Origins of ordinary things: Carpets

The Merriam-Webster word “carpet”, according to Wikipedia, an encyclopedia, is derived from “carpire” an old Italian verb which means “to pluck.” The carpet is an ornament which is used as a floor covering in homes, offices and other types of buildings to beautify, to reduce the noise effect of footsteps or protect feet from hard flooring.

The web-based Carpet Encyclopedia estimates that carpets have been in use for thousands of years. Asian nomads are said to have used carpets made of goat and sheep skin to protect themselves from cold winters, and for decorating their tents as early 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

According to Wonderopolis, an information site, the Pazyryk found in a Siberian burial mound in 1949 is the oldest carpet ever discovered. It is believed to be of Persian origin, dating back to 5th Century BC where it was used as a funeral accessory.

Although today’s carpets are used solely as floor coverings, Britannica, an encyclopedia theorises that in the early days, they were also exhibited on the wall. They were embroidered with beautiful patterns and affordable to a few people.

In 17th Century, the middle class in western countries increased and because of this, there was increased demand for high quality carpets embroidered with silver and gold. They were mainly made and imported from Persia. According to Medium, an information site, during the same time, western establishments such as the East India Company were set up in the Orient to manufacture carpets.

As with many other products, the industrial surge of the 18th Century made mass production of carpets possible, and according to the Carpet and Rug Institute of the United States of America, this is when many countries took it up. However, those who made carpets were keen to draw inspiration from the products made from Persia and countries in the Orient, such as India and Pakistan.

In the 20th Century, the use of wool gave way to synthetic fibre such as nylon because the latter was less expensive. This is according to Wikipedia. 

Unlike some ancient inventions, the carpet has not lost its popularity over the centuries. It seems to have an established popularity around the world. Moreover, in some instances, it’s even used as a symbol of honour. For instance, in many countries around the world, a red carpet welcome is given to important guests. Here, a long stretch of red carpet is usually laid out from the place where the guest is disembarking up to the entrance.

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