The best known Iranian cultural export, the Persian carpet, is far more than just a floor covering to an Iranian. A Persian carpet is a display of wealth, investment and integral part of religious and cultural festivals and used in everyday life, e.g., as a prayer mat.
Iran is the world’s leading carpet producer. Persian carpets are in great demand everywhere across the world in spite of the existing challenges in the global carpet market.
The earliest known Persian carpets, which probably date back to the 5th century, was discovered in a remote part of Siberia, suggesting that carpets were in Persia more than 2500 years ago.
Historians know that by the 7th century AD, Persian carpets made of wool or silk had become famous in court circles throughout the region. Their quality and subtlety of design were renowned and carpets were exported to places as far as China, although for many centuries they must have remained a great luxury in their country of production, with the finest pieces reserved for royalty.
The best are made from wool from sheep, goats and occasionally camels, although its quality varies from region to region. Cotton is cheaper and easier to use than wool and silk is used mainly for decorative rugs as it is not practical for everyday use.
Tips for Buying and Maintaining Persian Carpets, Rugs, and Kilims
Persian carpets and rugs are among the most beautiful in the world and a trip is incomplete without buying a Persian carpet for your home.
Here are a few tips to help you choose a Persian carpet or rug that is best suited to your home and more importantly your budget.
Persian Carpet Variety
Explore the Variety on Offer: The best Persian carpets which manifest the highly developed artistic craftsmanship of the Iranian people are usually woven in Tabriz, Kashan, Qom, Isfahan, Mashhad, Kerman, Naeen, Josheghan, Hamadan and Turkmen Sahara: while the art of carpet weaving is also widely appreciated and practiced in almost every other part of the count.
The carpets have a design that is distinct and draws inspiration from the flora and fauna of that area. Kilims or tribal rugs made by nomadic tribesmen have rectilinear or abstract geometrical designs and are another less expensive option that you could explore. Once you decide which type of carpet or rug appeals to you, narrowing down on a suitable option becomes easier.
Handmade versus Machine Made: This is a big factor in determining the price of a carpet. Needless to say, the handmade ones are more expensive. Take a look at the back of the carpet from the corner to determine its make; if the patterns of the knots are regular, then it is machine made while those of a handmade carpet will be a bit irregular.
The “knot” Count: Gereh or the number of knots per square meter is an important factor in assigning a price tag to a Persian carpet. The rule of thumb is that the more knots per square meter, the finer the carpet. You may turn the carpet over and count the knots yourself. However, most prominent carpet stores have the count listed and typically this would be 10000, 40000, 90000, 160000 and 250000 knots per square meter. If you are buying an antique carpet, then do not take the Gereh factor into account as antique carpets have other criteria that must also be considered.
Remember, Persian Rugs are a Piece of Art: this will help you appreciate the time and effort that goes into designing each carpet and rug. Also, make sure that you like the look, feel and color of the carpet. Urge the Shopkeeper to spread it out so that you can appreciate the design and layout and before you take it home. More importantly, visualize how it would fit into your lifestyle and décor back home.
Explore your options: Shop around before you make a decision. Visit different stores to check out design, styles, sizes and more importantly prices. Recently, there has been a spurt of online buying options for rugs and carpets, but the touch and feel factor is important in such a purchase, so do not take the shorter route in this case.
Caring for Your Persian Carpet
Once you’ve made your purchase and are wondering how to take care of your latest buy, here are some tips on how you can keep that carpet off the rug in good condition for years to come.
Use a rug pad beneath your carpet, particularly if it is antique or expensive. This not only maintains alignment but also prevents wear and tear.
The use of furniture slides if you must keep the furniture on your carpet is recommended to prevent depressions and damage from occurring.
Spreading your carpet out in the Sun. an annual airing of the carpet will get rid of any damage by moths and wet weather.
Regularly rotate your carpet or rug, inspect the underside for moth damage, vacuum it or give it a beating with a wooden paddle to get rid of dust.