A Magic Carpet Ride


We’ve all watched the famous Disney film where Aladdin steals Jasmine’s heart as he “shows her the world” on his magic carpet ride. Although there is no such thing as a flying magic carpet to sweep a special someone off their feet, the value and tradition of Persian carpet making can be dated back to 2,500 years ago in Middle Eastern culture. The limitless patterns and representation of a rich and ancient history has kept the popularity of the Persian rug alive through today.

Traditionally the process of hand making Persian carpets was an intricate trade passed down by men to their sons, but now, it is a common practice that has expanded from Iran and Istanbul in the Middle East, to China, all the way to Europe and the United States in the west.

The oldest carpet found originated in 5th century BCE, but the widespread interest in the product wasn’t prominent until Cyrus the Great had conquered Babylon in 539 BC, and even then, they were a symbol of wealth only seen in homes of the elite. Originally, the weaved carpets were made of sheep’s wool and consisted of basic geometric patterns unlike the sophisticated and unique designs you would see today. For quite some time, the craft of carpet weaving was only known amongst small villages that kept the tradition alive until the 19th century reign of Qajar, when the practice became westernized.

Named after the city of Ardabil and in the honor of the Sufi leader, Safi al-Din Ardabili, in north-western Iran, remains one of the oldest and most treasured of Iranian carpets, Ardabil. The famous piece is now art, located at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 25 million knots makes up the beautiful carpet that documents deep history with Islamic inscriptions reminding viewers of what it stands for and when it was made.

Although in recent times the rugs have become a commodity seen in almost every household throughout Iran and the Middle East, different versions of the rug can increase the price, essentially affordable to only the wealthiest of buyers. These forms of the good are generally made from silk and retain value based upon age. The older it is, the pricier the antique becomes, and the more likely it will serve as a tapestry versus a rug. Today, technology has allowed for an increase in the mass production of rugs, making hand made rugs a rarity and less affordable to the common household.

The Persian Rug brings ancient culture and lively colors into the home, and not only represents a place to rest your feet, but an emblem of the vast and complex history of Islamic culture.

http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/the-ardabil-carpet.html

http://www.iranchamber.com/art/articles/brief_history_persian_carpet.php

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7 thoughts on “A Magic Carpet Ride

  1. I really liked this blog because when growing up, having a magic carpet was all I could think about. My mom and I went from store to store searching for the perfect, old rug for me to call my magic carpet. I finally found one after a long search and never let it out of my sight. Now, I have always thought magic carpets had no significance besides what was thought up in a Disney movie and it is really interesting to find out that they were actually very traditional and a symbol of wealth.

  2. This was a very interesting read. I never really thought about the significance of the magic carpet in Aladdin before now. It’s interesting that the carpet was found with all of the jewels, and I can’t help but think that Disney did this since only the elite used to have these carpets in their homes. I never knew that there was so much history behind something that seems so simple on the outside. It just goes to show that there are so many hidden messages that we generally glaze over.

  3. I have always been oddly fascinated with rugs, and your article intrigued me. I decided to look up pictures of these types of rugs, and they truly are beautiful. The patterns, and materials that make up each one are unique and captivating.

  4. Very interesting topic! Rugs have always fascinated me, and it was interesting to learn about the cultural and societal origins that they have. My mom is someone who really loves rugs as well, and I’m sure she would love this post. It’s interesting to consider how typical things in your home or life could have backgrounds in cultures that you had never known!

  5. I’m going to join in and say that I too love rugs, but have never really considered their origins. Specifically, the Persian rug, which provokes such strong imagery of the Middle East and magic carpet rides, etc., stands out to me as being a beautiful symbol and decorative piece. It makes sense that these ornate rugs would be a representation of wealth, as they were/are definitely used for more than just practicality. I love learning about the historical contexts of things like this, and I really enjoyed this post!

  6. Being from Cleveland I remember as a kid my mom taking my brothers and I to the Cleveland Art Museum. Our favorite room was the one with the shiny silver armor in it. But it was not the armor that amazed me but, the massive rugs and tapestries that hung on the walls. They had woven pictures of beautiful women and heroic looking men; the detail was as though I was staring at a painting. Rug making has been around for a long time and it is so interesting to see how each culture put their own spin on such an art.

  7. Good job bringing everything together in this article. I like how you tied in the culture and ancestral aspects of rugs in this story. It was a well planned out article. I like how you included facts like the date of the oldest carpet ever found. I found it interesting how carpets used to be a symbol of wealth and now they are very inexpensive compared to other materials like wood or granite that are now more popular. I really enjoyed reading this article nice job!

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