The Fascinating Story Behind the World's Most Famous Rug
Sometimes the very best things come in pairs.
That’s a sentiment which certainly applies to one of the world’s most famous rugs: the Ardabil Carpet. The story behind this priceless rug is truly intriguing, and goes to show just how much history can be imbued in a simple collection of coloured fibres. In today’s blog post, we’re digging into the truth behind the Ardabil Carpet… so let’s start at the beginning.
Where it all began
The Ardabil Carpet is a name that actually refers to a pair of carpets, both made in Iran in the mid-16th Century. It’s unknown exactly where the carpets were made, but best guesses place it around the Tabriz area in Iran. The carpets began their life as part of a mosque in Ardabil – hence their current name – until they were sold to a British carpet specialist in the late 1800s. By this point, both of the carpets had become very worn and discoloured, and it was here that the carpets became one.
Making one from two
So how did the Ardabil Carpet go from being a pair to just the one? Well, due to the degradation of the carpets over the 100+ years in the mosque, extensive repairs would have been required. However, because of the intricate craftsmanship and specific materials used in the carpets, doing these repairs would have been impossible in England. As such, the carpets’ owner decided to use the smaller of the two to repair the larger one. During this process, the second carpet became almost unrecognisable, and was apparently sold to an American then bought and sold a number of times.
Finding the Ardabil Carpet today
The second smaller (and now almost unrecognisable) rug has ended up at a museum in Los Angeles, whereas the main carpet is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This rug is very large, with dimensions of over 10 metres x 3 metres. In terms of its material, the London rug is made from a foundation of silk with wool pile. One of the reasons the Ardabil Carpet is so valuable is that it bears an inscription penned by the Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi. This, combined with its long and varied history, make the carpet a truly unique and priceless piece.
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