Far less well known than the Pazyryk carpet are the Pazyryk flatweaves. The same barrow that housed the carpet also housed two astonishing tapestry woven panels, one with panels depicting women at prayer (Sergei I Rudenko, Frozen Tombs of Siberia, London, 1970, p.297 and pl.177c), the other with a procession of lions that are immediately recognisable as being very closely related to Assyrian examples carved in stone (Rudenko, op. cit. pl.177a). It is probable that these textiles were imported, since the style is very different from those of the vast majority of the other items found in the Pazyryk barrows. They demonstrate however a technique that was very well developed indeed, with a remarkable precision of drawing, particularly in the lion border. The technique must have had its origins a very long time earlier.
Also at Pazyryk, in a different barrow, barrow 2, were found pieces of true kilim, which wove a complex reciprocal angular hooked design (Rudenko, op. cit., pl.157). The technique is a much simpler kilim weave, with no bending of wefts, executed in five colours, creating a very clever counterpoint between the motifs and the underlying striped ground colour. This seems far more likely to have been made locally, and demonstrates their mastery of this technique. It appears that that fragment is one of the earliest published true kilims, dateable to the 4th or 3rd century B.C. The Carbon 14 calibrated dating on the rug that was found in barrow 5 gives a 25.4 probability of 382-332 BC and a 74.6 probability of 328-200 BC (Jürg Rageth, Anatolian kilims and radiocarbon dating, Riehen 1999, p.24).
The carbon14 dating of the present kilim is very close indeed to that of the Pazyryk rug, differing in percentages and the spread within the limits, but with end points that are almost identical. The technique here however is different from the Pazyryk kilim; it uses a bending of the wefts that create the design so that curves can be introduced. Further analysis however shows some remarkable similarities. The background of the design in each case is worked in stripes of alternating red and aubergine. The design is worked in white, blue and yellow, although all the colours here, and particularly the blue, are considerably darker than that shown in the Pazyryk publication. Both designs very cleverly use the upper design to avoid the observer noticing that the ground is in fact evenly striped until one analyses very carefully. It seems very probable that this comes from a closely related culture to that which was responsible for the Pazyryk burials.
While it is certainly dangerous to speculate backwards from 19th and 20th century tribal customs with anything more than a suggestion, both the size and the layout of this kilim will immediately suggest to those who know Persian tribal weavings the idea of a sofreh, a cloth on which to eat (Parviz Tanavoli, Bread and Salt, Tehran 1991, esp.pls.7, 13, 20 and 26). Is it possible that this was woven with a similar purpose in mind?
A carbon 14 test conducted by ETH, Zurich, sample ETH-42000/1, gives the following result:
360BC (52.7 290BC
230BC (15.5 200BC
360BC (60.3 270BC
260BC (35.1 180BC
Both the central field and the border were sampled, and gave very close results.