Oriental Rugs and Carpets - FAQ's

Interview with Silk Road Collections

When is Silk Road Collections open for business?

In the summer my business hours are 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. In the winter it's 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. We are closed on Sundays.

Where is Silk Road Collections located?

In 1998, I officially started Silk Road Collections in the Plaza Mercado at 112 West San Francisco Street (Suite 110). It's in the heart of downtown Santa Fe within the Santa Fe Plaza.

How do you acquire the Oriental rugs and carpets in your shop. Do you have people scouting the world?

Are you talking about Antique Oriental Rugs or New World Rugs? I often travel to major rug producing regions to purchase hand made oriental rugs, textiles and ceramics. I also know people who scout the world for Antique Oriental Rugs. They advertise in the Middle East. They go door-to-door and ask “Do you have any old rugs for sale?” When they find something special, they contact me to see if I am interested in purchasing the rug for my shop. If I say yes, we work together to ship it here. If I like what I see, the process continues and we agree on the terms of purchase.

It's like fishing to acquire Antique Oriental Rugs. There are some you'll never see again in your lifetime. If you don't jump in and buy it, it's gone.

Silk Road Collections has a wonderful collection of antique Turkish Rugs, Caucasian Rugs, Turkmen Rugs and Persian Antique Oriental Rugs. Many are over 200 years old.

I'm also very selective when it comes to New World Oriental Rugs. It's hard to find genuine natural dye rugs in the market today. The majority of the rugs you see are tea washed (acid washed). The rugs are woven, then sprayed with tea to make them look like old, antique rugs. My goal is to acquire natural dye rugs with a natural wash. Finding them in the market is not an easy job. That's why I prefer to go directly to the sources.

Please check out Silk Road Collections hand-picked selection of New World Oriental Rugs

Where are those sources?

At the moment northern Afghanistan is the main source for me. I work with the Turkmen Tribe (Turkish ethnic) there. They were among the first aboriginal Turkish Tribes in central Asia. They do phenomenal work. Another source is Uzbekistan. I go there mainly for hand-woven silk rugs. So it's just those two places for now. There are very good sources in Iran, but currently, there is an embargo there.

See our Oriental Rug Buyers Guide - Story Of Rugs for an overview of oriental rug producing regions and culture.

Antique Rugs and Hand-Knotted Turkish or Persian Oriental Rugs in general are becoming increasingly rare. Why is that?

Unfortunately, there are many Turkish and Persian ethnic countries that don't produce hand-woven, organic and natural dye rugs anymore. Turkey is one of them. It used to be one of the best sources of these rugs. I acquired a lot of rugs from Turkey in the past, but the resources there are extremely limited now.

Besides Turkey, there are a lot of areas in the world where you don't see weaving anymore. In the early 70's the craft slowly died. Preparing organic materials and dye; hand-knotting rugs and weaving takes a lot of time. In my opinion, people want everything fast. They want to work in big companies to support their families. People have changed their minds about the slow world. They want the easy, fast world.

Another reason is the economy. In those weaving regions, labor costs went up a lot. The cost of the rug always has to be connected to the cost of the labor.

So it became unprofitable to hand-weave the rugs. So now most of the Oriental rugs and carpets are machine made?

There are a lot of machine made rugs and many are commissioned to be made in India. They can copy Persian and Turkish designs and labor costs are less, so it's more cost-effective. Let's say it takes 12 months to hand weave a rug. That could be over $6,000.00 for labor costs in Turkey. Then add in the cost of organic materials, taxes, shipping costs and profit margins. That could add up to a retail value of $12,000 to $16,000 dollars for one quality hand knotted or woven natural dye rug. Although these type of rugs often increase in value, that's a lot of money for many people. That's why so many rugs now are machine made.

What is the most important Antique Oriental rug you have ever acquired that is in the store?

I have a large Shirvan rug made in the 1930's. The size is 10 x 13 feet. This rug is rare because of it's size. The Caucasian people were a nomadic tribal people. Most Causcasian rugs were "village pieces" made for use in tents and yurts. These were area rugs used for floor coverings, room dividers, wall hangings and table and bed coverings.

This rare Shirvan Rug is considered a"Palace Exceptional" rug.

 

 

Silk Road Collections has a great collection of Antique Caucasian Rugs for sale.

How old is the oldest Oriental Rug?

The oldest rug in the world is 2,500 years old. It was found in a tomb buried under the ice in Siberia. It's the afterlife tradition in that part of the world - you take all your jewelry and other valuables with you.

