The History of Carpet

Believe it or not, carpets have been around for centuries, and they’ve played a starring role in some of the most important moments in human history.

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably think of your carpet as a necessity – something that is just there, doing its job and not warranting much more thought. However, did you know that carpets have a long and storied history?

Believe it or not, carpets have been around for centuries, and they have played a starring role in some of the most important moments in human history. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the history of carpets, from their humble beginnings all the way to the present day. So whether you’re curious about where your carpet came from or just want to learn more about this important piece of home decor, read on!

Table of contents

Who invented the carpet?

As it turns out, perhaps for as long as people have been sitting down, they’ve wanted somewhere soft to sit! Archeologists have found that as far back as 2,000 or 3,000 B.C. there were some types of carpets that were made for sitting on the ground. The material of these mats was sheep wool or goat hair. It’s unknown exactly who invented these early versions of the carpet.

The Pazyryk carpet, which is believed to be the world’s earliest known existing carpet, dates back to the 5th century B.C. It was discovered in a Scythian prince’s tomb in Siberia by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in the late 1940s, although its true origin of where it was brought from and why remains unknown.

Image of the Pazyryk Rug. Source: mattcamron.com

The carpet survived 25 centuries because its burial place was pillaged and left open, turning the material into a block of ice that aided in its preservation. Among the figures woven into the carpet are deer, rabbits, and horseback riders.

The first proper carpet, as such, is believed to have been made in Persia (now Iran) sometime around the 6th century AD. This early carpet was made from wool and was used to cover the floors of wealthy homes.

Carpet didn’t really become popular in Europe until the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries, when knights returning from the Holy Land brought with them beautiful Oriental rugs. These rugs were so prized that only nobility could afford them.

In the 14th century, weavers in Flanders (now part of Belgium) began to produce carpets of their own, and these carpets quickly became popular throughout Europe. Unlike the Oriental rugs that had come before them, Flemish carpets were made from wool and cotton, which made them more affordable and accessible to the average person.

By the 16th century, carpet was so popular that it was being used to decorate not just homes but also public spaces like churches and castles. Some of the most famous carpets from this era are the Axminster carpets, which were made in England and exported all over the world.

During the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, carpet-making became even more efficient and widespread. New machine-made carpets were cheaper and easier to produce than ever before, and they quickly became a staple in homes across Europe and North America.

Carpet in the United States

The carpet business in the United States began in 1791, when William Sprague opened the country’s first woven carpet factory in Philadelphia. Others appeared during the early 1800s in New England. Beattie Manufacturing Company, which operated until 1979 and was located near Little Falls, New Jersey, was one of them.

In 1839, Erastus Bigelow revolutionized the industry when he created the power loom for weaving carpets. The first year after its invention, Bigelow’s loom increased carpet production by twofold- and then tripled it within ten years! The loom is now part of the Smithsonian Institution’s collections. Bigelow was a remarkable man. After the success of his power loom, he continued to devote his life to invention and innovation, receiving 35 patents between 1839 and 1876. In 1877, Bigelow presented the first broadloom carpet.

Leveraging Technology to Meet Growing Demand

The Jacquard mechanism was first used in a power loom with Brussels weaving technology that was created in 1849, and the Clinton Company of Massachusetts produced the first Brussels carpet. The Brussels loom was slightly modified to allow for Wilton carpet production. Bigelow Carpet Company was formed by combining the Hartford Carpet Company with the Clinton Company at a later period.

The Shuttleworth Brothers Company was founded in Amsterdam, New York, by four brothers in 1878 with the intention of manufacturing carpets. Karnak Wilton, the company’s new carpet, was unveiled in 1905 and instantly became a hit. Karnak production was flooding the market with orders, so a new facility had to be built just for that purpose. Weavers spent four and five years on their looms without altering the color or design. In 1920, the Shuttleworth Brothers Company merged with McCleary Wallin & Crouse, an Amsterdam-based carpet firm. The new business was named Mohawk Carpet Mills after the Mohawk River that runs through the city.

