Historians theorize that the knotted pile rug likely originated in West Asia during the Bronze Age, more than 4,000 years ago. And as long as rugs themselves have been around, there have been rug stores and the merchants who sell them. Let’s start with the basics:
Where Did the Oriental Rug Originate?
Historians used to think that Oriental rugs originated in ancient Egypt because one of their largest industries was rug-weaving. However, due to the differences in weaving styles and materials, it’s now commonly accepted that the Oriental rug came from China by way of the Silk Road and was perfected and popularized by the Persians.
What Kind of Products Did Merchants Trade on the Silk Road?
The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that connected China, India, Persia, Greece, Rome, and Britain. A great deal of cultural assimilation happened on the Silk Road. Marco Polo, the famous Venetian merchant, coined the route’s name due to the abundance of silk traders coming from the East.
But it wasn’t just raw silk that was traded — rugs were also a mainstay item on ancient trade routes. Because rugs are relatively lightweight and compact (with high demand and high prices), they were the ideal product for merchants to trade and transport long distances. Vendors from different cultures would set up rug stores along the way and trade for other luxury goods, such as spices, raw silks, and jewels.
How Did Merchants Set Up a Rug Store on a Caravan Trade Route?
Have you ever walked into a modern-day rug store and wondered why so many of the rugs are hung up on walls? There’s actually a historical reason for it! In ancient desert civilizations, rugs were often used as floor coverings, wall coverings, and even doors.
On caravan trade routes like the Silk Road, rug stores needed to be easy to set up and take down in each of the trade route cities. Think of the market in the beginning scenes of Aladdin, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of what rug stores in caravan markets might have looked like!
The rug merchant would come into town and either assemble a small booth or stall to showcase their products or set up a roomy, luxurious tent to display the rugs as they might be seen in the shoppers’ own homes. This strategy was the precursor to today’s showrooms, where businesses design displays to show customers the product in a homier environment.
What’s Changed in Contemporary Rug Stores?
In many ways, the rug trade functions similarly as it did in the past. Many rugs are still exquisitely crafted and luxurious (but there is something for every budget!), and rug vendors are deeply invested in global trade, their products, and their industry.
But modern-day rug stores, like Crystal Carpet & Flooring Company, do have one massive advantage over the rug stores of antiquity. What is it, you ask? We don’t have to carry everything we sell in a caravan across the world! Instead, we have one easy-to-find location, where we’re able to display a wide variety of rugs, carpets, tiles, hardwood flooring and more. If you’re interested in learning more about the flooring styles we offer, stop by our showroom today.