One cannot imagine a good Soviet apartment without carpets. Carpet was on the floor in a living room and… often on a wall of a living room. Why?
First of all – what kind of carpets were popular? Traditional, «Persian-style» carpets, mainly produced in Turkmenistan and other former Soviet republics. They were very expensive and were «in deficit» (hard to find). I guess that the love to the carpets goes from the Asian part of our souls.
I am not sure whether any other, more modern carpets were available at that time, but the typical carpet looked like that:
A lot of Soviet people, had at least two carpets at home – one the floor and one on the wall in the living room. If they could afford that of course, since carpets were expensive. Carpets served dual purpose – they provided coziness and were a symbol of wealth. I am not exactly sure why people placed carpets on the wall – a logical explanation is that a carpet provided extra insulation from cold, but very often carpets were at the internal walls. So, I believe that people just thought that having a beautiful carpet on the wall is part of a stylish interior design.
Now that habit went out of fashion completely. But of course, some old apartments still have carpets, hanging on walls. People usually make fun of photos from Russian dating sites, on which candidates are posing at the carpet background (which btw is probably the worst background for a photo).
Other symbols of wealth of the Soviet time included crystal glasses, vases etc and crystal lamps, usually made in GDR or Czechoslovakia, such as the following:
Cleaning carpets was a special event. Not everybody had a vacuum cleaner and vacuum cleaners, which use water and foam, were non-existent. So, even though Russian people never wear street shoes at home, carpets needed cleaning at least twice a year.
Carpets were cleaned couple of times per year. In summer you would take a carpet outside, hang it on the special metal tube and use a special device to beat the dust out of the carpet. In winter – you would take the carpet outside and clean it with the snow. Cleaning the carpet, using snow was a lot of fun for kids!
Less affluent people, or people, who lived in rural areas often had other types of carpets on the walls of their homes. Such carpets reminded the medieval gobelins and served mainly the decoration purpose. The most typical ones pictured swans or deer:
There is one thing that really puzzles me about usage of carpets in Russia. In the US most homes have carpet floors. Of course, carpet floors are also available in Russia, but I have never seen an apartment with carpet floors. And it has nothing to do with our weather – Chicago also has a lot of snow in winter, but most homes there have carpet floors. Also, unlike in the US – Russians never walk in the apartments in the same shoes they wear outdoors. It would’ve made total sense to have warm carpet floors, but people strongly prefer wooden floors in the rooms and tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. That makes me think, that carpets never served the rational purposes, they rather served aesthetic and status symbol purposes. Maybe having carpets at home remind us of our Asian roots?
How are carpets used at homes in your country? Please share any thoughts or stories!
© 2016 Tatiana Golubeva. All rights reserved.