A carpet is, broadly, a cloth designed to be used as a floor covering … its actual form depending on the culture in which it was made.
In general - and certainly until the industrial era - a carpet was a fairly luxurious item, used by people who already had a fairly high quality floor (usually of stone or wood), to improve comfort, reduce noise and act as decoration. Early carpets were free standing things, much like a large rug, which at a minimum would tend to have a space between themselves and the wall and might only cover a specific area of the floor (for example a bedroom carpet might only cover the area immediately around the bed). These carpets could be quite elaborately patterned and decorative and it would be a brave owner who installed them in a place where there would be a lot of traffic (and thus wear) or where they were at risk of stains, burns and other damage. The obvious exceptions to the "hard floor only" carpets would be found amongst nomads like the Arabs or Mongols, whose carpets were specifically designed to provide a clean floor for the tent. In any case, washing of a carpet was almost unheard of and cleaning was most restricted to taking the carpet outside and beating the dust and dirt out of it, often on an annual basis.
The modern, fitted carpet is quite a recent invention - this is generally an expanse of mass produced textile, often of quite complicated construction, that is expected to cover the entire floor of a room and remain fixed in place for its entire lifespan. There are also carpet tiles, which achieve the same function but with smaller pieces of material fitted together to make a complete covering - these are preferred for locations where it is likely that the carpet may become unevenly worn or damaged. In either case, cleaning in place is generally required.
Game and Story Use
- Carpet is a traditional thing for wrapping things in - notably smuggled aristocrats and dead people of all classes.
- As traditionally hardwearing fabric, it has also been recycled on various occasions for making bags and similar things (including hobo tents).
- Used carpet can also be used as a light excluder for killing off grass and weeds when clearing land.
- Carpet can be burned - either in its capacity for fire loading a building, or to generate smoke (especially modern carpets with a rubberised base layer).
- Old fashioned, decorative carpets make for annoyingly non-portable treasure and significant trade goods.
- Back in the day, an important status symbol and probably and indication that you're entering a high status part of a castle or other facility.
- Those with the correct powers could potentially animate a non-fixed type of carpet in a fight.
- And then there's always the traditional flying carpets of middle-Eastern legend.