The first date that an Oriental rug was woven is unknown. In 1949, a Russian archaeological expedition to the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia excavated a royal burial mound that contained a miraculously preserved frozen carpet, Known as the Pazyryk carpet, it was used as a saddle cover for a horse. The Pazyrk carpet dates from the 4th or 5th century B.C. and is the earliest-known surviving example of a hand-knotted carpet.
The technique of knotting carpets was begun by the nomadic tribes of Central Asia. These tribes produced small rugs typically decorated with geometric motifs inspired by plant and animal forms. The nomadic rugs were both decorative and utilitarian, serving as floor covers, wall hangings, curtains and saddlebags. The wandering nomads are credited with spreading the art of carpet-making to new lands and peoples.
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