To learn more about this amazing discovery please see our Story Of Rugs Oriental Rug Buyers Guide.


Purchasing A Quality Persian or Turkish Oriental Rug or Carpet

How do you know if an antique rug is genuine?

Number 1: how the wool ages

Number 2: the oxidation process

Number 3: the history and design of the area where a rug made

Determining the true age of a rug is one of the most difficult skills to acquire. You really have to have an in-depth knowledge of Turkish and Persian Oriental Rug development which includes history, regional background and culture, color oxidation, materials and design patterns. Then you can use your judgement as to whether it's original or not.

What should I look for when buying a quality Perisan or Turkish Oriental rug?

Number 1: It has to be organic natural dye

Number 2: It has to be done by Turkish or Persian ethnic weavers. There are about 13 countries or provinces where the language spoken is Parsi, Kurdish, Turkish or Armenian.

Number 3: Knot count. How many knots per square inch.

Number 4: Age and history of the rug. The older the rug, the better because the natural dye has oxidized and the color has become beautifully saturated. These antique oriental Persian and Turkish rugs are luminous.

Note: For old rugs only. Must be in good condition. If it has big holes or noticeable damage, you can appreciate that it's hand-made but you can not consider it a valuable rug.

Why should someone buy a natural dye rug as opposed to chemical dyed rug?

Natural dyes are so vibrant. Sunlight (ultraviolet light) does not fade the rug. It's impossible, if the dye is done right. Organic natural dye oxidizes. The rug will oxidize due to interaction with the air and the sun over the long run. The color will shift either darker or softer depending on what material was used for the color. Once the natural dye in the rugs starts to oxidize, the rug becomes even more beautiful. You won't ever want to replace it with a new rug. A natural dyed rug does not bleed at all no matter how much it is soaked in water and washed.

What natural dyes are most commonly used?

There are some main ones. Indigo, Madder Root, Dill Flower, Skin of the Pomegranate, Black Walnut Shell (famous for the outer rug borders – a brownish black).

You get blue from Indigo. red comes from the Madder Root, a wild tree that grows in the desert. Madder Root produces orange to gold and all the way to just red. If you want to make a darker red, you mix red and blue to get burgundy. That is done a lot.

Then there is the skin of the Pomengranate. It produces a sort of lightish brownish or beige color.

Green is a combination dye. You mix together yellow which is usually a Dill flower and Indigo (blue) to get green.

You may also see some areas in rugs with no dye. In Turkey they have a wealth of different breeds of lambs. They shave the lamb, spin the wool and weave it. They don't need to dye it. So the colors are all off white and gray, and some are black. Sometimes you'll see brown where camel wool has been used.

You met a few of the world's most famous natural dye producers. When you and other dealers buy rugs, it would be better if the rugs were made with dyes these guys produced?

Of course, it adds value to the rug and the color distribution is amazing. Once you see these rugs you say, “That's it!” You can't get any better quality than that. Once you compare the quality of these rugs to others, it does not compare.

In 2005 I made an important trip to Iran, where I bought a large collection of Gabbehs and Kilims that were dyed by the master dyer of Iran, Mr. Syah Abbasi. To learn more about this trip, please read my biography and the Kish Carpet article in the Silk Road Media Center.

Another world re-nowned natural dyer is Fattulo Kendjaev, who learned the art of carpet making from his grandfather and father. He does silk rugs with natural dyes. It's the most difficult thing to do ever, by far. Because silk is very sleek, it's extremely hard to dye. Mr. Kendjaev is one of the guys who really brought back the traditional art of weaving to the Uzbek.

When Uzbekistan became one of the republics of the Soviet Union in 1924, artistic expression was dictated by the Soviet government in the service of politics. The traditional folk arts like weaving and embroidery fell by the wayside in Central Asia; Uzbekistan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Turkestan, Kazakstan, Azerbajan and Kyrgyzstan.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990-1991, UNESCO began an initiative to help the people revive their art and popularize Uzbek culture. Mr. Fatullo Kendjaev and family were enlisted to recreate traditional handwoven, natural dye rugs and suzani (embroidered textiles).

Mr. Kendjaev also authored a book about natural dyes. So he does silk with the organic natural dyes and he can do any color.

We have video clips throughout the our website showing the process of natural dyeing. See the Story Of Rugs Oriental Rug Buyers Guide

Are there famous Turkish or Persian Oriental rug designers?

