For some reason when I look at 3×5 area rugs, I get a feeling of nostalgia. Maybe it is because I live in the South and have often found myself drawn to southern decorating. Perhaps it is because I have seen pictures of ancient Rome on the wall which include the Olympic Mountains as well as the Colosseum. Whatever the reason, the sight of these rugs tickles my mind and evokes feelings of beauty and grandeur.
Roman influence was definitely a factor in how the rugs were initially used. They were probably used as decoration as well as a tool for floor weaving. There is an example of one such rug from the second century, which shows the first clear indication of the direction that rugs could take. This rug is called the Hyphenate which has two leaves on each side with a diagonal stripe running through the middle.
The Romans became the first culture to use rugs as far back as the second century B.C. The Persians also used rugs of different sizes and patterns, but they were more used as a floor covering than as a tool for weaving. The first specimens of Persian rugs were found in ancient Babylonian ruins. In fact, some of the oldest Persian rugs are those of the 7th century A.D.
The Romans and Persians each used different materials for their rugs. The Romans used cotton rugs, while the Persians went with wool. Wool was used extensively throughout the region and was woven into fabric. The use of silk rugs became popular with the Romans but the Persians did not use silk for their rugs. Instead they made use of fine wool fibers. Persian rug making techniques were passed down from one generation to another until they were well known and widely used throughout the region.
In Europe, the rugs would usually be used for the upper class homes of the day. They were often used to cover the floors but were also often decorated with gold and gems. The rugs would also be used as borders on walls. They would also be used as decorative pieces for courtrooms. Many rugs would be laid horizontally on tables to match the style of the chairs.
Some European countries today still use the rugs from the Middle East and Asia. Examples of these are Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Tibet, and Nepal. These places have preserved the traditional weaving techniques that have been used for centuries. Today these traditions continue to be used as a way of decorating homes.