As much as we love wooden flooring, there’s nothing quite like kicking your shoes off after a hard day’s work and feeling your feet sink into the soft pile of carpet. This got us thinking here at NH Flooring about where this humblest of life’s pleasures first originated.
There is much debate about the exact origins of the carpet but most historians agree it was likely sometime in between the 3rd or 2nd millennium BC (Bronze Age) in West Asia. The oldest surviving carpet pile is Pazyryk carpet which dates from the 5th-4th Century. The carpet features an intricate design woven in vibrant red and gold threads and is thought to have come from Armenia as it is woven using a technique known as the Armenian double knot and the rich red thread was dyed using Armenian cochineal. Experts believe this carpet was created to be used as a funeral accessory.
Despite its early origins in West Asia, the knotted pile carpet didn’t come to England until the 16th Century when it was introduced by Flemish Calvinists who were fleeing religious persecution. Most weavers settled in Southern England and created what is often referred to as Norwich Carpets. These featured adaptations of Persian designs incorporated with Elizabethan and Jacobean scrolling vines and blossom. Weavers used what is known as the symmetrical knot.
In 1755 the Axminster carpet factory was founded by Thomas Whitty, a cloth weaver from Axminster in Devon. The carpets were symmetrically knotted by hand in either wool or woollen warps and featured beautiful designs that drew inspiration from architecture and floral patterns. Axminster carpets are still produced today!
Towards the middle of the 18th century the Brussel Loom was introduced to England and revolutionised carpet production. This was the first loom that enabled carpet to be woven mechanically creating what was known as the Brussel carpet that featured a jacquard pattern. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the 20th century that the production of the labour intensive Brussel carpets began to decline although some of the looms are still in production today.
Carpet as we know it now is produced on a much larger scale and can be seamed together with a seaming iron and seaming tape enabling what is knowns as wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpet systems nowadays are also installed with a cushioned underlay that can dramatically change the ‘feel’ of a carpet depending on your requirements as well as improve the life of your carpet.
So there you have it, our brief history of the carpet!