Not now, but back in the history there were notable names you could go after. The two names are: Ziegler Mahal and Haji Jalili.

Ziegler Mahal: In the 1860's, the Ziegler Company, a Swiss firm based in Manchester, England set up shop in Arak, a province located within the city of Mahal (formerly Sultanabad) in Iran. There is a fascinating history associated with Ziegler Mahal carpets. They were amongst the first European manufacturers and dealers of organic, hand knotted, natural dye carpets based in Persia (Iran). At the time, the supply of antique rugs in Persia had been depleted and rug exports had slowed to a trickle. Their sole objective was to produce Ziegler Mahal rugs to satisfy western demand for fine "older" Persian carpets.

Ziegler Mahal used traditional, regional 19th century Persian and Turkish designs. What makes these carpets unique is the addition of "European flavor" to the design patterns. The carpets were woven with hand-spun wool dyed with natural dyes which produced an abrashed, muted look. The most popular color of the Ziegler Mahal c was a deep rose red. The red dye was created by bathing wool for two days in madder and whey after which it was scoured for nearly another two days with running water.

The Ziegler Company operated successfully for half a century and produced thousands of Ziegler Mahal rugs and carpets for European and American markets.

 

Haji Jalili: At the end of the 19th century, the Azerbaijan town of Tabriz in north west Iran experienced a revival. Once again, it became an important rug making center. Perhaps one of the most important figures during this period was the master weaver Haji Jalili, from the nearby town of Marand. He owned workshops that produced small quantities of unique and magnificent carpets.

Haji Jalili is best known today for his signature designs, distinctive color palettes, exquisite craftmanship and attention to detail. A Haji Jalili rug is distinquished by it's palette of colors. Light colors such as ivory, wheat and light greys were used as background colors. Pinks, golds, copper, aqua blues and greys were interwoven into geometric floral and undulating vine leaf designs. Ornate medallions and designs were often bordered by deep indigo, rose, terra cotta and almost black for striking contrast. Pieces by Haji Jalili are elusive and highly sought after by decorators and Antique Persian Rug collectors.

Haji Jalili's silk on silk peices are amongst the finest Persian carpets ever woven.

See our History of Turkish and Persian Oriental Rugs section to learn more.


Custom Design Oriental Rugs

I see a rug in your shop that I love, but it doesn't match my home décor. Does Silk Road Collections offer custom design services?

Any rug I have in my shop can be duplicated. It can be ordered in different colors and sizes. I do not charge extra for special orders if the design is based on a rug I have in my shop. However, if a customer wants me to produce a custom design rug of their own, then there would be extra costs involved.

What is the process for custom made Oriental rugs?

For the most part, the weavers do not do the design. Someone has to design it for them. We take the rug design and build the cartoon. The cartoon is a layout / tracing of the rug design overlaid with a grid. Each grid square is equal to one knot. The finished cartoon has to match the exact size of the rug, knot for knot. The weavers put the cartoon at the top of loom. They start weaving from the bottom of the loom and follow the design above them.

The second step is to choose the colors. Next, you have to match the dyes to the colors. Then you hand over the designs to the rug weavers.

See our Story of Rugs Oriental Rug Buyers Guide or custom made rug section for more information.

Do you offer design consulting services?

I am happy to help you choose the right rug for your home or office. Oriental rugs add ornamental flair to dining rooms, entrances / foyers, living rooms, bedrooms and more.

I will look at the space and make design suggestions. Silk Road Collections offers custom design rugs and art, done to your specifications. We take care of the process from design to finished product. We furnished an entire house in Washington State. We provided the rug designs, picked out the colors, showed the client yarn samples and shipped the specs and design overseas. The rugs were woven and shipped back in one year.

See our custom design Rug section for more information.


Professional Rug Cleaning Services, Rug Repair & Restoration, Antique Rug Appraisals and Silk Road Collections Shipping Policy

How do you wash or clean the rugs?

The traditional method the Persians and Turkish used was to throw organic, natural dye rugs in the river. The river moves and flows over the rug and cleans the rugs naturally and gently without damaging the rug. Today, this method may not be practical. You can just take the rug outside and hose it off.

Can I tell you the story about my brother? He has a home in downtown Santa Fe. He is a rug collector and has all kinds of rugs including natural dye, new ones and antique ones. He was overseas for three months. When he came home he found that the sewage system had backed up into his house. The water was up to his knees and his rugs were swimming in dirty water. He called me and said “Mohamed, what do I do?” I told him, “Don't worry, with natural dye rugs, just take them outside and hose them off”. He did that and left them to dry out in the sun. Later, when I saw his rugs, I was amazed. I could not tell it was covered with sewage water for over three months. But not every rug is like that. Only the right natural dye rugs.

