The words “extreme” and “rug” are rarely found in the same sentence…or even the same paragraph for that matter. However, there is no better adjective to describe the following wonders than “extreme.”
The Largest Rug in the World
The largest rug in the world is a prayer mat in the massive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This soccer field of a rug measures 60,546 square feet (5,625 square meters) and it took more than 1,200 carpet knotters approximately two years to complete. How many individual knots does it take to turn 38 tons of wool and cotton into a world-record rug? The answer is more than 2,268,000,000. That is BILLIONS with a ‘B.’ The rug is estimated to cost $5.8 million, but that is just a drop in the bucket considering the cost of the mosque itself. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest and most expensive mosques in the world at $700 million which makes this insanely huge and expensive rug seem a little bit more reasonable. It will also make you feel better to know that $2.3 million of the profit from the rug was dispersed among the villages near the town of Neishabbor in the north-eastern Khorasan province where it was made.
The Most Expensive Rug in the World
If you thought $5.8 million was a lot to pay for a rug (even if it was the size of a soccer field), wait until you see what the record for most expensive rug in the world is. Sold to an anonymous phone bidder at a Sotheby’s auction in New York, this 6 foot by 8 foot, 17th century Persian Rug cost $34 million. This “sickle-leaf, vine scroll and palmette ‘vase’-technique carpet” (likely of Kerman origin) more than tripled the previous record of $9.6 million. If you thought your parents were angry when you spilled your apple juice on their rug, let’s just say there is no amount of grounding that can make up for $34 million. Upon the final sale of the rug, the auction room erupted in applause and a watershed moment for antique rugs had been created. This put rugs of this nature on firm footing in terms of the upper echelons of the art world.
The Oldest Rug in the World
The previous rug may have been exorbitantly expensive, but this next rug is priceless. In the land surrounding Siberia’s Ukok Plateau there is the Pazyryk Valley where there are ancient burial mounds called kurgans. An archeological dig in the 1920’s uncovered a plethora of items that gave new insight into the lives of the nomadic people who lived there more than two-thousand years ago. The dig uncovered mummies, cloth saddles, a full-sized burial chariot, devotional figurines, and cannabis seed with an inhalation tent. One of the most incredible finds of this dig was the 2,500+/- year old Pazyryk Carpet. The contents of these burial mounds were estimated to have been frozen in ice since the 5th century BCE making this rug the oldest piled rug in known existence. The rug’s true origin is a bit of a mystery, however. Mummies at this site were found wearing wild silk that was likely to have originated in India and there were gilded figurines which is vexing due to the fact that gold is not native to the region. Because of the rug’s elegance and sophistication it is unlikely to have been made by a nomadic people like the Pazyryks. It is thought to have been made by a more settled, cosmopolitan civilization such as Persia or Armenia; however, that is still an educated guess. The origin may be a tossup, but what is for certain is the historical significance and beauty of this ancient rug.
These rugs are some of the most extreme examples in the world but one thing that is constant between these rugs is the commitment to design that the creators kept. Perhaps more predictably is the adherence to design integrity in the most expensive rug, but the scale of design in the world’s largest rug did not take away from the beauty, nor did the age of the design as a rug made 2,500 years ago is still considered a gorgeous work of art.
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