How to Buy an Oriental Carpet?
The term “carpet” refers to any piece which exceeds six or seven feet in width and of greater length.
It may be said that a rug, stop to be a rug at an uncertain size and larger rugs becomes a carpet. But here carpets in the larger dimensions, ten by twelve feet or more, as usually understood, are only considered.
first and always, we must answer to certain measure requirements.
The buyer is wont to think that the suitability or beauty of a carpet is of secondary consideration if only it fit the room. Here is dissension. It is far better that the room should be made to fit or adapt itself to the perfect carpet.
If you would buy one, the best that you can do is to choose wisely. They are all of modern manufacturing, with very few exceptions.
If you have one that is antique, you yourself have made it so, or you have inherited an old and disregarded example of past years. The modern carpets, nevertheless, those made today, are many of them great pieces, far excellence any small rugs of the same weaving.
The Kirmanshahs would come first. closely woven, beautiful and soft in color, fine and artistic in their designs, they are the most perfect floor coverings for the salon, reception or music room. If they were only real! But very few of them are. They have all been treated with chemicals, and their beauty of color is just as artificial as any rouged and be powdered one’s. Unless you have one out of ten thousand, it has not come from a palace, but from a scientific laboratory.
Be aware that not one out of a thousand, or indeed ten thousand, of those on the market today is genuine. They are faked in every way. They are washed with chemicals to give them their soft colorings, they are made by wholesale and, in part by machinery, and they are no more an oriental carpet than is a roll of Brussels carpet or an admitted New Jersey product. Only an expert’s advice should be relied on in buying a Kirman, today, and even that should have a good endorser. The distinction between Kirmans and Kirmanshahs was founded in fact and was important. No other carpets except silk carpet, have proved such a profitable fraud to uninformed vendors, and have given a bad name to the dealers who try to be honest in their occupation.
Many of the Tabriz carpets lie under the same doubt and those claiming to be antiques, may be wisely questioned. But new ones come in clean, rich colorings, in fine designs, and are textile masterpieces.
The Kurdistan carpets are by far the best of all today. They are more loosely woven, but they are so much the heavier and that is favorable in a carpet. And they are honest. Their colors are beautiful, diverse, strong, and true. It is claimed for the Kurdistans that some of their dyes are still well-guarded secrets and it is true history of some years ago that many a bloody war and murder developed out of valued Kurdistan secrets of dyeing. Their designs are bold and striking, with grand center medallion and corners, and a field artistically decorated. Money cannot buy anything better than a fine new Kurdistan and thirty or forty years of wear should leave it better still.
Next to be chosen would be the Gorovans. They also show brave figuring with a strong center medallion, characteristic zigzag corners, and angular embellishment which are most gracefully performed. Their coloring is usually in fine blues and reds.
Modern Feraghans offered in large carpet sizes, and some antique ones are still to be had large sizes. But the Kurdistans and Gorovans much excel them in two important specifications. The Feraghans appear only in their own strange, small-figured designs, which are without strength or character on a large floor space. Besides that, being more closely cut than the others, if they do not soon wear out, they soon wear down, and begin to show the suspicion of their warp and their loss of tone and color. They are beautiful carpets, nevertheless, and will practically last a lifetime. But the heavier they are, the better.
There are few other modern Persian carpets in large sizes which offered in considerable numbers for classification. There is a rather indefinite order of Gulistans, under which title, many good unclassified carpets are sold.
There are also current Sultanabads, in very large sizes, well woven, on old models, to meet present uses.
Most other carpets are of Turkish weaving, whatever their names, and come under the general title of Smyrnas. Smyrna is the center of distribution for a great variety of cheap and coarsely woven carpets; but poor in quality as these may be, they should not be confused with the American machine product also known as a “Smyrna.” In the same class come the Oushaks, Hamadans, etc. There is nothing more to be said for them than to testify that they will wear better than a Brussels carpet, and give some preference to a modest dining-room.
Some of the rare old Bokharas come in lovely browns and are almost priceless in value. Unfortunately, it is possible for an American saboteur to discover a process of dipping or washing an ordinary carpet so as to imitate these rare originals, and many dealers shamelessly sell these fakes.
Pleasantly, the trickery is generally distinguishable because the “dip” or stain, whatever it may be, is suitable to run into the edge or otherwise reveal itself. The wise buyer will reject with scorn any carpet, under whatsoever name offered, which shows no other coloring than various shades of chocolate brown. No such uniform brown dyeing ever characterized any class of carpets. Even the brown Bokharas which are in museums show some other tints with their brown tones.
Good Bokharas, like good Kirmans, are certainly beautiful and of great value, but the mere fact that both are considered basics in the carpet trade tends to reduce from their artistic value; and that they are so generally doctored, concealed, and perverted puts them in bad repute.