See Oriental Rug Services in Santa Fe, NM for more information.

 

What if I don't want to clean it myself or don't live near a river?

Then you call Mohamed! Silk Road Collections offers professional Oriental Rug Cleaning services. We wash rugs using traditional methods – by hand with organic soaps. Our basic charge to clean an average dirty wool rug is $2.50 per square foot. If there are difficult spots and stains, then that will affect the cleaning cost.

Is there some fixative that is added to the dye to prevent bleeding?

After the weavers sheer the wool, they use a mordant to prepare the wool to absorb the dye. They use Alum Salt to fix the dye so it doesn't bleed. If the rug is prepared and done right, it will last for generations.

What if the rug I buy from you fades or bleeds?

I know my rugs. That's why Silk Road Collections warranty for organic natural dye rugs is 10 years for fading and bleeding. If you buy a chemical dyed, commercial quality rug, thats a different story.

Does Silk Road Collections offer Professional Rug Repair and Restoration Services?

Silk Road Collections does offer the best professional Oriental Rug Restoration and repair services in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the surrounding areas. We repair any sized rug including Navajo rugs. The cost will depend on the extent of the damage.

What is Silk Road Collections Shipping Policy?

We ship free any rug that is $700.00 and up to any state in the country.

Do you find that most of your clients are knowledgeable about antique rugs? Do they come to you for advice, or appraisals?

I always like to educate people when they come in to Silk Road Collections, I don't mind at all. I teach them how to choose a quality Persian or Turkish Oriental Rug and what to look for.

Silk Road Collections will do appraisals for all rugs whether they are new or antique rugs. The fee depends on the rug. The cost varies and can run anywhere between $80 - $120.

Please see our Story of Rugs Oriental Rug Buyers Guide for more information.


Other Products

You also have a collection of Ulla Darni Glass. When and where did you meet Ulla and are you an exclusive dealer of her work in Santa Fe?

Yes, I am an exclusive representative of her work here in Santa Fe. Ulla used to have a gallery here. She came into Silk Road Collections to buy a rug for her gallery. She told me about her glass artwork. I went to her shop to take a look and bought some of her work. She furnished her houses with rugs bought from my shop. In 2008, Ulla shut down her gallery in Santa Fe and put all of her glassworks on consignment in my shop.

Please see our exclusive collection of Ulla Darni Glass

You also represent Rustam Usmanov, renowned Ceramist from Rishtan, Uzbekistan. His handpainted ceramic dishes, teapots, boxes are exquisite. When and how did you meet him?

I met him in Santa Fe. Usmanov was invited to exhibit his work here and I invited him to my shop. Rustam Usmanov is the only artist in the Rishtan to have gotten an education at the Tashkent Institute of Theatrical Arts at the Department of Mechanical Drawing. He also studied with masters Khakimdjon Sattorov and Ibragim Kamilov. People from all over the world travel to Uzbek to see Usmanov and his work. His ceramics are all hand made with natural pigments. It reminds me a lot of Native American Pottery.

If you are looking for that special gift, visit our fabulous collection of Hand Painted Rishtan Ceramics. We also do custom orders.

Just a note to say "thanks" for the great rug that I purchased from you during the holidays. I found some clips that have plastic inserts so they do not damage the rug and I hung it in my office. I've also started reading about Persian rugs and I'm having a lot of fun going to estate sales in L.A. and checking out the bargains. Thanks again for making our trip so much fun.

Mark Dawson

While visiting Santa Fe, my wife and I bought a small Turkman rug in your gallery. It arrived today. The new fringe looks great, and the mat makes a big difference. Thank you. It's beautiful.

Peter H. Pawlowicz

Thank you so much for the runner. It goes with the hassock you so extremely kindly gave me last year. It also perfectly fits a traffic pattern in my house. It's lovely.

Sheila

We wish to thank you for the two beautiful rugs we now have hanging in our house. Also we very much appreciate the prompt response to my request to see more rugs made in Persia. The copy of your rug book and the appraisal arrived also.

Smitty Hoegstett

Many thanks for the rugs. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.I'm sure we will be associated in the future.

Ernesto & Amanda

SILK ROAD COLLECTIONS

112 West San Francisco Street
Suite 110
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

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