The 20th century is well known for many of its absolutely incredible archeological finds. One of these findings was so incredible that it changed everything we’d ever thought we knew before: The Pazyryk Carpet.
Every carpet has a meaning and a story told by each and every motif. However the Pazyryk Carpet is the envy of all in the colorful and enchanting stories that arise out of its beauty.
During a 1949 archeological excavation in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, a grave of a Scythian prince was discovered. Due to the climate and wealth of the prince, many incredible items in remarkably well-preserved states were found dating all the way back to the 5th century BC. Of the 2,000 year old artifacts found in the grave, the one that drew the most attention was and still is undoubtedly the Pazyryk Carpet.
While the sheer motifs, beauty and luster of the carpet draws immediate attention, its meaning and import of course go well beyond its beauty. Embedded in its 36 symmetrical knots per cm² (232 per inch²) are motifs that largely resemble those found in more modern works, changing what we’ve believed the history of Central Asia, Turkish and Persian rugs and artistry forever.
As in many well-known kilims or carpets, the motifs cut an often abstract figure and for these to be so similar to a carpet made 2,000 years before gives even modern motifs a more profound symbolism, as well as increasing the interest in the ancient. These show a great similarity with modern Turkmen carpets in particularly, though this goes beyond just the motifs as the weaving techniques bear striking similarity. Turkish knotting and weaving techniques are well-known in carpet literature, but what we can now say is that the Turkmen weaving culture extends much farther back than previously believed.
Now when you look at modern motifs in detail, you can see all the way back through human history as these motifs are just reflections of the oldest of beliefs. The Pazyryk Carpet and similar findings are what allows us to shine a light on previously obscure parts of the past.