Sunday, December 9, 2007

Persians Are Back!

This evening when I was browsing the Internet, I happened to see this note by Emmett Eiland. I liked it and would like to share it with you.


oriental rugs PersianTHE PERSIANS ARE BACK
by Emmett Eiland

The moment we heard that trade barriers were down with Iran, we were hell bent on flying off to beat the bushes in Tehran and the Persian countryside for rugs, old or new. At about the same time that we heard the news, the scion of a Shiraz-based rug-making family arrived in our Berkeley showroom and laid out a sampling of 10 or so rugs from their production, all dyed with natural substances and knotted with hand spun wool. Most were from Shiraz, others from Kirman and from near Isfahan where Baktiaris are woven.

Modern Isfahan Carpet

On hands and knees we poured over new Kermans as fine as the best old ones and new Baktiaris with natural dyes - all with wonderful wool.

But the colors were another matter. Naturally dyed they were, but attractive? Maybe not. Certain very bright colors were not commercially acceptable or pleasing to us personally. Worse, when Natasha, a model of good manners, spoke gently about her concerns about the rugs' colors, one of the Persians took her words personally and bristled. That's a bad sign..

And price. Those rugs were expensive! Our impression is that some Iranian rug manufacturers have an exaggerated notion of American wealth. It is true that some Americans will pay "anything" for the right carpet, but it really does have to be right - and those wealthy few for whom money is no problem are likely to bring in a team of designers to confirm the "rightness" of the colors. The rugs we saw were not quite right, and we have reason to believe that they are the very cream of the Persian crop.

Modern Bakhtiari Carpet
Though we’re disappointed, sober thought has convinced us to wait before we go to Iran. Our concern is whether or not there is anything to buy there- at a time when there is so much else of real merit to be had elsewhere. Reports from colleagues who have gone to Iran and returned are not encouraging. They report only very scarce antique rugs- remember that Europe has been buying in Iran all these years while we have not-, and these few antiques are offered at huge prices. Furthermore, they have found the market offering only a very limited number of new rugs with natural dyes. Deprived of American demand for nearly 20 years, many realistic Persian rug makers have been producing less expensive rugs of limited merit for the thriftier European market. Sooner or later Iran is going to lead the pack again. That's hard to doubt after seeing the quality of Persian wool and the skill of Persian weavers. That will take a while. But when it happens, oh will we be happy to tromp around Persia again, looking for the gems.

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