Wednesday, August 1, 2007

World's Largest Carpet Woven for Worshippers

from National Geographic News:

August 1, 2007—By any measure, it's a marvel—as a work of art, as an article of devotion, as a testament to the richness of hand-made craftwork. But who's going to take it outside and beat it?

Authorities in Iran unveiled what they described as the world's largest hand-woven rug yesterday at Tehran's open-air prayer grounds.

At 60,546 square feet (5,625 square meters), the carpet is the size of a soccer field and was woven by 1,200 weavers in three villages over the course of a year and a half.

The mammoth floor covering is destined for a monumental new mosque under construction in the United Arab Emirates. Emirati officials commissioned Iran's state-owned rug manufacturer to create the piece for the central prayer hall of the giant Sheikh Zayed mosque, slated to open this fall in the capital city of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi).

Weavers in Iran's northwestern Khorasan Province used 38 tons of wool and cotton from Iran and New Zealand to fashion the colorful covering, tying a staggering 2.2 billion knots in the process.

Half of the commission, estimated at 5.8 million U.S. dollars, will go to the villagers. But authorities hope that in addition to the income, the huge rug will bring renewed publicity to Iran's flagging carpet-weaving industry.

Long known for its delicate and ornate Persian rugs, Iran has recently been losing market share to cheaper Asian manufacturers, according to industry reports.

—Blake de Pastino

Photograph by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

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