Purchasing the perfect Persian antique or vintage rug demands time and attention. You have to choose a design that suits your style. Your choice doesn’t have to cost the moon. But it must match your vision and compliment the rest of your interior design scheme. It should ultimately help to put together your dream room.
Dizzying Array of Designs and Values
A handmade Persian rug can be had from only a few hundred pounds and rise to dazzling heights. The record price for a 17th Century Persian carpet through Sotheby’s in New York stands at $33.8m (£26.2m).
You may appreciate the bright colours and expert design of the 1880s Mohtasham, but does this make this simple tribal Oushak any less beautiful or intrinsically valuable?
Do Your Research
More people are buying rugs online each year, and a global pandemic has proved a catalyst in speeding up the trend oward shopping online in general. The World Wide Web has empowered online customers to become savvy and well-researched on the price and quality of the rugs they want. So, explore, research and search some more until you have an understanding of what you are purchasing. This includes finding out where, when and how your rug was made.
Mastery of the Weave
In the middle of the 19th Century, workshops were established in cities like Kerman, Kashan, Tabriz and Arak specifically to meet the demands of the emerging Western markets.
The most famous of these workshops was established by the UK-based rug merchants Ziegler Company in 1883 in the Sultanabad (Arak) district. The clarity of the designs, along with their patial depth and sense of movement, are all elements that add to the desirability of these pieces.
Chemical dyes started creeping into rug production in 1920s. However, there is nothing like natural dyes used in most antique rugs for rich colours and depth.
As a rule, a quality handmade Persian rug is:
- Woven in 300 to 500 knots per square meter or higer
- Made with natural or even organic undyed hand-spun wool that all go towards making rugs that will stand the test of time. This not only offers a natural lustre to a handmade Persian rug but also makes them resistant to dirt and ware. Some very fine rugs are can only be made with machine spun wool, asthey need to be very thin.
- The use of authentic Natural Dyes
Art of weaving
The prevalent art of weaving rugs can be traced back over a millennium in Iran. Weaving rugs have been refined over generations, and there are history and high-quality craftsmanship behind it. These include the traditional natural dying, and the high-quality local wool that is handspun, which are the fundamental ingredients of rugs. It may take several months to several years to make a Persian rug. These, along with the wide variety of designs and excellent Persian weaving techniques, have given rise to the most valuable antiques of today.
Quality and Durability
Persian rugs are a testament to the adage that ‘things of quality have no fear of time’. For confirmation of that, browse through our website or the goods of any reputable dealer. There are no Indian, Nepalese or Pakistani equivalents. Even though the mass-produced Persian designs, have never matched the quality or durability.
Be it an antique kilim, Isfahan or Aubusson rug. Key determinants of quality are the following:
- Intricacies of design and the execution of a master weaver
- The durable lustre of hand-spun wool
- Depth of colour
- Knots per Square inch (KPSI)
What makes an antique rug valuable?
Additional factors come into play when buying an antique piece. Conventionally a minimum of 100 years has been the threshold put in place by antique fairs and showrooms.
Key determinants of the value of an antique include:
- Rarity is a principal determinant
- An antique’s provenance can add substantial value
Buying future Heirlooms
The Disposable culture of recent decades where items are regularly replaced has become unpalatable to most. Consumers want furnishings that endure. The discerning customers are after quality handmade rugs that can be cherished for generations and passed on as family heirlooms.
You need not spend the moon in search of quality. There are antique or vintage Persian rugs that now compare so well at price to the modern rugs that may sooner or later end up in landfills.
If purchased wisely, good-quality pieces will retain their value and appreciate over time.
- Remember, quality will never go out of style.
- Condition is critical, one must be aware that this will affect the value greatly.
- Buy from a reputable seller. A reputable dealer will always tell you if a handmade rug is restored or altered.
- Buy the best your funds will allow. Over time you wil see a better return from one quality handmade rug for £2000 than five average pieces for £400 each.
Is it a Genuine Persian Rug?
