The Romance of Carpets

The Somerset House Conference, Unknown master, 1604.
The Somerset House Conference, Unknown master, 1604.

 

His Majesty Jigme Singyme Wangchuck, the king of Bhutan, with four Buddhist lopons during a meeting in the king's throne room.
His Majesty Jigme Singyme Wangchuck, the king of Bhutan, with four Buddhist lopons during a meeting in the king's throne room. 

 Evening Prayer, Ettore Cercone, 1893
Evening Prayer, Ettore Cercone, 1893

 


Jennifer Beals in Flashdance

 

Weaver washing a rug in Iran
Weaver washing a rug in Iran

 

Clara Bow, the It girl, in Red Hair in 1928
Clara Bow, the It girl, in Red Hair in 1928 

 


Here, they park the carpets!

 

Lorenzo Lotto. The Charity of Saint Anthony, 1542
Lorenzo Lotto. The Charity of Saint Anthony, 1542

 

 Giovanni di Paolo. Madonna and Child with Two Angels and a Donor, 1445
Giovanni di Paolo. Madonna and Child with Two Angels and a Donor, 1445

 

Master of Saint Giles, 1500
Master of Saint Giles, 1500

 

Francis Wheatley. The Saithwaite Family, 1785
Francis Wheatley. The Saithwaite Family, 1785

 

  • The swastika design has been traditionally a symbol of good fortune and can be found on carpets from America, Europe, India, and China.
  • When properly cleaned and maintained, carpeting may improve the quality of air through trapping allergy-inducing dust and allergens. Most people, however, do not clean their carpets correctly, which can actually exacerbate allergies.
  • Muslim prayer carpets are often woven with motifs such as a mosque lamp (symbolic of Allah), the water basin (symbolic of ritual ablution), a stylized mountain (to symbolically elevate the worshipper), or even the sacred stone, the Kaaba in Mecca.
  • Although it is not known when the first carpets were produced, they were most likely being made centuries before Christ, probably by nomads in the heart of Central Asia as an attempt to insulate their tents. Over the centuries, carpet weaving was carried across Asia and into the Middle East by invading armies, traders, and migrating nomads.
  • The floral designs known as palmettes on oriental carpets are mostly derived from the lotus or peony. In regions of the world where water was a precious commodity, it is perhaps not surprising that flowers and fauna were the symbol of paradise.
  • Oriental carpets are usually rich with symbolism. For example, large Persian carpets often present a small-scale plan of a part of the universe: Heaven above, with Earth below. Carpets also featured an “X,” or an eight-petaled flower, which represents the Four Directions (and, by extension, the World itself). Other symbols include a sky door leading to Heaven and combs, which served as a reminder that Allah demands high standards of cleanliness.
  • Some common carpet motifs include various medallions (heraldic qualities and amulets), Boteh (a paisley pattern named after a Persian village), Herati (fish in the pond), a tree of life (a symbol predating both Islam and Christianity representing the connection between this world and paradise), stars, “shou and fu” (symbolizing long life and good luck), animals, birds, plants, and cloud bands.