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A History Of Flying Carpets

Many will have marvelled at the magic of 1992s Disney blockbuster, Aladdin, starring a sentient Persian rug, aptly named ‘Carpet’. With the ability to fly, think, feel and whisk Aladdin high over Agrabah, this key supporting character is probably the most famous flying carpet in modern day culture.

As there is not much to note in more recent literature, those looking for a flying carpet throwback can find this very special character today in the highly praised Aladdin Musical.

But where did the notion of a magic carpet come from and how did it fly? 

First up is the 13th-century tale of Solomon of Israel and his magic carpet. As there are countless versions, here are two and you can choose your favourite:

As a gesture of her unwavering love, the Queen of Sheba had a magic carpet intricately made and sent to King Solomon. It was made of rich green silk, adorned with gold, silver and precious stones, sixty miles long and wide, and able to carry tens of thousands of the King’s men.

However, when the carpet arrived, Solomon was otherwise engaged and unable to take receipt of the gift, instead unceremoniously palming it off onto one of his courtiers. 

Naturally, the Queen of Sheba was not only heartbroken but also somewhat livid and vowed never to get involved in the magic carpet business again. Subsequently, the knowledge of how to make such a carpet was soon lost in the depths of time. 

I imagine that the lesson to be learnt here is to always be at home to sign for your deliveries.

The other version notes God as the original carpet-bearer, however, Solomon’s downfall this time was his inability to remain humble. He became arrogant; breakfasting in Syria and dining in Iran, racing the carpet from location to location like a boy racer in a Ferrari. As such, God commanded the carpet to give a quick shake and off fell 40,000 men to their deaths.

Second on the agenda is One Thousand & One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales dating back to the Islamic Golden Age, from which the story of Aladdin originated. Although the tale of Aladdin was not added until the 18th century by Frenchman Antoine Galland, it’s still pretty historic and would appear to be the second fictional sighting of the marvellous, magical rug.

Thirdly, in undated but celebrated Russian folklore, a flying carpet was one of the magical gifts the famous witch of the East, Baba Yaga gave to popular folk character Ivan the Fool. The flying carpet aided the nice-but-dim character in finding his way quicker and in style.

For those of you who don’t believe in wizardry, there is always the argument that a beautifully made carpet or rug is no less than magic when you take into account the intricacy of how it is woven, the level of its detail, history of its fibres, creativity of its makers and mastery of its design. 

And one, when feeling particularly disenchanted, can always revert to the modern ski resort magic carpet; a somewhat boring means of cable transport that carries skiers and snowboarders uphill.

However, as the notion of the magic or flying carpet has been prevalent in writings dating back to hundreds of years ago, don’t be too quick to sweep it under the rug.

Want your own magical Persian Rug (minus the ability to fly)? Check out our range here.

Posted On: 15/08/2017

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