How strict should you be about defects when choosing a carpet?
After all, Persian carpets are hand-made, and it is normal to assume that there could be variations in wool, colour, and straightness. These little inconsistencies also add to the charm of the carpet. At least that is what every dealer tells you when you point out a defect on a rug you are considering.
No matter what, avoid carpets with holes, and those with frayed edges and fringes, or colour runs. Pay particular attention to the area where the fringes meet the carpet, and ensure that the pile is properly secured. Any dealer will have access to professional restoration specialists, so only buy the carpet once it has been repaired to an acceptable level.
For other defects, here are some general guidelines to consider:
- How old is the carpet?
The older the rug, the more lenient you can be when it comes to small defects. Semi-antique and antique carpets can show some signs of wear, such as low pile and spots of repair. They may not be completely straight, as wear patterns may have caused the foundation to stretch or buckle slightly.
- What type of carpet is it?
Tribal and village rugs are generally more whimsical in nature, and little inconsistencies or some level of crookedness can be forgiven. Workshop carpets, however, such as pieces made in Tabriz, Qum, Nain or Isfahan, go through a much stricter quality control process, and should not exhibit any defects.
- How expensive is the carpet?
If you are buying a piece of pottery at the local flea-market, you are willing to oversee a few scratches. However, if you buy a nice Gucci handbag, everything better be perfect. Both products are handmade, but the expectation is that at a certain price point, the piece should be near-perfect.
The same theory can be applied to carpets. A small village or tribal carpet is not very expensive, and the weaver is often left to their own devices. Hence, you have a great chance of finding inconsistencies in these types of rugs.
Expensive workshop carpets have dye experts, wool specialists, professional artistic designers, expert masterweavers and shearers. All of these people add to the cost of the carpet, but also enable the production of very fine pieces of art. These types of carpets therefore should be free of defects.
The statement that all handmade carpets have defects is simply untrue. It is especially sad to see clients come in with fine workshop carpets they have bought elsewhere that are 5" wider at one end than at the other, or that have wavy edges.
The fact is that straight carpets can be found if the dealer tries hard enough. Certain workshops are more reliable than others, so knowing where to look is key. We are especially picky about straightness, and will not buy any rugs that are not straight, wavy or buckled. This means that we may have to sort through 5 or 6 times as many carpets, but the effort is well worth it. When you spend a significant amount of money on a carpet, why settle for anything less than perfect?