The art of carpet weaving has been in existence for almost 3,000 years and formed an integral part of ancient Persian and Central Asian culture. The ‘Pazyryk Carpet’ dating back to the 4th - 5th century BCE is the oldest surviving example of a hand knotted Persian pile rug. Authentic hand knotted Oriental or Persian rugs are prized possessions and owing to their exquisite beauty and craftsmanship many priceless antique Persian rugs are displayed in museums throughout the world. From these early beginnings, hand knotted rug making spread throughout the Middle and Far East and spawned a vast cottage industry, which has provided work for countless generations of weavers. It wasn’t until the 17th century however, as overland trade routes were established, that Persian and Oriental carpets became widely known to the Western world and not until the 18th century that decorative carpets began to be used as floor coverings in European homes. A carpet (from the Old Italian carpita or carpire meaning to pluck) and a rug are not actually the same thing, in that a fringed carpet stretches from wall to wall while rugs do not.