Two Armenian Words for Carpets

Two Armenian Words for CarpetsIn Armenian, there are two words for “carpet” – “karpet” (Armenian: կարպետ) and “gorg” (Armenian: գորգ).

Although these two words in the Armenian language are synonyms, “karpet” is more often used with lint-free carpets while fluffy carpets are called “gorg”.

In Armenian medieval manuscripts, the word “carpet” in the form of “kapert” was for the first time mentioned in the translation of the Bible of the 5th century. The word “kapert” was formed from the Armenian root “Kap” (Armenian: կապ, a knot). Over time, the word “kapert” took a more euphonious form of “karpet.”

As evidenced by the documentary sources of the time, the word “carpet” was borrowed by European languages from the Armenian language at the end of the 13th century as a result of increased trade of carpets that were brought to Europe through the port cities of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia.

In particular, a Florentine banker and merchant Francesco Balducci Pegolotti in detail described the trade route from the Cilician city of Ayas (now known as Yumurtalik) to Sivas, Erzincan, Erzurum, and further to the city of Tabriz in the work “La pratica della mercatura”. According to him, from 1274 to 1330, a large number of carpets was imported to Florence from the Armenian cities of Ayas and Sis.

The famous traveler Marco Polo also wrote about the significance of the Cilician city of Ayas in international trade. He visited Ayas in 1271 and sailed home to Venice on an Armenian transport ship.

The ancient Armenian name of Erzurum is Karin. Arab chronicles indicate that the word “kali” (otherwise “khali” or “ghali”), which in the entire Arab world means “carpet”, comes from the Arabian name of the city of Karin Kālīkalā.

Abd al-Rashid al-Bakuvi reported that carpets and az-zalali (also kali) were exported from the Armenian Kālīkalā (Karin) located on the strategic roads between Persia and Europe and known for its carpets.

According to Yakut al-Khamavi, a scholar and writer of the 13th century, the Arabic name for “carpet” was the abbreviated name of the city of Kālīkalā – “kali”.

In his records, Marco Polo considered the carpets from these places the most beautiful in the world. Academician Joseph Orbeli directly writes that the word “carpet” has Armenian origin. “As for carpet weaving in Armenia, it has the same ancient origin as stone carving and ceramics.”

Many Armenian and foreign sources mention the fabrication of carpet fabrics in ancient Armenia as one of the main branches of Armenian arts.

Fragments of ancient carpets were found during excavations near Yerevan. Besides, remains of local wool carpets were discovered during the excavations of Ani in one of the tombs of the Tsaghkadzor canyon. (M.V. Babenikov, “The People’s Decorative Art of the Transcaucasus and its Masters”, 1948).

According to Dr. Wolkmar Ganzhorn, oriental carpets do not originate from nomadic tribes. The region of their origin is not even Central Asia. The eastern carpet is a product of the ancient civilizations of the Armenian Highlands, which lied at the crossroads of the oldest trade routes between the west, north, and south.

The arrival of the Polo brothers in the trading port of Hayas in 1271, an illustration in the book Le Livre des Merveille (XV century)

6 thoughts on “Two Armenian Words for Carpets

  1. Hello, I would like to reference this article in an academic work. May I know the name of the author. Thank you for your attention and for this very interesting article.

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