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To look at a Persian carpet is to gaze into a world of artistic magnificence nurtured for more then 2,500 years.

The Iranians were among the first carpet weaver of the ancient civilizations. An Iranian's home is bare and soulless without it, a reflection on the deep rooted bond between the people and their national art.

To trace the history of the Persian carpet is to follow a path of cultural growth of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known.

From being simply articles of need, as pure and simple floor entrance covering to protect the nomadic tribesmen from the cold and damp, the increasing beauty of the carpets found them new owners - kings and nobleman, those who looked for signs of wealth or adornment for fine buildings.

In palaces, famous buildings, rich homes and museums throughout the world a Persian carpet is amongst the most treasured possessions.

Today, Iran produces more carpets than all the other carpet making centres of the world put together.

Besides being an article of furniture, the carpet was also a form of writing for the illiterate tribesmen, setting down their fortunes and setbacks, their aspirations and joys.

It also came to be used as a prayer mat by thousands of Muslim believers.

To make a carpet in those days required tremendous perseverance.

Although cotton came to be used for the warp and weft of the carpet, the herds of sheep that surrounded the tribes provided the basic material, wool.

The cold mountain climate provided an added advantage in that the wool was finer and had longer fibres than wool from sheep in warmer climates.

A key feature in making the carpets was the bright colours used to form the intricate designs. The manufacture of dyes involved well kept secrets handed down through the generations.

Before the dyeing process could begin, the wool had to be washed and dried in the sun to bleach it. The wool was loosely dipped into dyeing vats and left for a time that could be judged only by the expert craftsman.

Did you know?

The earliest known Persian carpet was discovered by Russian Professor Rudenko in 1949 during excavations of burial mounds in the Altai Mountains in Siberia.

It dates from the fifth century B.C. and is now kept in the Hermitage Museum of Leningrad.