In 1845, Alexander Smith began operating a carpet manufacturing facility in West Farms, New York. In 1876, an American by the name of Halcyon Skinner invented the power loom for producing Royal Axminster. The two men collaborated to form a very successful carpet business. Alexander Smith was elected to the House of Representatives in 1878, but he died on Election Day. At the time of his death, Alexander Smith & Sons had 1600 workers. After his death, the company continued on. During World War I, the machinery belonging to the company were converted to make war supplies. After the war, the company continued to grow until in 1929, Alexander Smith & Sons was the world’s largest carpet and rug producer.

Transitioning Away from Wool

Until around 1954, cotton was the only fiber utilized in tufted carpeting. Textile men in Dalton began to experiment with and include wool and manmade fibers into their products gradually, including polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylics. Nylon was introduced in 1947 and quickly grew to dominate the market. Polyester was first utilized in 1965, followed soon by polypropylene (olefin).

The advent of bulk continuous filament nylon yarns, according to most manufacturers, is without a doubt the industry’s most significant advancement. Cotton, on the other hand, was a more affordable and less durable alternative that required much less labor. The result was a carpeting with a superior look and feel to similar wool goods that was far more cost-effective to produce.

Carpet first became popular in the United States in the early 20th century. At this time, there was a growing interest in Oriental carpets and rugs, and many American consumers were eager to buy these imported goods. In addition, carpet-making technology was rapidly advancing, which made it possible to produce cheaper and more accessible carpets.

During the 1950s and 1960s, shag carpets became all the rage in the United States. These thick, textured carpets were perfect for stylish homes of the era, and they remain popular to this day.

In the late 20th century and early 21st century, carpet has continued to evolve. New synthetic materials and production techniques have made it possible to create carpets that are more durable, stain-resistant, and affordable than ever before. As a result, carpet remains one of the most popular flooring options for homes and businesses around the world.

Which country is famous for carpets?

The history of carpets can be traced back to Persia (now Iran), but other countries have become known for carpetings, each with their own version of carpet down through the centuries.

Oriental rugs are most associated with Persia (now Iran), although they were made in other countries as well. Flemish carpets from the 14th to 16th centuries, for example, were also popular and highly sought-after. More recently, Navajo rugs from the United States have become quite famous.

Which culture is known as carpet culture?

Famous carpet styles from different regions of the world include:

  • Persian
  • Afghani
  • Pakistani
  • Baluchi
  • Indo
  • Tibetan
  • Turkish
  • Chinese
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Indian
  • Scandinavian
  • Turkmen
  • Uyghur
  • Spanish
  • Serbian
  • Bulgarian
  • French
  • English
  • Axminster,
  • and even North African

“Carpet culture” typically refers to a culture where carpet is produced. It can be treated as fine craftsmanship and the weavers are like local celebrities, as artists in their own right. Aspects that contribute to a place having this type of culture include a place famous for dyes, for art and an appreciation for art among the general population, and, historically, a need for ingenuity and hard workers.

Weaving carpets requires a lot of effort, especially before the industrial revolution where much of it was done by hand with the help of a loom.

How did carpet get its name?

Carpet didn’t always have its current name- in fact, it’s a relatively new term! The word as we know it today, “carpet”, is thought to have first appeared in English sometime in the late 16th century. It comes from the Modern French word “carpette”, which itself comes from the Old French word “carpite”, which in turn comes from the Latin word “carpeta”, meaning “a little something thrown down on the ground to sit on”.

The word transformed over time from carpeta in Latin to French and then to old English in the late 1300s, entering the English language shortly after William the Conqueror brought French to the British Isles. The word became more popular over time, through to the 1500s when it became “carpet”, as we know it today.

More History yet to be Written

Today, carpet is more popular than ever. It is available in a wide range of colors, styles, and materials to suit any taste or budget, and it continues to play an important role in both homes and businesses around the world.

So there you have it – a brief history of carpet! Whether you’ve been walking on carpets for years or are just now considering adding one to your home, we hope this article has given you a new appreciation for this humble yet essential piece of home decor!

The history of carpet is a long and fascinating one- so next time you’re walking on your carpet, take a moment to think about all the history that’s been woven into it!

Contact us today if you’d like to speak with one of our carpet specialists about a carpet cleaning appointment in your neighborhood of the Atlanta area!

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