I had the pleasure of living and working for three years in Kazakhstan. After a fresh fall of snow, in sub zero temperatures, I watched from my apartment window as my Kazakh neighbours dragged their carpets out into the snow filled court yard to clean them.
I soon learnt that the snow must be fresh and soft, not compacted and the temperature must be low enough that nothing is melting. Then you simply rub the carpets in the snow or walk about on them face side down and then beat the snow off with a beater or stiff broom. The dust and dirt clings to the snow and is lifted out with miraculous ease. The colours of the carpet are completely unspoiled as the snow is long gone before it melts. After a warming beating , the rug is dry and ready to go back in front of the fire.
As temperatures today never got above minus three, it was the perfect opportunity to clean two silk and two wool rugs. My neighbours had been celebrating trois rois and stepping out for a cigarette, still wearing their paper crowns, watched me in bemusement. I tried to explain in bad French that this was the perfect way to clean a rug and they smiled . I am sure this will add to the stock of village tales about the odd English.
Central Asians make the most beautiful carpets in the world. Their intricacy and rich colours are legendary. These carpets kept the yurts , surrounded by vast steppes of snow, warm and snug. They also know how to clean them and my faithful rugs now look like new!