Carpets in Myth and History

Categories: The Guide to Carpet

Carpet Myths and Legends

Well, we’ve talked about the reality of carpets for many posts. How they’re made, what types work where, what it means to have green carpet cleaning, how to prepare for Spring, why Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning is the best for your carpets, and much, much more. Something we haven’t talked about, though, are some of the myths and legends about carpets. Sure, we’ve talked about them in actual history – how carpets developed and so on – but not about the fun legends. So here are three famous stories about carpet that, while they may be tall tales, are at least fascinating.

The Origin of the Red Carpet

The phrase “Red Carpet Treatment” has its origin in a railroad company who laid out red carpets to direct passengers to the train cars. Kind of boring. But if you roll back the clock about two and a half millennia,  you’ll find something more intriguing.

The earliest known reference to a red carpet is in the Greek play trilogy Orestia, written by the great Aeschylus. In the first play, King Agamemnon has returned after sacking the city of Troy to find his wife greeting him with a crimson carpet laid out between his chariot and the entrance to their home.

Agamemnon, who was incredibly prideful man, hesitates to walk on the carpet, for “I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path.” He knows only gods should walk on such splendor, but he finally bends to his wife’s will and walks on the carpet. When he gets inside, he is promptly murdered by his wife. The two didn’t have a great relationship.

Cleopatra and the Carpet

On a slightly less violent note, we turn to Cleopatra. At the time of this legend,  Julius Caesar was in Egypt “settling” the debate about whether Cleopatra or her brother should rule. And since ancient rulers were honorable, both parties left Caesar alone to come to a fair conclusion.

In other words, both were doing what they could to convince Caesar to pick them. The brother wisely tried to keep Cleopatra away from Caesar, but she wouldn’t have it. She managed to sneak past her brother’s guards and convince Caesar to make her Pharaoh. How did she get past armed sentries? She hid herself in a wrapped up carpet that was presented as a gift to Caesar. When the carpet was unrolled, she tumbled out and became pharaoh.

King Solomon Can Fly?

Our final story is perhaps the strangest. Where Cleopatra historically did sneak in and speak with Julius Caesar and Agamemnon was a well-regarded Greek play, this one comes out of left field. Most are familiar with King Solomon the Wise but are unaware of the many Jewish legends about this figure – like his giant, magical flying carpet that was sixty miles long and sixty miles wide. Solomon could use it to fly around tens of thousands of people. According to one story, he even once had a conversation with an ant queen on it. Huh.

Well, Oxi Fresh wouldn’t likely offer carpet cleaning services for these famous carpets – we don’t want to be in a Greek play/become Pharaoh/talk to ant queens. But we hope you found this collection of fables and stories fun! Share any interesting carpet stories or legends you know in the comments below.

Thanks to persian-carpet.info, handmaderug.com, orientalrugcleaners.com, jewishencylopeida.com, and Wikipedia for these fun facts.