In One Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade tells the tale of King Solomon & his magic carpet…possibly a Heriz Persian Carpet. As a reward for his humble request for wisdom rather than wealth, God rewards Solomon with the wisdom he asks for as well as riches beyond measure & a glorious reign over a vast kingdom.
According to a tale told by Sheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights, Solomon was also given a flying carpet when God appointed him king over every created thing. The carpet was made of green silk interwoven with pure gold, embroidered with figures. It was 60 miles long & sixty miles wide & could transport Solomon himself, his throne, 2 lions, four princes, & 2 two of his armies. When Solomon sat on the carpet, he was transported by the wind so quickly he “breakfasted at Damascus and supped in Media”. (1) The journey was so smooth the cooking pots of the cooks did not spill a drop of food.
The stories of the Arabian Nights were set throughout the Middle East. They are part of the folklore of Arabic, Persian, Egyptian & even Indian folklore. Some of the stories we most often associate with the Arabian Nights – Aladdin, Sinbad, & Ali Baba – weren’t part of the original collection of stories but were added later by European translators.
The rug referenced in the story would have been a common object in each of these cultures. Allow me to clarify, a non-flying rug would have been familiar to the listener. By the time the stories were translated to English in the 1880’s by Sir Richard Francis Burton, the rugs had been imported into England for centuries. In fact, as early as the 1500’s, Persian rugs were being imported into England.(2)
The rugs were prized for their intricate knotting & quality of the wool. Heriz wool is particularly prized for it’s strength & durability. Produced from sheep grazing on the slopes of Mount Salaban, the wool is particularly strong resulting from traces of copper in the drinking water. In addition to their durability, the rugs are known for their bold, geometric patterns designed around a large center medallion. (3)
Undoubtedly, these rugs only get more beautiful as they age & are often passed from generation to generation. They’ve become part of our culture, bringing us both the carpet bag itself, & the term carpet bagger.
Clearly, the outstanding beauty, quality, & craftsmanship of a Persian rug is beyond comparison. In fact, one rug, the “Ardabil” carpet, is part of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. (4)
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(1) JewishEncyclopedia.com http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?letter=S&artid=894#2945
(2) Persian rug Importing http://www.bukhara-carpets.com/making/persian-rugs-history.html
(3) Persian Carpet Guide
(4) Persian Rug History http://www.bukhara-carpets.com/making/persian-rugs-history.html
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