The Story of Armenian Carpet
Armenian traditional carpets
were normally woven using
the Armenian ''double knot ''.
The red color of Armenian carpets was made from "vordan karmir" or "worm's red" dyestuff. The fact that "vordan karmir" dye was used in making of the oldest surviving carpet "Pazyryk" is a perfect example of this and has already been proven by the scientists in particular by I. Rudenko. "Pazyryk" dates back to the 5-4th centuries B.C. and can be seen nowadays at the Hermitage museum. Arab historians noted that Armenian carpets were the most valuable because they were made from high-quality wool and were dyed with durable "vordan karmir" pigment. This also explains why Armenian carpets were known in the Arab world as "kirmiz" (red).
Armenian carpets owed their high-quality also to the wool of ''Balbas'' sheep that were raised in the Armenian Highlands. Historical facts and various sources tell us about wool's unique quality and gloss. The Angora goat wool was widely popular in the Western Armenia. In the historical regions of Armenia where cotton and silk thread production was developed, both cotton and silk thread were also used in carpet weaving. In particular, cotton and silk were popular in the southern parts of Artsakh, Meghri and Nakhichevan; silk was used in Kharberd; and cotton – in the eastern regions of Vaspurakan and Ararat valley.
Besides carpets various ancient carpet weaving tools and so called bone 'ktutich's (2-1st millennia B.C.) were found at the territory of historical Armenia. Archeological excavations discovered spindle heads (Shirakavan, Argishtikhinili), needles (Shirakavan, Noyemberyan), clay fragments with fabric patterns, a Bronze Age weaver machine and tools (Shirakavan, Lchashen, Argishtikhinili), a woolen clew (Karmir Blur). This was also cited by Assyrian sources (Ashurnasirpal of Assyria (9th century B.C.) and Sargon 2nd (8th century B.C.) mention captured fabrics and attires).Carpet loom is a device used to weave carpets, rugs, and cloth. The device to weave carpets (loom) is a big machine which is known to us from the 14th century lithographic sources. Until 70s of the 19th century a perpendicular wedge-shaped old loom was popular in Armenia.
Decorative patterns and designs used in Armenian carpets were popular already in the early Christian period. They are best represented in the Armenian miniature art, as well as in the other areas of the Armenian applied arts such as architecture, sculpture, embroidery, cross-stones, wood and stone art, jewelry, national costumes and so on. Examples of such designs are the Armenian sign of eternity and the dragon sign.
The earliest remark about carpet weaving is found in the "Anabasis" by a 5th century B.C. Greek historian Xenophon. On his way back from Western Asia to Thrace Xenophon was invited by Seuthes to a feast. He wrote, "Timasion who had cups and barbarian carpets drunk to Seuthes and presented him with a silver cup and a carpet...". The fact that the 10000 Greek army retreated through the territory of the historical Armenia and that the historian mentioned barbarian carpets and not Greek "tapis" give us some grounds to suggest that the carpet given to Seuthes should have been Armenian.