Persian Rug Making History
The belief is that Cyrus the Great introduced rug weaving during his reign of the Persian Empire in 529 B.C. Since that time, hand-made rugs continue to be made in villages, with various designs elements and colors that identify which village or tribe makes them. The Safavid Dynasty (1499-1722) is of particular note because the reigns of Shah Tahmasp and Shah Abbas created and funded weaving workshops featuring high-quality artisans and materials. Artists would create the carpet designs, and the best designs were woven by the best weavers in the empire. This constituted the Golden Age of Persia. At that time, trade was established with Europe.
The Safavid Dynasty, along with the court-funded carpet making, ended with the Afghan invasion in 1722. People’s energies were diverted into fighting the Turks, Afghans, and the Russians. Rug weaving survived with people in villages and nomads continuing to make carpets.
Toward the end of the 19th century, carpet weaving and trade flourished again. Through trade, Europeans and Americans took an interest in Persian rugs. Today, thanks to investors like Desert Rug Company who want to ensure the best materials are used and the art form is kept alive, carpet making is being revived.
The ancient nation of Iran was historically known to the West as Persia until March 21, 1935. The name was used in the West due to the ancient Greek name for Iran, Persis. Persia is used to describe the nation of Iran, its people, or its ancient empire. The Persians have called their country Iran / Iranshahr since the Sassanian period.
The name Persia comes from a region in the south of Iran, called Fars or Pars in the Persian language. Persis is the Hellenized form of Pars, based on which other European nations termed it Persia. Eratosthenes however does make mention of the word "Iran" in his writings. This region was the core of the original Persian Empire. Westerners referred to the state as Persia until March 21, 1935, when Reza Shah Pahlavi formally asked the international community to call the country by its native name, Iran, which means Land of the Aryans but because of some Persian scholars' protests the government announced in 1959 that both Persia and Iran could be used. (see Iran/Persia naming controversy). For the geography of Persia, see Geography of Iran.
Once a major empire of superpower proportions, Persia has been overrun frequently and has had its territory altered throughout the centuries. Invaded and occupied by Arabs, Turks, Mongols, British and Russians, and others -- and often caught up in the affairs of larger powers -- Persia has always reasserted its national identity and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity.
The first true empire of global proportions of Persia blossomed under the Achaemenids in (559 - 330 BC). The dynasty was founded by Cyrus the Great, who merged the various tribes and kingdoms into one unified entity. Following the Hellenistic period (300 - 250 BC) came the Parthian (250 BC - AD 226 ) and the Sassanid (226 - 651) dynasties.