The art of making handmade rugs dates back millennia. Cultures around the world have been weaving intricate textiles and flatweaves before developing knotted pile rugs. As the intricacy of these woven textiles increased, it is thought the concept of making a textile comprised of individual knots was created. A rug comprised of non-interconnected knots tied on a loom would allow for a pile to provide insulation and infinite complexity in designs.
In the sixteenth century merchants from the west discovered the orient (what is today all of Asia and the Middle East, east of Istanbul) and trade between the various cultures created a market for hand knotted rugs. Fragments, and even whole rugs, can be found dating back to this time, but the art behind these rugs dates back even further.
In the 1920s, at an archeological site in Siberia, a hand knotted carpet almost fully intact was discovered. Through carbon dating it was determined to be over 2,000 years old. The rug was preserved in ice, in an ancient tomb, with other treasures. The origin of the rug is disputed to this day, as the tomb belonged to a nomadic tribe with artifacts from throughout Asia. What is definitive from the finding though is that hand knotted rugs of quite some complexity existed prior to 500 B.C..
Today there are many options and types of rugs on the market due to all the new technologies that have been developed since the early 20th century. However, original hand knotted rugs are still viewed as the most desirable for their character and richness, which cannot be recreated by a machine.