Not acquiring the genuine article may well prove a false economy. Firstly the price differences between a genuine new modern Persian rug and a copy are at times negligible. Persian rugs are relatively inexpensive for what they are. One of the primary reasons is that over the years, Persian Rug production has been much higher in Iran than in other countries. Secondly, to the untrained eye, the difference in the quality of non-Persian copies may not be readily discernible. Yet after only a year of use, the inferiority of such goods begins to tell.
Persian rugs win out when it comes to price and quality, the two significant factors you have to consider when you’re buying. So buy a Persian rug if you are after a long-lasting, timeless piece that you can pass on as a family heirloom.
Is it a Genuine Antique?
Theoretically, an antique rug is over a hundred years old. Yet, it would also have to have other vital attributes to make it a valuable antique.
The introduction of chemical dyes around the 1925s is an essential milestone in rug production. Chemical dyes gradually crept into most areas and became more prevalent because of cost and time. Yet, the lustrous quality of natural dyes used in antique rugs can instantly set it apart. Having said that some very fine pieces use very good quality Chrome dyes.
Array of Colours
The unique natural pigments in the palettes of old masters are used as basic signs of authenticity; The lead white, bone black, ochres, and sienna used by Rembrandt or Rubens purple hues were created by blending wood charcoal, lead white, and cochineal. Similarly, an antique rug of a master weaver will display its pedigree through the vibrant colours unique to certain natural dyes.
Signs of Quality
Above all, it is the quality of the design that will determine value. If it is a very fine city piece, the precise execution of the design and the shape of the rug is also critical. With village or tribal pieces, quirkiness can be of great advantage. Generally, in terms of design, if it is unique it will be much more desirable by a collector.
So, for a collectable antique rug, rarity and condition are the two things one should focus on. But above all, it should be something you would like to own, enjoy and treasure rather than the money side of the factors.
Always in Style
A Persian rug is never out of style, be it adorning the palatia homes of Henry VIII or draped on one of the most iconic pieces of furniture in the world, Freud’s couch. A Persian rug or runner readily blends into contemporary spaces bringing a character to modern city living, while a grand large Persian rug sits easily in a room strewn with priceless antiques.
A beautifully crafted Persian rug may take as long as a year to weave — is the antithesis of disposable consumerism and throwaway culture. Those who have inherited an antique Persian rug from previous generations will vouch for its durability. While Persian rug antique collectors will tell you, that a well-chosen piece is unlikely to depreciate. Even a handmade vintage piece can be sold after many years of use at its original price or a profit and is very unlikely to end up in a landfill site.
Each carpet has its history hidden within it, be it a very fine piece or a small nomadic one. Many prized pieces with influential designs were woven in the workshops of the 16th and 17thCentury.
Tribal carpets are often unique as they are typically woven freestyle for domestic use, with distinctive designs, colours and weaves that are identifiable to a tribe or subtribe.
Those in search of quirky idiosyncratic rug designs can also find them in sturdy Village artisanal rugs that are woven in homes as part of the chores of the farming households for their use.
Natural Stain Repellent
The quality of wool has a significant impact on the look and durability of a carpet. Hand-spun wool gives the rug a lustrous, almost three-dimensional look. At the same time, the natural lanolin in hand-spun wool increases protection against spills and stains on your rug.
Natural dyes, by their nature, would produce different intensities and colour saturation, which would come to the fore over years of use and washing. These are changes of colour that you would see in some antique rugs. They are called Abrash in the trade.
These antique pieces are considered works of art that you can put on the floor, walk on and enjoy. Naturally, there will be some wear and restoration in these pieces.
A collector puts more importance on rarity and artistic merit than the condition. Having said that, if the wear is not compatible with the age of the carpet, it can affect its value considerably. Other aspects that can affect value are:
- Extent of repair
- Sun fading
- Staining or chemical washing
Last but not least, by purchasing a vintage or antique rug, you don’t just get something unique for your home; you are also a more environmentally-friendly consumer. Your choice of a Persian handmade rug reduces landfills and reduces carbon emissions.
Ultimately your choice of a Persian handmade rug is a practical alternative to the “throwaway society as quality rugs are made to last for generations.
Also,, be mindful that genuine Persian rugs have steadily climbed in recent years as the artisan weavers have fast diminished in numbers inside Iran.