The art of making carpets was probably developed on the plains of Central Asia several thousand years ago. The nomads needed some protection from the cold winters, something more easily handled than the sheepskin coverings. At the same time they were also making decorations for their tents. The materials used for the warp, weft and pile came from the herds of goats and flock of sheep.
The looms, in their simplest form, were made of two wooden ribs which were secured to the ground and between them the warp was fastened. These horizontal looms, which are still used today by the nomads, have the advantage that they fold easily and can be moved to the next camp ground.
The patterns on these early carpets were composed of geometrical or curvilinear motifs.
The handmade carpets are made of transient materials and very old discoveries are rare. The oldest known carpet was found in the year of 1947 at excavations in Siberia. After its place of discovery the carpet is named the Pazyryk-carpet or the Gorny-Altai carpet. It measures 183×200 cm and has a knot density of approximately 360 000 knots per square meter. Its making is tremendous and the carpet has a higher knot density than most carpets seen in stores today. The pattern is very interestering, the middle consists of a ribbon motif, in the border you can see a procession with deers and in another border warriors on horses. This carpet was probably manufactured in Armenia or Persia around 400 B.C. When it was found it had been deeply frozen in a block of ice, which is why it is so well-preserved. The carpet can be seen at the “The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia“.
In the 16th century, during the protection of the emperors, the art of carpets was developed in Persia and in India both technically and artistically, for example in court workshops. During this period originates the most splendid, perhaps the most famous rug in the world, the Ardabil carpet, which can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It measures 534×1152 cm and is probably manufactured in the city of Kashan in Persia by Maqsud. The carpet dates back to the year 946 after islam count, which is 1539 A.D. and it took three years for five weavers to complete the carpet, which was ordered by Shah Tahmasp for the Sheikh Safi mosque.
Originally there were two carpets but one was sacrificed in order to repair the other. The best preserved carpet can be seen at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The remaining parts of the sacrificed rug can be viewed at the Los Angeles County Museum, USA. The carpet is made by persian knots, pile of wool, warp and weft by silk; with a knot density of 518.000 knots per square meter. The carpet was sold in the 19th century in order to pay for repairs of the great mosque in Ardabil, north of Persia.
At “The Museum of National Antiquities in Sweden” you can see the “Marby Carpet”. This carpet is made in Turkey in the beginning of the 15th century and was brought to Stockholm via a small village named Marby.
Perhaps the most premier treasure at Stockholm Castle is the persian hunting rug from late 16th century. This carpet was probably brought to Sweden from the sovereign house of Holstein-Gottorp as part of the future queen Hedvig Eleonoras bridesdress before her marriage with Karl X Gustav.