In the left picture you see a textile floor covering typically consisting of an upper layer of pile attached to a backing. You are surely aware of carpets but do you know which countries are the most famous ones for their carpets? First of all, Turkmenistan as it’s the only country in the world where a festival dedicated to their national carpets is held every year. Then comes Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey.
This article will tell you much about Armenian carpets. Armenia is one the few countries in the world where carpets have a long history of decades and are still popular. Carpet weaving has always been a traditional craft in the country. The archeological excavations revealed that the carpet weaving in Armenia had appeared in II – I millennium BC. It is important to note that the ancient technique, design, and colors are similar to those used in nowadays.
Interestingly enough, the word “carpet” has also changed in Armenian over time: In Armenian literature, as far back as the 5th century AD, in the translation of the Holy Bible the word “carpet” can be found. It has always been synonymous to the word “rug”. Another name is “khali” or “ghali” coming from the Arabic name Karin (Kalikala), the city famous for its carpet weaving art.
Armenian rugs used to have harmonic colors of red, white, blue, green, yellow and their variants. The yellow color came from the yellow flower, the red one from Armenian cochineal (vordan karmir) and from the roots of dyer’s madder (rubia tinctorum), green and some shades of brown came from nut peels. For black, pomegranate peels were used. For blue, the method of mixing different colors was implied. In the Medieval centuries, Armenian carpets were very famous for their shades made of vordan karmir, for which reason they were also called “red rugs”. One of the characteristics of Armenian rugs is «Balbas» sheep wool that was used as a raw material. Anchorian goat wool was also widely used.
The most beautiful characteristic features of Armenian rugs, however, are their ornaments. Armenian rugs had a lot of ritual, image and ideal ornaments. On many of them the tree of life, “an eagle” and “a cross” are depicted.
It is essential to know that Armenian rugs have never simply served as a household object but always had a great ritual meaning. This is why carpets are so important in Armenian culture. Throughout the ages, the carpets have been national symbols and have had unique historical and cultural value. There are carpets whose ornaments have memory and sometimes they carry the voices of the people of the past. Usually it was the old and sick member of the family who lied in the place where they had a carpet. There was difference between the rugs that were put on the floor and the rugs that were hung on the walls. Carpets with special ornament were hung on the walls and a lot of valuable things, musical instruments, and pictures of dead relatives were put on them. The ones put on the floor also had interesting ornaments but they didn’t have special ritual meanings or the symbols of their ancestors.
Perhaps the most widespread type of Armenian carpets is the “Vishapagorg”. Dragons were the most common symbols in Armenian Highlands. They were depicted in images as purely good forces and had a significance of protection and support. They did not always signify the bad or evil, but an element which can be both good and bad. But vishapagorgs also contained ornaments of the tree of life, phoenixes, and bad. But vishapagorgs also contained ornaments of the tree of life, phoenixes, and symbols of eternity. In fact, the tradition of weaving vishapagorgs in Armenian carpet art and the cultural system dates back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BC. And Armenians believed that if they had a Vishapagorg in their house; they would be safe from evil, as they have already conquered the dragon.
Now you will agree that Armenian carpets are unique in their type. Despite technological innovations Armenian carpets remains as an inseparable part of living and cultural heritage. The traditions of the Armenian carpet are still kept and will be kept always as convey an important message about Armenian history and culture.