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What you need to know about Persian carpets

Lending splendour to art museums around the globe and gracing the floors of  fine hotels from Cape to Cairo, and homes of grandeur from Buckingham Palace to the White House, Persian carpets impart an aura of dignity and luxury wherever they are placed.

 

Since their humble beginnings amongst the nomadic tribes of the Middle East, Persian carpets are associated with comfort, luxury and versatility as a floor covering. What you may not know is that Persian carpets are available to suit every pocket and, while considered a luxury item, Persian carpets are an investment, much like buying a piece of art.

While home decorating trends may come and go, Persian carpets remain a style that befits any home, offering diversity, a range of colours, size and texture. With the proper care and maintenance a Persian carpet should steadily increase in value and beauty and give decades, even generations, of service.

Persians carpets have, for a long time, been associated with prestige, glamour and a true sense of style. The intricate handicrafts are considered an essential part of gracious living, their ability to combine the functional with the ornamental.

Used throughout the world as decorative wall hangings, floor coverings, table cloths, seat or bench covers and even, more recently, to upholster furniture, he enormous variety of beautiful colours and designs, from rustic to formal, Tuscan to ultra modern, ensures that Persians surpass fashion trends and never date.

Advice on buying a Persian carpet
Know who you are buying from. "Because of a small handful of inexpert or less scrupulous players in the industry, it is vital to purchase authentic hand-made Oriental and Persian carpets from a reputable, well-established dealer," says Victor Lidchi, an international expert of Persian carpets who is also considered the doyen of the South African industry.

Insist on a certificate of authenticity and value. "As an investment, especially the higher grade examples, anyone who purchases a Persian carpet should insist on a certificate of guarantee, value and authenticity." This certificate should be retained for insurance purposes, and for if or when you want to resell, exchange or pass on your carpet.

How to ensure authenticity
"Many people who love Persian carpets feel the need to know more before venturing to buy and buyers need to be aware of the differences between hand-made carpets and machine manufactured ones. At a glance, they may look similar. After a short observation however, the differences are easy to spot." says Lidchi.

Handmade Persian and Oriental carpets
Oriental carpets, or those carpets from the many regions of the Orient, such as Turkey, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., are made in the same manner and basic traditions as those from Persia (or Iran as it is known today). Because they are handmade, genuine Persian and Oriental carpets and rugs have characteristically slightly uneven sides and ends, and do not run in a perfectly straight line.

• You will find a distinctive knot at the base of each tuft or stitch. The knot will only tighten when pulled. The fringe is a continuation of the foundation or weave, and not a separate addition to the carpet. The pile or nap lies very distinctly in one direction which accounts for the item looking darker or lighter depending on which side it is viewed from, and has a magical continuing subtle change in aspect.

Machine manufactured carpets
The sides and ends are machined perfectly straight. The base of each stitch is simply looped - not knotted - around the foundation, and a tuft or strand of wool can be removed when pulled on. The fringe is usually separate from the foundation, added afterwards. One can easily decipher the fringe as an addition to the rest of the carpet. Pile does not usually lie obviously in one direction but tends to be vertical .

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