Carpeting and Its History

Back in prehistoric days, humans took shelter in primitive caves. It probably didn’t take them too long to start using animal skins, plant leaves, or other soft material to line the floors of their caves. Were these types of materials the first carpets? Not exactly. We do know that animals, such as goats and sheep, were sheared for hair and wool that could be spun and woven into floor coverings over 9,000 years ago. Knotted-pile carpet rugs are thought to have developed in western Asia 4,000-5,000 years ago.

The oldest rug ever discovered is the Pazyryk carpet, which is a pile carpet rug discovered in a Siberian burial mound in 1949. Experts believe it is over 6,000 years old, dating back to the 5th century B.C. Preserved in ice for thousands of years, the Pazyryk carpet features rich colors in a dense pile of symmetrical double knots.

Wall-to-wall carpeting, like we enjoy today, hasn’t been around nearly as long as the more portable version. They got their start as handcrafted bedspreads in the small town of Dalton, Georgia.

Around the turn of the 20th century, a young woman in Dalton named Catherine Evans Whitener made a handcrafted bedspread as a wedding gift. Using a quilt pattern she had seen, she sewed thick cotton yarn onto unbleached muslin fabric. To make the bedspread softer, she clipped the ends of the yarn, so that they would fluff out.

Over the next several decades, her process for making bedspreads became extremely popular, and entire families began to make a living by hand-tufting bedspreads. Demand for these bedspreads was high and spread to large cities around the U.S. Income from making bedspreads helped many Dalton-area families survive the Great Depression.

Eventually, machines were developed to automate the tufting process. Mills sprang up in and around Dalton, and new products were developed, including broadloom carpets. After World War II, new synthetic fibers were developed to replace wool and cotton, including polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylics.

Today, tufted broadloom carpets made of synthetic fibers account for over 90% of the carpet market. Dalton remains at the center of the carpet industry, producing over 70% of world-wide carpet output. That’s why Dalton is known as the “Carpet Capital of the World.”

So now that we know all about where carpeting comes from, keep in mind that this wonderful stuff needs regular professional carpet cleaning. Call us you’re ready to schedule.

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