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Imagine walking into a room and instantly feeling a sense of warmth, comfort, and aesthetic appeal. That’s the transformative power rugs and carpets wield.
Yet, beyond their practical use and decorative allure, the world of rugs and carpets is replete with fascinating facts and history. And most importantly, the rug realm has trivia that many are not privy to.
From the origin of the word ‘rug’ to the astronomical sums fetched by rare rugs at auctions, these rug and carpet facts give intriguing insights and surprising tidbits that underscore the intricate, expansive, and richly storied tapestry of the rug and carpet industry.
1. The Most Expensive Rug Sold for $33.7 Million
The most expensive rug ever sold is a 17th-century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet. This is an exquisite Persian carpet that set the world record at an astonishing $33.7 million at Sotheby’s auction in 2013.
The rug’s complex and beautiful design represents the peak of Persian Safavid Court weavers’ craftsmanship. In addition, it creates a timeless masterpiece that offers a peek into the high standards of art and creativity prevalent during the era.
2. Carpet Weaving Accounts for a Significant Portion of the Handicraft Economy in Iran
An intricate tapestry of history, tradition, and cultural significance, carpet weaving is an integral part of Iran’s social fabric.
Representing about 30% of the handicraft economy in the country, this trade, rooted in ancient times, has evolved into a robust industry.
More than one million weavers, often working from home or in small cooperative workshops, continue the tradition and perpetuate the status of Iran as the world’s top carpet exporter.
3. The Largest Carpet in the World is in the United Arab Emirates
The world’s largest handmade carpet is a sight to behold. It resides in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Covering an area of 60,546 square feet, this monumental carpet is a testament to craftsmanship, hard work, and dedication. Approximately 1,200 weavers, knotting experts, and other artisans in Iran worked to create it. It was then transported in pieces to the mosque.
4. The ‘Carpet of Wonder’ in Oman Took 16 Years to Complete
Considered one of the most intricate carpets ever made, the ‘Carpet of Wonder‘ is housed in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman. This extensive carpet stretches to dimensions of 226ft by 262ft. It took 16 years to weave by a diligent team of 600 weavers.
The resulting masterpiece is a testament to patience, craftsmanship, and artistic vision.
5. The First Known Reference to a Rug is Over 2500 Years Old
The first known reference to a rug is as ancient as civilization itself. Dating back to approximately 500 B.C., cuneiform inscriptions provide evidence of rugs in the Persian Empire during the reign of Cyrus the Great.
6. The Ardabil Carpet Holds the Record for the Number of Knots
The Ardabil Carpet, a renowned Persian masterpiece, stands unrivaled in its intricacy with over 30 million hand-tied knots. Created in 1539-40 A.D., this historical piece is a prime example of the exquisite craftsmanship and detail-oriented work that goes into Persian carpet making.
Today, this remarkable carpet decorates the floor of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. It inspires millions of visitors each year with its grandeur and history.
7. The Pazyryk Rug is the Oldest Known Surviving Carpet
The Pazyryk Rug holds the title for being the oldest known surviving carpet in the world. Found preserved in a Scythian burial mound in the Siberian Altai mountains, this rug dates back to the 5th century BCE.
Its elaborate designs and superb condition give us insights into the sophisticated state of carpet weaving and dyeing techniques over 2500 years ago.
8. The Phrase “To Sweep Something Under the Rug” Originated in 1963
Language and culture are deeply interwoven with our everyday objects, including rugs. The idiomatic phrase “to sweep something under the rug” came into existence in 1963. It metaphorically refers to the act of hiding something unsightly or uncomfortable, just like physically sweeping dirt under a rug.
This phrase underlines how rugs have permeated not just our homes but also our linguistic expressions.
9. Dalton, Georgia, is The Carpet Capital of the World
Dalton, Georgia, gained prominence in the late 1800s as the epicenter of the carpet industry. Due to its rich history and continued dominance in the carpet industry, Dalton is often referred to as the “Carpet Capital of the World.”
Home to more than 150 carpet plants, the city plays a significant role in the global carpet and rug industry. This underscores the economic significance of this trade.
10. Erastus Bigelow’s Impact on the Carpet Industry
In 1839, Erastus Bigelow invented a power loom that was capable of weaving carpets. This was a groundbreaking innovation that revolutionized the carpet industry.
Bigelow’s invention dramatically increased the rate of carpet production. In addition, it made carpets more accessible to a wider demographic and set the stage for the flourishing carpet industry of the modern era.
11. Rugs Where Used as Saddles and Medals of Honor
In some cultures, rugs were more than just decorative items for the home. They were used as saddles, providing comfort for both the rider and the horse. These saddle rugs were often beautifully designed and elaborately crafted.
When the horses died, in recognition of their service, the owners used to bury the rugs with them as a medal of honor.
This practice illustrates the diverse uses of rugs and their cultural significance across different societies
12. The Word “Rug” Comes From Norse Languages
The term “rug” has a long and intriguing etymological journey. It derives from the Old Norse word “rogg” meaning “shaggy tuft.” This is quite fitting, as the earliest rugs were indeed coarse, shaggy, and tufted for warmth.
Over the centuries, the term “rogg” evolved into the Middle English “rugge” and finally to the modern word “rug” we use today.
This linguistic evolution of the term “rug” is an interesting reflection of the evolution of the object itself, from primitive floor coverings to the diverse and refined pieces of decor we know today.
13. Size of the Rug and Carpet Industries
The rug and carpet industries are massive global sectors that touch every part of the world. It is estimated that the global carpet and rug market size was valued at USD 50.29 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 106.01 billion by 2030.
This vast industry comprises manufacturing, distribution, and retail sectors, all contributing to a vast network of production and sales that span the globe.
14. Annual Carpet and Rug Production Volume
On a yearly basis, the volume of rugs and carpets produced worldwide is staggering. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that approximately 11.4 billion square feet of carpet were manufactured in 2020. That’s enough carpet to cover over 200,000 football fields!
And this is just in the U.S. When you add in the production figures from other carpet manufacturing giants such as China, India, and Iran, it’s clear that carpet and rug production is a major industry with a significant global footprint.
15. Rug and Carpet, The Terminology
While the terms “rug” and “carpet” are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between rugs and carpets. Traditionally, a “carpet” refers to a floor covering that extends wall-to-wall and is affixed to the floor.
A “rug,” on the other hand, is not affixed and does not cover the entire floor. In addition, rugs have a more versatile use, such as hanging on walls for decorative purposes or laying over tables.