Among many historically important findings that offered a thought-provoking insight into the little known ancient nomadic tribes of Pazyryk, including cloth saddles, decorative or devotional figurines, tattooed mummies, cannabis seeds with an inhalation tent, and even a full-sized burial chariot, there was a rug. It had lasted all this time frozen in ice which allowed it to remain almost untouched by the ravages of time. It is the oldest known pile rug which is additionally exceptionally well preserved and by its singularity continues to intrigue historians and weavers alike.
The Pazyryk rug is now housed at St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum. Their website provides the following description of the ancient wonder : “Its decoration is rich and varied: the central field is occupied by 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of four stylized lotus buds. This composition is framed by a border of griffins, followed by a border of twenty-four fallow deer. The widest border contains representations of workhorses and men.” Although the characterization of the design seems to be accurate, it does not mention the ambiguity concerning the actual origin of the carpet. The Pazyryk tribes were wandering hunters who domesticated horses and mastered the art of riding to perfection. However, their main trade was war. According to historical sources, the Pazyryk or, in other words, Scythian peoples were considered fearless, not excluding the women who were just as proficient in martial arts as men. It is highly unlikely that these warriors are the makers of the famed Pazyryk rug because its sophistication, intricacy of design, as well as the color scheme indicate a highly developed cosmopolitan and most of all, settled civilization.
The Pazyryk Valley was located close to major trade routes that were travestied from China to Central Asia and back by the merchant caravans. Present day scientists suspect that the notorious rug could have been a Scythian loot, stolen from the traders of Persian or Armenian origin. A textile expert studying the ancient artistic development, Ulrich Schurmann, supports the view that the carpet comes from Armenia. Yet, the heirs of the Persian weaving empire believe it to be the artifact of the Achaemenid period and claim it as their own. Perhaps, we will never know the truth but the one about the eternal beauty of the Pazyryk Rug.