Considered the crème de la crème of oriental rugs – and rugs in general rugs, Persian rugs are known for their unbelievably colorful, yet artful designs, and luxurious feel. They also carry price tags so hefty, you’d need burlap dollar bags to afford just one. So what puts them at the top of the metaphorical rug food chain? And after spending said hefty burlap bag of cash, how can you ensure you don’t get short changed – that is, how do you confirm the rug’s authentic?
Why are Persian Rugs so Expensive?
There’s a plethora of reasons why oriental rugs in general cost an arm and leg, but Persian rugs take the cake, cost wise. In fact, their high costs have spun “Persian styled” alternatives, for those who can’t afford the real deal. Three things in particular account for the high costs of these rugs; crafting cost, history, and time value of each rug.
The most important cost factor is the time it takes for a rug to be constructed. From the time it takes to source for materials, all the way to hand weaving every single knot. The whole process of crafting a Persian rug is done without machinery, so it understandably takes a lot of time and labor. Imagine hand knitting a sweater, but x1000. Other factors, like the type of material used to make the carpet, can affect also affect costs. With eco-friendly materials like cotton, wool and silk being the most widely used, it’s easy to see where the costs will go – considering they can be extremely fragile to handle.
For example, because silk on silk rugs (silk foundation woven with silk thread) use such delicate materials, weaving a rug requires a lot of care – which translates into more time spent on the final product. Bottom line, the larger the rug being woven and the more delicate the material being used, the more skilled the artisans need to be. All of these translates into higher costs.
The craft of Persian rugs has existed for more than 2500 years. And while most of them have been lumped into the generic term “Persian rug”, each one is unique. The complex structures and designs of each rug represents the masterpiece of a specific village in modern day Iran. Note that because each region in Iran limits the number of rugs that are manufactured each year, it can be very difficult to find authentic ones once the quota is reached. Thus, fakes abound. A Persian rug manufactured in India, no matter how well hand crafted it is, might be less valuable than any oriental rug on the market – because it didn’t come from an Iranian village. A rug expert might be able to tell you exactly which village a Persian rug originated from by simply studying the unique patterns and structure of the knots. It’s value isn’t just superficial though.
Experts and artisans consider curved weaving a lot more difficult to achieve than simple geometric weavings. Persian rugs, which are filled with said curved weaving – unique to certain regions – represent a high level of skill and artistry. Creating a knot requires a certain level of craftsmanship that’s difficult to master. In essence, buying one Persian rug is like purchasing a painting – no two are ever the same.
Some of the most valuable Persian rugs today have been passed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms. Once a rug reaches the age of 20, and is still in good condition, it becomes vintage. Once it crosses 100 years, it becomes an antique, a collectible. The more uncommon it becomes, the higher its value It’s like with household chests and furniture that have survived the wheels of time intact – their values keep increasing with time.
So the Persian rug you buy could become a valuable investment, not just become the eco-friendly materials used in making them are better for your health and the environment, but because their price tags “could” appreciate. Emphasis on “could” because if you don’t take proper care of it, its value will depreciate with time if it doesn’t maintain its pristine condition. In other words, it really should just be called old, instead of antique. If you’re looking to increase your net worth by buying a Persian rug, don’t hold your breathe. Because even if you buy a genuine Persian rug, it would take decades for its value to appreciate – let your grand kids worry about its value.
Human beings are notorious for wanting what they can’t have. And in recent years, Iran – including its famous Persian rugs – have been subject to sanctions by a host of foreign governments. This makes their rugs even more exclusive and therefore, more expensive. This isn’t to say the craftsmanship on these rugs isn’t worth its hefty prices tag, just that its elusiveness has inflated its worth. Thanks to said elusiveness, many fake or “alternate” Persian rugs abound. This brings us to the next section, determining authenticity.
How to Identify Authentic Persian Rugs
One of the few foolproof ways to ensure you don’t get scammed is to pay an expert to buy one for you, but that’s an expense few people can afford. The next best option is to visit reputable companies like https://rugsource.com/rugs/categories/persian-rugs
Because their reputations are at stake, they usually have experts make the selections for them. Whatever method you choose, it’s still always best to be able to recognize one when you see or feel it. Be on the look out for these.
- Check for imperfections: slight imperfections indicate the rug was most likely handmade, since machine-made rugs would be virtually flawless. Look for slightly crooked knots, or backsides that are a bit thicker than others. Next, flip the rug to its front and notice the symmetry. Very rarely will you find handmade rugs with exactly symmetrical shapes and sizes.
- Check for uneven colors, known as “abrash”. Iranians only use colorfast dyes, whose colors remain true regardless of how often you wash it. To test if your rug is authentic, place a damp rag discreetly on the rug. If the color transfers to the rag, it isn’t authentic.
- The weaving pile used for handmade rugs are wooden. This creates an unevenness that will be absent in machine-made rugs. Learn to recognize the difference between Iranian and non Iranian fringes, and you should be good to go.
While these beautiful rugs can cost you heavily, their artistry’s worth the price. And if you’re careful in your selection and maintenance, your Persian rug could become an heirloom. If your bank account can’t afford your artistic taste, there are always “Persian styled” rugs that cost less.