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Persian Rugs

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
I'm considering the purchase of several Persian rugs for the new apartment I'll be moving into next month. Though I have some rudimentary knowledge of the subject, I have no doubt that putting it up for discussion here will yeild a wealth of information.

What types and qualities of rugs are available for what prices?

What are the pitfalls I should be aware of as a first-time purchaser?
post #2 of 71
If you are looking for collector grade rugs, I can't help you, as I know nothing about them.

For a rug that you actually plan to be able to walk on, I would recommend a Chinese silk rug. I prefer silk to wool, as the luster is quite beautiful, and changes depending on the angle to the light. They are surprisingly durable as well, although if you plan to put it in a high traffic area, you are probably better off if a wool rug with a somewhat thicker pile.

I bought mine in China, but there are tons of rugs from all origins and materials on ebay.

Other than that, higher knots per square inch indicate a higher quality rug with more detail and beauty (kind of like dpi for monitors.)
post #3 of 71
if you know someone from turkey, ask if they have connections. everybody sells rugs there.
post #4 of 71
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by faustian bargain
if you know someone from turkey, ask if they have connections. everybody sells rugs there.

My mother has a pretty extensive collection and is good friends with the Iranian rug merchant she bought them from. The only problem would be getting the rugs shipped to Japan at a reasonable cost -- pretty much out of the question.

There's an oriental rug shop within walking distance of my new apartment. I know enough to judge at a glance that this shop has some very high-quality rugs (several small silk rugs hanging on the walls, etc.). Shopping locally makes good sense, but as this will be my first time actually purchasing a rug, I want to know how to approach this as an informed buyer.

I'm considering three rugs: one for the dining/kitchen, one for the bedroom, and a runner for the hallway. I'm also toying with the idea of a silk rug to hang on the wall if the cost is not prohibitive. I want these to last a lifetime. I'm not sure that necessarily means buying a collector-grade rug.
post #5 of 71
Originally Posted by faustian bargain
if you know someone from turkey, ask if they have connections. everybody sells rugs there.
It is actually now difficult to find great "bargains" on rugs in Turkey. The local artisans are now hit up regularly by traveling vendors who mark up the rugs substantially. While previously true that this was a bargain region for rugs, it is now much more difficult to find the great bargains. I was there recently and verified this.
post #6 of 71
I would await a recommendation for a good online resource and study up. Ultimately rug pricing is a bit of mythology. As an upscale vendor once told me, referring to most rugs (although not to true antique rugs): "You can get an appraisal for almost any value on any handmade rug -- ultimately the market price for rugs is what the market will bear, not necessarily inherent value." In other words, after you've studied up, be prepared to be happy with what you pay for what you've purchased, as it can be difficult to determine in rugs (unlike clothing) if you've gotten a fantastic deal or overspent.
post #7 of 71
NR - I have direct experience with rugs in Japan, but having bought fruit in japan, I would have to think that rugs would be overpriced. I am gueessing that you could get a weekend trip to India for less than $1000, and that the delta of 3 rugs would more than cover that. I would agree with Kai - go for silk. India has some very good, very reasonably priced rugs.

I have seen soem very cheap rugs recently on ebay, but I have no idea how good they are, in terms of condition. but room sized rugs for under $1000 in wool from iran, circa 1970's.

good luck.
post #8 of 71
Pakistan turns out nice rugs (good shopping in Lahore), and you don't need a special visa to enter, whereas the Iranians are going to make it difficult unless you are on a tour. I am suggesting you go to the region to shop. The savings by doing it this way will more than make up for the air ticket. Plus, that part of the world is pretty cool.
post #9 of 71
When purchasing a rug I would recommend getting a rug made with handspun wool and natural dyes. Try the following retail websites:

Also, Woven Legends produces some of the best rugs available today. Another resourse for research purposes would be

Hope this helps

post #10 of 71
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. I've found it quite helpful.

Thanks, Jmath, for those links. I've been studying up.

I've decided that since I'm commissioning custom handmade furniture for the entire place, I also want collector-grade rugs. This means hand-spun, naturally died rugs. I'm buying nothing sight-unseen.

Zach and John, I spent quite a bit of time in India in the late 80s-early 90s when I was studying the sitar, so I'm quite familiar with the kinds of opportunities it presents as well as the logistical challenges. Still, the more I think about it, the more travelling to the region to buy just plain makes sense.

Since I would have to take as brief and targeted a trip as possible, I would need to have as much specific information as possible before I go. For example, where can I find the best selection of hand-spun, naturally died rugs? What is the price differential? For example, what would I pay for an exquisite Persian Tabriz that would cost over $20k in the States (and likely way more in Japan)? I'm not shy about putting money into this, but naturally I want to maximize my purchasing power. I would also have to factor in shipping and customs charges in addition to travel expenses.

Can anyone give me an idea of how to manage the logistics of a rug-purchasing trip?
post #11 of 71
Orient Rugs in San Francisco has a nice selection of Pakistani, Afghani, and Tibetan rugs. Some of them are simply stunning. Buying from San Francisco, of course, may not make sense for you, but the website is concise and informative:
post #12 of 71
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by pejsek
Orient Rugs in San Francisco has a nice selection of Pakistani, Afghani, and Tibetan rugs. Some of them are simply stunning. Buying from San Francisco, of course, may not make sense for you, but the website is concise and informative:

Thanks. That is very informative.

I picture something like this antiqued Aryana with my dining room table and chairs plop in the middle.

And something simple like this Tibetan covering the entire floor of the bedroom.

This article has taken some of the wind out of my sails for going on a buying trip.
post #13 of 71
The article really hits the nail on the head as far as trying to go to the original source countries to purchase rugs. Unless you are really an expert and know exactly what you are looking for, it's probably not advisable to go to the "bazars" and hunt for the rugs. IMHO it's better to find a reputable dealer where you are and working with them to decide what you want. You'll likely pay more, but in the long run you'll probably be happier with the choices. Also, there are excellent naturally-dyed, handspun wool rugs that are between $30-$40 per sq ft, such as the Zamin rugs being made in India.

As far as collectability goes, it's really difficult to say. My advise on this is to buy the rug that you love and goes well with the rest of your home interiors. If nothing else, you can pass it on to the next generation if the rug is well taken care of. Since a lot of the collectability at a given time is driven by the interior designers, what is hot today will not be tomorrow. It wil be something else tomorrow. For example, Aubussons were commanding big premiums in the 80s. Then in the 90s the market for those died off. Now they seem to be somewhat back again. Having said all this, however I would check out rugs made by Miri of Iran, Zollanvari of Iran and Woven Legends, which makes rugs in different countries. Expect to pay a high premium for Miri and Zollavari. These go for appox. $200+ per sq. ft. for some of their rugs, but they are the Cleverley of Oriental rugs today.
post #14 of 71
Thread Starter 
Jmath, thanks for the helpful advice. You clearly have quite a bit of knowledge about rugs. If I had nearly as much expertise with rugs as I do with handmade wooden furniture, I'd probably be able to haggle with a rug merchant.

The more I learn about oriental rugs, the more I appreciate the trouble professionals are saving me by doing the buying and putting the rugs in a conveniently located showroom. I'm willing to pay a certain premium for that.

Now to start shopping around in Tokyo and see what I can discover.
post #15 of 71
Personally, and this is just me, but I would rather: 1) become an expert on oriental rugs 2) travel to the source 3) make my own contacts 4) establish relationships with merchants than: 1) buy overpriced rugs from the first world It takes longer, but you come away from the experience with more than a floor covering. Of course, you'd need to dedicate your life. For some rugs, perhaps this is not such a huge sacrifice.
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