have something to do with this fermentation technique that people are still using in some parts of Iran at the moment.  

Some scientists scanned this carpet by using an electron microscope and analyzed the materials science samples in a solar cell business. They figured out that this carpet is very special and it has very prestigious samples.

Today, countless replicas of the Pazyryk carpet are produced by crafty weavers all around the world, using natural dyes and handspun wool.

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