IN the Orient a large and heavy rug is made of felt. This is used extensively by the natives, but is too heavy to export. Even the shepherds of the Kotan-Daria and of the Keriya-Daria use it in their primitive and isolated abodes. Sometimes an old felt rug is propped up by poles and becomes a tent, in which dwell the shepherds of Central Asia.
This felt rug is made of the hair of the camel, goat, or sheep, or by a mixture of all these kinds. It is matted together by heavy and constant pounding, moistened with water, turned and beaten again and again until it becomes compact and solid. Sometimes the felts are decorated with colored threads and often the name of the weaver is woven in. Among the best felts are those made at Astrabad and Yezd.
In color felts are gray, brown, or white. The last named are woven at Khotan.. No dye is used ; the hue is that of the hair of the animal, or the composite hue resulting from the mixture of the hair of different animals.
The felts have no seams, and are from one to four inches thick. Although this material is of far more ancient date than the days of St. Clement, a legend connects his name with the discovery of felt. The tradition is that while on a pilgrimage the Saint, having put a wad of carded wool into his shoes to protect his feet from blisters, found at the end of his journey that the pressure and moisture had converted the wool into felt.
( Originally Published Late 1900’s )