Carpet has a long and storied history, with one of its earliest examples coming from Siberia. In 1949, a Russian archeologist, Sergei Rudenko opened a 2500-year-old burial tomb (kurgan) belonging to the Scythian people. This tomb is located in the high steppes of Mongolia at 5400’, where the Scythians buried their warriors and royalty.
Most of these tombs were robbed of their rich loot. When the tomb that housed the Pazyryk Rug was robbed, water seeped through the tons of rock atop the tomb and completely froze everything inside the massive grave. It is because of this completely frozen and dark environment, that the Pazyryk Rug was wonderfully preserved for over two and half millenniums.
The details captured on the fabric, which is believed to be the world’s most ancient pile carpet, are impressive: 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of 4 stylized lotus buds, a border of griffins, followed by another one of 24 fallow deer and widest border with 28 figures of men on horseback.
The symbols within this magnificent carpet speak to the Scythians deep connection with the metaphysical, celestial, and animal kingdoms.
While the glowing carpet’s colors have faded, the details can still be made out.
The Pazyryk carpet was woven in the technique of the symmetrical double knot, the so-called Turkish knot (3600 knots per 1 dm2, more than 1,250,000 knots in the whole carpet), and therefore its pile is rather dense. The dimensions are 200×182 cm.
The story of Pazyryk’s carpet, now housed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, once again demonstrates the importance of Persian carpets not only as decorative objects, but also as real artwork, endowed with intrinsic value.