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Old May 30th, 2016, 01:35 AM   #4
Patrick Weiler
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 20

A similar damaging impact on Iranian nomadic and village weaving also happened back in the 1920's when nomads were being forcibly settled, in the oil boom era in Iran after the oil embargo of the early 70's ended - bringing nomads to the oil industry - and during the economic sanctions embargo of the 1990's as well as the recent economic embargo. Rug manufacturing in China, Pakistan and India took up most of the slack/demand as Iranian weavers could only produce enough rugs for internal consumption and countries not part of the embargoes. The concern in the article, though, is not about formal, "city" rugs, but the "tribal" rugs made with "natural" dyes, a kind of artisan product rather than the more commercial, commodity, factory handmade rugs that are the majority of the handmade rugs on the market. These so-called tribal rugs are mostly what is known as a cottage industry, with weavers mainly being provided the dyed wool to weave at home or workshops to specifications provided by the atelier. These include the Gabbeh Iranian rugs, Nepalese rugs woven by Tibetan refugees, Turkish village rugs and Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Very few rugs are woven by actual nomads for internal use, because for their floor they buy the cheapest substitute - not to mention that nomadic life is much restricted today. For personal use, these Iranian nomads mostly made flatweave kilims to cover their belongings in the back of the tent and on the floor, with some making a pile rug for formal occasions. This is pictured in many photos of 40-50 years ago and longer. Here is a Qashqai tent with flatweaves at the back and a felt rug on the ground.

The cost of making "tribal rugs" is much higher than Chinese, Pakistani, Nepal etc rugs. The wages they can make are higher for other work, so it is not worth their time to make rugs any more.
Which leaves us collectors with older rugs, many of which were also factory or cottage made. Most collectors don't even buy the new "tribal" rugs. They are more interior decorator pieces. On a bus tour of Turkey during the Istanbul ICOC one of our group bought a brand new "Caucasian" carpet that was scheduled to undergo their artificial aging process.
The recession and the internet upended the traditional marketplace for antique rugs and the high prices of yesteryear crashed - except for exceptional pieces which only the well-heeled can afford.
Patrick Weiler
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