An International History of Rugs

An International History of Rugs

Have you ever wondered if there were any interesting facts you didn’t know about rugs? Get up to date with the latest Sisal Rugs Direct post.


You know what rugs are. They're textile floor coverings made from a combination of pile attached to backing. Some are made from synthetic fibers, some are made from natural fibers, but no matter what they're made of, they're an incredibly useful homegood. 

That said: the rugs you know and love as floor coverings weren’t always as they are now. Rugs have changed and developed a lot over time and across continents. Today we’re taking a break from our traditional postings to teach you about a few of our favorite interesting facts about the mysteries and history of rugs.

  1. The earliest documented reference of a VIP walking on a "red carpet" was in a play written in 458 BC. The rug-related quote in particular read, "Make haste, carpet his way with crimson tapestries. Spread silk before your master’s feet; Justice herself shall lead him to a home he never hoped to see."

  2. Many beautiful rugs have been made over the centuries. Those considered most historically beautiful and coveted, however, are Persian rugs made in the 1500s. These rugs, exquisitely made, contain floral medallions and mind-boggling designs that have left them as purely museum pieces in the modern age.

  3. In the 1840s, with finances limited and burlap sacks aplenty, homemakers started making their own, new style of rug. These "hooked rugs" were made from the leftover sacks by using them as a base and pulling thin strips of fabric through their loose weaving. Some people would even make intricate patterns of flowers, shapes, or scenes.

  4. You wouldn't expect rugs to be something that famous poets would wax poetic about, but that's not entirely true. Edgar Allen Poe once published an essay on interior design where he exclaimed that, "a carpet is the soul of the apartment."

  5. The hand weaving of floor coverings, what we know as modern day rugs, dates back farther than you'd expect. It is speculated that rugs were being woven as far back as the Neolithic age, but the earliest recorded rug that survived and was found dated back to the 5th century BC. It's called the Pazyryk Carpet and was found within a Siberian burial mound.

  6. The most expensive rug ever sold has it's own name: The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet. It's over 360 years old and was owned by a famous United States industrialist. It went up for auction at Sotheby's in 2013 and ended up selling for $33.7 million dollars. No one knows who paid the mind-blowing price for this piece, but they obviously had an eye for quality.

  7. During the first world war, the at-the-time largest carpet and rug manufacturer in the world made a historical call. The company, Alexander Smith & Sons, switched their production from rugs to tents and blankets that were given to the United States armed forces.

  8. The first carpet mill that opened in the United States of America opened in 1791. A man named William Sprague started it with the intention of creating woven wool rugs and carpets in Philadelphia, PA.

  9. In the mid-1800s, a new trend emerged where designs would be either stenciled or stamped onto rugs made from burlap or jute. A famous purveyor of this technique, Edward Sands Frost, has his creations still selling for thousands and thousands of dollars to this day.

Now that you know where rugs have come from, it’s time to see where they’re headed. Check out our wide collection of future-facing, trendy rugs available for purchase online from Sisal Rugs Direct.

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