The art of rug weaving began B.C. according to many researchers. The actual time period is not known. There are many speculations but that's all they are "speculations". How, when and where rug weaving began is one of many questions that we will eventually answer. I don't think we'll have that answer in my life time unless our bright scientists invent a "TIME MACHINE". Meanwhile we can entertain ourselves with many different versions by different people.
One thing we know is that the Persians(Iranians) rulers encouraged this art and by 11th and 12th century the carpet weaving craft was well refined by Persian Weavers. The mongol invasion brought a swift downfall and during Middle Ages, Persian Carpets or Persian Rugs reverted to being crude works of simple designs.
For two hundred years Persian Carpet weaving suffered because of the conquerors. Shah Ismail the first ruler of Safavid Dynasty revived the art around 1500AD. He gathered the greatest painters of his kingdom to create new patterns/designs. He then joined them with the master weavers to bring about the great Persian Carpet reformation. He certainly loved this art and he saw its importance culturally, economically and socially.
The carpet weavers at the Safavid court were centrally located between the weavers from the court of Great Moghul to the east and weavers from the Ottoman Court to the west. This gave the Persian weavers an advantage to interact with weavers from both sides. The result was magnificent. It was because of this interaction that the Persians created some of the most splendid carpets/rugs ever produced. There are no dispute among the experts that this time the 16th century was the golden age of carpets. The great quantity of rugs woven during this time period was shipped to Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Venice, Netherlands, France, Austria, India, Turkistan and China.
Every good thing will eventually come to an end. The Persian culture declined in the latter part of the 17th century because of the death of Shah Abbas and the Afghan invasions. The capital Esfahan was completely destroyed and with it the carpet industry as well.
By early 19th century Esfahan was rebuilt and the carpet weavers came under the patronage of the affluent merchants from Teheran, Tabriz and Kerman. The effort to revive rug weaning was fruitful and once again carpet weaving became Persia's major industry and export earner.
After WWI Persian carpet industry continued to flourish. The Persian Rug industry has been suffering again within past decades because of slew of "COPIES" from other rug weaving parts of the world but the production is continuing. The Persians and Persian Rugs have past the test of time and I predict that in the future they once again overcome all odds.
If I may conclude this with a word of advise. If you are buying a rug for your home, don't buy a "COPY". Please invest your hard earned money in a genuine Persian Rug made by a hard working talented weaver from Iran. Don't get fooled by terms such as Persian Style, Oriental Style, Hand Made Persian Design.......
Real Persian Rugs are only made in Iran any other is just an imitation and they don't deserve the high prices that are being sold for in today's market. Please call me if you have any questions. I provide museum quality Oriental Rug Cleaning, Oriental Rug Repair as well as Antique Rug Restoration and Rug Preservation.
I hope this was helpful!