Mohamed Sassila Biography

Oriental Rugs: A Lifetime Of Passion

Mohamed Sassila standing in front of a large Caucasian Rug in Silk Road Collections

Tree of Life

My personal relationship with antique, natural dyed Persian and Turkish rugs began when I was 5 years old. I grew up in Northern Syria. It had one of the largest Armenian communities in the Middle East; and combined with the Kurdish weavers in the area; traditional rug weaving was everywhere. I saw the rug makers almost daily on every corner. I remember the process of my mother commissioning a rug for our home very well. We took weekly trips to check on the progress. I had the privilege of watching the rug making from beginning to end. It was fascinating.

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Mohamed Sassila standing in Silk Road Collection when he opened the shop in 1995

Tree of Life: 1990

I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the early 90's to obtain a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. During that time, I began working in Santa Fe and instantly liked it here. In 1991 I met a fellow Syrian and began working with him to sell Native American artifacts and Navajo rugs and in 1992 I opened my own shop.

When I decided to sell only Turkish and Persian Oriental Rugs, I moved to a larger space. In 1998, Silk Road Collections, Inc. offiicially opened in the Plaza Mercado at 112 West San Francisco Street (Suite 110).

Mohamed watching the process of cleaning newly made handwoven Oriental Rugs after they have been hand dyed and woven

Tree of Life: 1995

I know my rugs. I'm a Muslim and grew up in an Oriental Rug producing region. Most of the weavers are Muslim and the rugs are a form of Islamic Art. They are designed for meditation and bring peace to your home.

I travel extensively overseas to work with natural dyers, embroiderers and weavers. During an important trip to the border between Syria and Turkey in the 90's, I learned all about the technical aspects of weaving from the Kurdish people in that area; the design and weaving process, materials used, and natural dye techniques. We also discussed the history of oriental carpet design which is vital knowledge for anyone in the business.

Mohamed standing with renowned natural dyers during a trip to the Kish Carpet Festival in Iran in 2005

Tree of Life: 2005

A business trip to Iran in 2005 influenced my decision making process as an oriental rug buyer. I attended the Kish Carpet Festival where I met renowned natural dye artisan Zollanvari and Abbas-Sayahi, the master of vegetal dyeing in Iran. I placed a large order of both Gabbehs and Kilims. The dye used in the wool was provided by Abbas-Sayahi. The quality and color of these rugs were excellent.

Normally, I would never reveal something as basic as who dyed the wool in my rugs, however that that piece of information makes the rugs easier to sell. The rugs are also worth more in the long run.

See our Rug Buyers Guide and Silk Road Collections Media Center below for news, articles and video clips

Mohamed Sassila, owner of Silk Road Collections

Tree of Life: 2017

I am engaged in creating new initiatives, which combine both tradition and innovation. One project is producing flat-weave “Kilim” (a weave similar to traditional Navajo weave), using Navajo inspired designs and chemical dyes. The rugs are currently being made in Pakistan. I am also producing similar rugs utilizing the technical mastery of Turkmen weavers and the best organic, natural dyes.

Another initiative is producing 100% silk rugs with natural dyes, an exceptionally hard thing to do these days. The talent is not as readily available as it used to be. I am fortunate to have connections with exceptional natural dyers. This allows me to produce silk rugs in every size.

Mohamed Sassila has many stories about the art of Persian and Turkish Oriental Rug making.

Tree of Life: Stories

When people come to my shop, they are fascinated by the many stories about Antique Oriental Rugs that I love to share. My background and education in rug weaving has given me a deep knowledge of the history.See our Featured Turkish and Persian Oriental Rug section for some of my favorite stories.

Please read the Oriental Rugs and Carpets FAQs to learn more about the Art of Oriental Rug buying.

I highly recommend our interactive Rug Buyer’s Guide with photos and video clips to learn about the Oriental Rug making process.

Read Less

Silk Road Collections Media Center

Silk Road Route News, Articles & Video: Hand Made Oriental Rugs & Folk Art

The Silk Road Route is an ancient, international network of trade routes across the Asian continent that linked to the Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and Europe. Goods were exchanged and ideas were shared all along the route. Silk Road Collections continues that tradition by travelling to cities and villages along the Silk Road Route to bring home to you handmade oriental rugs and folk art hand crafted utlizing the tradtional methods that were handed down among families from generation to generation.

The Silk Road Collections Media Center shares with you written and visual stories about hand crafted ceramics and lacquered boxes from Rishtan, silk embroidered textiles from Bukhara, luxurious silk pillows from Pakistan, hand painted chandeliers created by Ulla Darni and natural dyed, hand woven oriental rugs.

INTERVIEWS

Interview With Mohamed Sassila

I love going to work every day. I’m surrounded by the rugs which are a timeless art form and it’s very relaxing. There is so much history behind the rugs I choose to sell. I love knowing that someone has taken months or years to weave a piece. I believe that the energy from that activity stays with the finished product. That is what invigorates the store; energy from the craftsmanship.

See Oriental Rugs and Carpets FAQs for full interview.

ARTICLES

More Than Just A Rug

Mohamed Sassila, owner of Silk Road Collections, grew up in northern Syria, which used to be the home of one of the largest population of weavers in the world. “Since I opened my eyes for the first time, I’ve seen rugs. It’s a part of my culture,” he says.

Download More Than Just A Rug (PDF)

For more in depth information on the process of Oriental Rug design, construction and what to look for when buying a genuine, new or antique Persian, Turkish, Turkmen or Caucasian rug, please see Story of Rugs: Rug Buyers Guide and Interview with Mohamed Sassila for more details.

 

Kish Carpet Festival

Kish is not just about selling. It is social and a great time to make and renew contacts. Really, sales count a great deal. Mohamed Sassila decided to come to Kish from the United States because he wanted to make contacts and see rugs that he does not see in the states . . .

Download Kish Carpet Festival 2005 (PDF)

VIDEO

Natural Dye Making, Hand Knotted Carpet Weaving & Silk Embroidery In Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Located on the Silk Road Route, the city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Upon receiving support from UNESCO, Mr. Fatullo Kendjaev, master carpet weaver and natural dyer brings back the folk and traditional arts reflective of the cultural life of his community by opening the school of Carpet Weaving, Embroidery and Natural Dyeing which he still heads.

Feruza Khamraeva, Fatullo's wife, not only is a master carpet weaver, she also leads a team of artisans who produce fabulous silk embroidered wall hangings, bed and table covers, jackets, and other items. Fatullo's daughter Zarina Kendjaeva, learned embroidery from her mother. Zarina’s suzani were awarded the UNESCO Seal of Excellence in 2004.  A year later, she competed against 700 women in Bukhara under age 25 to receive the top Zulfinya Award, a state medal for her achievements in handcrafts.

Over the years, Sassila has learned much from the Kendjaev family and carries their work at his store, Silk Road Collections. Please see Silk Road Collections Accessories

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

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