Archive for September, 2009

The First Shaped Rugs – with apologies to Charles Lamb

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Early men almost certainly used animal skins to keep the chill off their feet – and the rest of their bodies. One day, a housewife was tidying up the cave again, and she collected all the shreds of wool and fur that had fallen off the skins. Being of a saving disposition, she stashed the bits in a corner and carried on. The same thing happened most days, and she continued to push the loose threads into the corner.
Eventually, when the skins were pretty well bare, she threw them out and demanded her husband get some new ones. He complained (of course), but went off with his buddies, their clubs over their shoulders, to see what they could bash.
While they were away, the housewife wanted something soft for the baby to sit on, so she pulled out the large bundle of wool and settled the baby on it near the fire. Was she annoyed when the baby did what babies do, and she had to put the warm, wet, squashed wool outside the cave! The surprise came the next day, when the damp lump had become a thick, soft pad (though smelling strongly of baby).
After that, she collected the wool and fur more carefully and each time she had a bundle big enough, she sat the baby on it, producing another pad of felt, so in a fairly short time she had enough for a rug for everyone to sit on. The idea caught on, and the demand grew for loose wool – and babies, until one day a housewife with a strong sense of smell tried spilling hot water on the wool instead, and felt was born that could be used in any shape to make all sorts of large and small rugs.

The Most Beautiful Persian Rug in the World

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Once upon a time there was a king of Persia, who was also a god and had to make sure his land was fertile and fruitful. I don’t know how successful he was, but he certainly knew how to impress people with his power and potency. His name was King Chosroes and he lived round the beginning of the 7th century A.D.

When kings or ambassadors visited him, they were taken to a state room where the enormous curtains were drawn back to flood with light the fabled large rug of silk called The Spring of Chosrow. Sadly, it has not survived, but reports of it leave us a marvellous picture.

It was around 25.6 metres square, representing a formal garden, with water courses, paths, rectangular flower beds filled with flowers, and blossoming shrubs and fruit trees. Gold represented yellow gravel, while pearls and different jewels made the blossoms, fruit and birds. The word ‘paradise’ comes ultimately from the Persian word for ‘an enclosed garden’, and the shaped rug had a wide outer border representing a meadow – made of emeralds close enough together to form a solid band.

It wouldn’t match the decoration in my house – what a pity!