The extraordinary Pazyrycks

Buried beneath the ice for 2,500 years lay a carpet meticulously and masterfully woven (200 x 180 with 360,000 knots per square metre), that would shed a spotlight on a culture almost forgotten.

 The Pazyryk carpet was discovered in 1946 underneath the snow of Siberia in the burial chamber of what is believed to be a Scythian prince, a member of the Pazyryk tribe. Since then more excavations were done and more burial chambers discovered, so artfully built and exquisitely decorated with treasure, it became crystal clear that the Pazyryks were an intricate culture and a force to be reckoned with in the region. The ‘Princess of Ukok’ is the mummy of a young woman found in 1993 in Altai. She’s believed to have been a shaman or spiritual leader of the nomadic Pazyryk people from 2500 years ago. Her body is covered in well-preserved tattoos. According to Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak “Compared to all tattoos found by archeologists around the world, those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated, and the most beautiful. It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art. Incredible.”

The treasures found in various burial tombs of the Pazyryks have revealed supreme workmanship in all their crafts, from their clothing to their horse-riding gear and weaponry, all on show at the State Hermitage Museum in Russia. Their advanced skills in weaving and embroidery and extreme attention to detail, surprised many and is testament that the weaving industry is by far older than previously estimated. A large embroidered wall hanging made of felt (that fits into a glass case of 8m x1m x 5.5m) reveals a majestic animated scene of a horse rider riding to a goddess holding flowers. The images look extremely modern even according to today’s digital design standards.

These were a proud people, nomadic superior horsemen and women who were also a warrior tribe. Some believe the legendary Amazons were from this tribe. They were constantly in battle for land and would eventually encounter the might Persians along the way. It was in one of their battles with Persia that King Cyrus would be fatally wounded. They did become part of the Persian Empire eventually and the Pazyryk carpet shows many similarities with the stone carvings in Persepolis. How wonderful it is that our arts and crafts outlive us all and give glimpses into the past by those lucky enough to find it at some point in the future.


  • The Russian Hermitage Museum
  • The Russian Times
  • Ancient Origins
  • Wikipedia, Graphic Design in Persian Carpets