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. John, I definitely agree with you in principle and when I was younger I wouldn't have done it any other way. As it is now, my time is at a premium, so the travel part of the equation would be pretty difficult. In any case, I can become something of an expert, and doing so starts with looking at rugs locally and learning by actually seeing and touching a variety of rugs. At any rate, it's becoming quite clear that purchasing rugs is going to be a long and deliberate process.