The history of carpet making has no reliable source as in when it originated and in which part of the world. At present it is near to impossible to prove when the weaving custom rug did began though there are evidences found which shows that it could date back to as far as the Neolithic age i.e. 7000 BC. There were fragments of carpets found in various old civilization excavations that were very much similar with flat weave kilims; these were the first examples of carpet making which consisted of weft and wrap pattern of textile products. During those times the rugs were probably made by forming knots and gradually making it to a pile. The researchers and scientist says that it is highly possible that rug weaving originated in the dry steppe regions and the tribal nomadic people residing there were the one who first made them. Back then central Asia had large availability of land along with the proper climate to herd sheep which is why it has always been the first and the best place for rug weaving.
Since ages rugs or carpets has been used for various purposes, be it for floor covering, as blankets or cushion covers, tablecloths, and curtains and even for decorations. The wool rugs which are custom hand knotted last for years and they are often considered to be family heirlooms as their value increases with each passing years unlike the rest of things which degrades with time.
There is a rug exhibited in the St. Petersburg Hermitage museum in Russia which is the oldest example in the history of handmade rugs. The rug is still intact and it was an amazing discovery of the Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in 1949. This beautiful and fantastic Altai rug is known as Pazirik Rug and is proved to be woven during the 3rd century BC. The rug shows a nice blend of Turkish culture in it which made majority of experts around the world believe that there has always been a link between this rugs and the ancient Turkish culture. Not just this particular rug but there has been other findings as well found during the excavation of Pazirik Tumulus which shows resemblance with the Turkish civilization.
The rug making culture of Anatolia started when the Turkish tribes started settling in those areas that travelled from Central Asia and were already prone with carpet weaving culture. Since the people in Anatolia learned the weaving pattern from the Turkish tribes their rugs form a branch of beautiful ethnic Turkish rugs. You can see the living evidence of these types of rugs in the eighteen surviving pieces which was woven by Selcuk Turks. These rugs are the oldest examples of Anatolia rugs and were woven during the 13th century. The rug has motifs weaved into it which represents amazing stylized and geometrical patterns in it. They are weaved with varied colors and were woven in Konya, Kayseri and Sivas.
The mystifying art of carpet weaving that started in Turkish region by Selcuks continued its pattern till the Ottoman Turks. The period which lasted before the Ottoman Turks and after the Selcuk which is the transition period of 14th century there were rugs made during that time that had animal figures weaved into it. There is very few evidence of those rugs in present time although they can be clearly seen in paintings by famous painters of France, Dutch and Italy. Because of the fine animal figures weaved into it these type of rugs are called “Rugs with Animals”.
With the start of 15th century the patterns and designs of rugs changed and there were more animal motifs seen then there were before. The weavers started giving new dimensions to it with their own creativity blended into it, slowly there were rugs seen which had both animal motifs and geometrical patterns combined together. They were popular at the time as ‘Holbien Rugs’ as they could be seen in famous paintings of the German artist Hans Holbien. Presently there are no surviving examples of these rugs but the research could be carried out only through the paintings of Holbien. There are also various other paintings done by artist like Carpaccio, Carlo Crivelli, Lotto, Jaume Huguet etc. who had evidences of great carpets in their paintings and through which the researchers determine and study about these carpets. During the 15th century Brgama and Usak were the two centers which became the important destinations of weaving in western Anatolia.
The second most successful phase of Anatolia rug making started during the 16th century. The rugs that belonged to this period were famous as Classical Ottoman rugs and they used to be very famous and much in demand during those time. These rugs were also known as ‘Palace Rugs’ because before making these rugs the design and colors that would be sued to weave it would have to be sent to the palace artist and determined by them and only after that the weaving process takes place. The weaving of carpet during that time was as important as any other investment which is why the process of weaving was similar to that of the production of ceramic tile at that period.
The designs of the rugs during that period used to have twisted branches, colorful flowers like carnations, lotus, hyacinths, tulips and leaves. These beautiful set patterns are woven in a naturalistic style and they were basically the basic composition of the rug. Their design and pattern was later adopted by many other culture and regions and could be seen now in the famous Turkish rugs.
By the start of 16th century various centers were open and the industry started growing, places like Kula, gordes, Mucur, Bandirma, Gordes and Canakkale started getting famous and became important rug making centers along with Bergama and Usak. The rugs made in these areas are mostly found in the churches of Transylvania which is why they are also known in various parts as ‘Transylvanian Rugs’. By start of 19th century till 20th century the rugs that were being made in Hereke which is a region near Istanbul, started getting worldwide recognition and were very much in demand. These rugs were amongst the finest rugs and were originally woven only for the royal families like the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. At present the silk rugs of the most premium quality of the world are woven in Hereke region.
Every other region of country that weave carpets has their own style and pattern and along with it every artist has their own style of weaving as well which is why it becomes very easy to identify the rugs according to the region or village where they are weaved. Those rugs that are woven in the agricultural areas of Anatolia have learned the skill of carpet making from the settlers and the nomadic cultures which is why their carpets resemble a lot with the nomadic carpets. These types of carpets are mostly woven in wool yarns and are known as Anatolia rugs in Europe and its neighboring areas. Usually the town areas where people have settled permanently and have made carpet making their profession uses wool and cotton both to make the carpets.