One of the weirdest things that Russian people do is hang carpet on their walls. Try to walk into an old school Russian house. Chance is you would find the wall covered in a beautiful carpet instead of framed photos. You may have never really thought of why it is done that way since it is not really something out of the norm.
Almost anywhere in Eastern or South Eastern Europe during 90s, it was apparent that Russian people really loved carpets. They were the integral decor in almost anyone’s house. At that time, having a beautiful carpet was equal to having IKEA furniture today. It was a must for most.
It is not clear as to why and how this trend developed, but many guess that carpets were such art pieces that Russian people treated them as paintings. In communal apartments or flats, these carpets were used as soundproofing material and even a mean to hide broken pieces of walls. So it was a thing of both being a symbol of good taste and wealth plus they could hide their wall stains and defects.
But, seriously though, why do a lot of Russian houses have carpets all over their walls? Why Russians hang carpet on their walls? Here is the answer. In this article, I will provide you with an in-depth look at one of the weirdest Soviet traditions.
Historically speaking, in late 1950s, there were a lot of people who lived in bad housing conditions such as people living in communal apartments where one family has one room and they share kitchen and bathroom with other people or some wooden houses which was built around newly constructed factories so that they could start working as soon as possible.
The government then came up with a plan to mass build houses, known as Khrushchyovka. The flats were small and they had a lot of problems, but for many people it became their first own house.
One of the problems was thin walls. It was understandable because house construction needs a lot of resources and to make it a bit cheaper, flats were made small and walls were made thin. Thick and soft carpets were great to lower the noise that came from other flats.
The most common explanations include its utility use like keeping warm and sound isolation. These reasons were actually important only for a negligible percentage of owners. This fails to explain why they would quite often use a thin non-wool tapestry instead of a carpet.
To understand the real reason, you need to understand how the living interiors in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) look like. The Soviets had on average less than 100 square feet of living space per person. Due to this, they had to be very space conscious.
There were no dedicated bedrooms because every room was a multipurpose room. To save space, the sleeping beds in their homes were almost always positioned long side against the wall while the rest of the space along the walls was tightly occupied by other pieces of furniture.
Now, we are close to the real reason. The Soviets did not just put the tapestry on the walls; they put it on the walls above their beds because they had to decorate a blank wall above the bed which would look ugly otherwise. In the absence of murals, choosing the wall hanging tapestry for these purposes was a very reasonable and common design choice. Not only carpets, but a wide variety of tapestry was used for a home decor.
And due to the poor living conditions in the first half of the 20th century until the end of the Soviet times, Russian people would hang carpets on the walls to keep warm since winters used to be really cold back then and so a carpet would make their lives a lot warmer. You may also check Russian shawls for winter.
A Sign of Wealth
The carpet used to show a lot about the families economic status. The bigger the carpet, the nicer the carpet, the more well off that particular family was. A small, cheap looking, thin carpet usually meant that the family did not have a lot of quality things by way of financial means.
In other words, the wealthier, the bigger your carpet was, and could even hang wide enough to cover a sofa and straight onto the floor. The bottom line is that hanging a carpet on the wall actually became a common thing to do to display a family’s economic status.
People were choosing tapestry based on their design preferences and it must be said that while some design choices were good, more often than not, those choices were aesthetically awful. Some people had carpets as their wall hanging tapestry of choice and these choices were even more likely to be bad because even the better looking carpets were completely dissonant with the rest of the living space while some of those carpets were truly awful by themselves due to displaying awfully tasteless pictures. This is the reason why today hanging rugs on the walls is widely considered to be of a bad taste.
Modern apartments do not have carpets on the walls anymore. Moreover, it is a well-known joke to point out someone’s lack of fashion sense. It is something like, “She looks like she has a carpet on the wall in her apartment,” meaning her sense of fashion is bad.
So, that is a brief explanation of why Russians hang carpet on their walls? Here is the answer (refer to the points stated above). Do you think that carpets actually never served the logical purposes?
Do you think that carpets rather served aesthetic and status symbol purposes? Do you think that maybe having carpets at our house could remind us of our Asian roots? Let me know your answers. You may also check things to know before visiting Russian house.