Red carpet treatment - a history

At the time of the powerful empires, it was expected of a ruler to put his wealth on display when dignitaries came to visit. We all know about the elaborate palaces with gold, silver and precious stones gilded into pillars, roofs and walls, etc. Even the clothing worn in court and the food ate at banquets had to be of the best quality. Everything was elaborate to confirm an empire’s wealth and power.

To make an even greater statement carpets and even textiles were laid out in the streets for miles, in the famous “red carpet’” treatment to convey hospitality. Streets in cities and walkways in palaces were covered in thousands of brocaded textiles and costly carpets. In the most renowned red carpet treatment, textiles and carpets were used as a political statement to symbolize the greater glory of Islam over Christianity. This was staged in Baghdad in 917 at the Abbasid court by Caliph al-Muktadir for ambassadors from Byzantium. Twenty-two thousand pieces covered the corridors and courts from the Official Gate to the Caliph, but this did not include "the fine rugs...spread over other carpets, and these were not to be trodden with the feet."

Photograph of Tehran rolling out the red carpet during President Eisenhower's visit in the 1950's.