A Rich History
Did you know that the oldest, preserved carpet is dated back to the 5th Century, B.C.E?
This rug, known as the Pazyryk carpet, was discovered in the tomb of a Scythian Prince in Siberia, Russia. Typically, rugs and carpets don’t last thousands of years, but the Pazryryk carpet was preserved because it was exposed to the extremely cold Siberian climate when someone robbed the grave and left it open.
While this is the oldest preserved carpet that still lives, the origins of carpet transcend further into the past, and are believed to originate around 7000 B. C. E (aka, about nine thousand years ago). These early history rugs were likely to be made of goat hair and/or sheep wool, and hand made by either tying intricate knots, or by weaving the hair into a loom.
Originally, people would make carpets so they had a comfier place to sit in their homes. Those who weaved often, or were exceptionally talented, would often create ornate, high-quality carpets that could be used as dowries for marriages, methods of payment for taxes or livestock.
Carpet wasn’t normalized in Europe until 1095 AD, when passage through the Middle East became a common route for European tourists, crusaders, and those seeking trade. However, shortly after, rugs and carpet were all the rage for Europeans. However, these “carpets” were all more comparable to area rugs, meaning that that didn’t cover the entire floor.
An American Innovation
Carpet, as we know it, didn’t come into existence until 1791 when a Philadelphian man named William P. Sprague invented the first carpet mill. Forty-eight years later, Erastus Bigelow invented the power loom- which was able to weave carpet much more efficiently, and therefore doubled carpet production levels. The invention of the powerloom allowed carpet to become popularized, and produced in high quantities all around the world.
However, these were still quite different than the carpet we know because it was almost exclusively made out of wool and was weaved (similar to the soft/smooth texture of the traditional “Oriental” rugs discussed previously).
The soft, “fluffy” textured carpet didn’t come into existence until the early 20th century, when a resident of Dalton, Georgia, by the name of Catherine Evans made a hand-crafted bed spread as a gift. This bed spread had thick, cotton yarn sewn into a muslin fabric. The yarn was then clipped to be soft, fluffy, and airy tufts. These bedspreads became incredibly popular across the US, and many families in Dalton adopted bed-spread making as their main source of income, and it allowed many to stay afloat during the Great Depression.
However, the demand didn’t stop then and at bed spreads, but bled into a demand for carpet. Mills were established, and broadloom carpet was invented. Time and technology advanced, and synthetic fibers were invented, which soon were used in carpets. As a matter of fact, most carpets today are made of either nylon, rayon, polyester, and acrylic.
Today, Dalton, Georgia is still the carpet capital of the world. This city manufactures over 70% of the worlds carpet.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the historical origins of carpet. For more fascinating information on flooring, subscribe to our newsletter or check back here.
At Northern Colorado Carpets, we are thrilled to fulfill flooring needs in the Fort Collins area, regardless of what kind of flooring they choose. We have many excellent choices to select from, and we would be happy to help you determine the best flooring options for you. Give us a call at (970) 266-6800 for assistance today.
Avalon Flooring. (n.d.) History of Carpet. Avalon Flooring Blog. https://www.avalonflooring.com/ideas/blog/history-of-carpet#:~:text=The%20very%20first%20carpet%20were,exactly%20where%20is%20still%20unknown.
Home Stratosphere. (May 26, 2021). Who Invented Carpet? -The History of Carpet. Home Stratosphere. https://www.homestratosphere.com/who-invented-carpet/
Wonderopolis. (n.d.) Who Invented Carpet? Wonderopolis: Wonder of the Day #1554. https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/who-invented-carpet