Guide to Purchasing a Turkish Rug
Consider what you will be using the rug for.
As expert Paul Hepworth discusses in Episode 2 of The Cleoaptra's Bling Podcast, traditionally rugs were created as something to keep for life, and even pass down through the generations. Personally, I myself have rugs that have been passed down to me from my grandparents, that are incredibly special. I feel connected to my roots every time I walk across my room.
Nowadays, many purchase them as just something to keep for a year or two as a decorative item. In either case some questions to ask yourself are:
- Where will it go in my home, and how large is that space?
- What is the existing colour scheme in my home, and how will this match with different types of rugs?
- What type of rug would best suit my lifestyle? Who will be using it (adults, kids, pets)?
You may initially purchase the rug simply as something short-term and decorative. However, if the answers to these questions are considered, you may instead end up with a rug that suits you so well, you can't help but keep it for a lifetime.
Research which regions produce which patterns, and then find artisans who work in those regions to create or sell you your rug.
Paul describes to Olivia that the rugs that are readily available to the pubic have become more and more homogenous and relied on the same broadly popular design styles. By researching various regions, and finding local artisans, you are not only supporting the local culture but also going to find something completely unique to others who have purchased mass-produced patterns. The answers to the questions above may help you decide, also. A Killim from the Balkans may suit someone with small children, while for those looking to curl up and veg out on their rug, a thick piled Mashad might be best.
Be open to the artisan's artistic input.
Formerly, rugs were used as a way of women's expression, at a time when they had few other ways to communicate their ideas and creativity. Luckily the opportunities for women have expanded, but for those still creating rugs, the chance to be artistic, rather than producing something made-to-order by the customer is diminishing. Being open to the contributions of your rug maker may mean that they will be enlightened with zeal and passion for your project. These artists have years of experience designing and weaving, and their input into the colours, knots, and design is very valuable. Asking for their opinion, rather than dictating all details will reap a wonderful and unique rug as a reward.
If buying second hand, go to a reputable dealer.
Not only will this ensure that your rug was not made under exploitative conditions, it will mean that you can learn more about the rug and its designs from the person from whom you purchased it.
Check the wool, stitch, knot count, colour and design, and any repairs.
- Feel the softness of the wool between your fingers. Look for springy, pliable wool. Brittle wool will wear faster.
- To test the durability, try to gentle dig your finger into the pile and touch the bottom of the rug. The more difficult this is, the tighter the weave, meaning it will last longer.
- Knot count is not the only thing that matters, and it is possible to buy a very high quality rug with a low knot count, and vice versa. However, it is one thing that is worth asking your vendor or artisan about, to get a fuller picture of the rug you are buying, or to compare two that you can't decide between.
- Check the intricacy of the design, and the colours. They should be aesthetically pleasing to you!
- Examine the carpet, especially on its underside to check if it has damage, or if it has been repaired in the past.
If purchasing overseas in a poorer country than your own, don't haggle down to the last penny.
Part of what makes owning one of these beautiful rugs such a wonderful experience is knowing that you are helping to support the local people who create and sell them. Go in with a reasonable budget in mind, and stick to it. But don't quibble over a figure that for you is a morning coffee, and for your bargaining partner might be an evening meal for their family.
Take your time with the purchase, and research the images yourself.
If you are planning a trip to a country in the region, do a little research before arriving, and after your first visit to a artisan's studio or the Grand Bazaar. Look up the types of rugs you saw that you are most interested in, and learn a bit about the designs independently.
Thank the artisans.
If you're in Turkey you can thank the people who made or sold you your rug with the words "teşekkür ederim", which is loosely pronounced as "tae-shak-cure edde-rim".
Care for your rug well.
Each type of rug has different needs, so the best thing to do is ask the creator or seller how to look after it. Every rug should be vacuumed or beaten regularly, and can be deep cleaned once per year.