Posted by Richard Farber on 01-01-2005 05:13 PM:



to put things in a delicate perspective -- there are people dealing with carpets and textiles who do not view the dating of weavings as something of scientific interest but rather as a way to further their commercial interests. counterfeiting of carpets and textiles seems to have been going on for over a century. the only reason to suppose that counterfeiting did not at some point exist is to imagine that there was a tine when there was no demand for it, -- new carpets more value than old, or that it was cheaper to find the objects in situ than to create them anew.

for example, i have recently seen silk velvets that have been newly made and sold as antiques. i recognized them as new production but know at least one person who bought such a textile thinking it was an antique. this of course has directly influenced the marketing of silk velvets in the auction houses. [so now is a good time to put together a collection if you trust your eye ;>} .]

Burton Y. Berry in OUT OF THE PAST, THE INSTANBUL GRAND BAZAAR talks about extensive reweaving of carpets in chapter three, I believe. and does discuss some commercial aspects of the carpet business.

The point that I am trying to arrive at is that we can all do our best to date a textile, or say where it is from and even achieve a modicum of reason in doing so as long as the object was not made by counterfeiters or subjected to their ageing techniques. in these cases the chance of making an error is much greater than in the case for objects that were made by people creating the pieces for themselves or even for sale but not by professional counterfeiters.


richard farber

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 01-04-2005 05:38 PM:

Point taken, Richard.

This brings up an issue that arises from time to time - so far without resolution to my satisfaction.

What is the responsibility of rug conference organizers to assure visitors to its "dealers' row" that the rugs offered are not counterfeits?

Should "vetting" be mandatory? If so, by whom? And to what standards?

If the rest of the time dealers operate on a "caveat emptor" basis, should it be different when they are showing their goods at a rug conference?

Is it different if the general public is invited in than if the dealers' row is open only to rug conference registrants?

Any answers to my conundrum, folks?



Posted by Vincent Keers on 01-04-2005 11:06 PM:

Hi Jerry,

"What is the responsibility of rug conference organizers to assure visitors to its "dealers' row" that the rugs offered are not counterfeits?"

None. Because they can't know and if they do, the dealers bring in the money.
I once wrote a letter in Hali:
"Dear sir,
Bla, bla, bla, bla.
A dealer shows an itsy, pitsy, tiny, miny Heriz. The label says antique.
The date shows 1358 (or something like that, I can't remember and I don't want to look in the Hali's because I'm lazy) when I asked the dealer why the rug was upside down and why the label? His answer was: "If the five is a zero, it's almost antique?" The size was 50x35 centimeters and the prize was a figure with a lot of 000000
Hali printed the letter. No comment.
Think the dealer advertised a lot.

Oh, how naive can one be!
Think all those Hali's, with my letter in should be burned!

Best regards,

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-05-2005 06:32 PM:

Dear folks -

I've been in some discussions about vetting at rug conferences. One I was involved in didn't simply because of the difficulties it involved.

Most conference still do not permit sale of contemporary pieces in their dealer fairs, although there is undoubtedly some such that is worthy of notice. Contemporary production is usually more reliably detected, although some if it now could fool lots of folks.

Richard's word "counterfeit" triggered for me thoughts about some of the discussions I've read and heard about when a rug or textile should be seen as a "copy" and when it likely should not. This is complicated by the fact that weavers have likely for a long time been exposed to work not in their "tradition" and find some of it interesting enough to incorporate in their own.

It's difficult to say where lines should be drawn. For example are some of the Kurdish rugs in the recent James Burns collection that are clearly inspired by more citified Persian designs "copies?" Sometimes for me they seem aesthetically superior to the designs from which they are allegedly taken.

More, is it necessary that a weaving be made by someone who is a member of the weaving tradition from which it is drawn in order to avoid the claim (even if it seems identical to others) that it is a "copy?" A few years ago a speaker at the TM made that precise argument: that the word "copy" is applied correctly to someone weaving outside the tradition, that the Tekke daughter following her mother's directions and designs (even exactly) is not "copying." But a Kurd in Khorrussan, who uses Tekke designs, even if they are produced exactly like their source weavings (not usually likely), is unavoidably "copying."

I personally think that not only is such a distinction difficult at bottom to apply accurately, it has the undesirable effect of diverting attention from the question of whether a given piece is attractive into the more anthropological question of whether it was produced within a given weaving tradition.

This is not to criticize those who collect in precisely these terms, but rather to suggest softly that we sometimes seem to encumber the actual enjoyments available in collecting by setting up and arguing for the close compliance with distinctions that seem unnecessary.

If something that is attractive within a tradition, is copied successfully enough by someone not a member of it, that experienced collectors have to strain to discern that it is a copy, I think there may be less point than energy in the straining. Why not acknowledge a good piece of work?

Of course, I know one answer to my question. Money. If one can maintain that an item was woven within a given tradition that frequently is a basis for charging more for it.

Odd stuff, our search for the "authentic."


R. John Howe

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 01-05-2005 07:03 PM:

True enough, John, but I'm after something more insidious here.

As you are no doubt aware, there is a thriving industry producing "antique" rugs created with the precise goal of deception. There's a long tradition dating back to at least Tuduc. But now there seem to be more and more of these pieces showing up - sometimes in the inventories of otherwise reputable dealers who are legitimately fooled...and sometimes in the inventories of dealers who buy them cheap and sell them dear as willing participants in the deception.

This is the stuff I'm wondering about.

Should there be an effort made - a vetting - to eliminate these pieces from dealers' rows at rug conferences?

Or should "people pay their money and make their choice"?

As you might expect, this is a topic of interest not only for prospective buyers but for the sellers, too. For some it's damn near a crusade.

These aren't three-figure-mistakes. The best of the counterfeits are well into the four-figure range where a mistake can result in much more than a bad case of buyer's remorse.

Any other thoughts, folks?


Posted by Steve Price on 01-05-2005 07:27 PM:

Hi Jerry

It seems to me that vetting individual pieces in a Dealer Fair would be terribly difficult, probably impossible to do well. Just vetting the dealers on the basis of their reputations would be difficult enough.

In the final analysis, attributions are educated guesses. One consequence of this simple fact is that reasonable, well informed people can have honest disagreements about any rug's origin (time and/or place). Right this minute, one self-annointed expert is busily ranting about a rug sold to a leading museum. The museum curator and at least three highly respected figures in the rug world attribute it to the 17th century; their antagonist insists that it does not predate the 18th century. The criteria he uses look to me to be ad hoc, based on little or no hard evidence. The important question is, who's right? If I were a betting man, I'd bet on the threesome. But I also believe that a definitive conclusion is beyond anyone's reach.

Any dealer who flagrantly misrepresented his goods at, say, ICOC or ACOR, would risk tremendous damage to his own reputation. This is probably enough to minimize the problem without trying to vet individual pieces.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 01-06-2005 05:06 AM:

Copies & Counterfeits

Hi John,

As I see it, a copy is just a copy.

A copy treated for looking old and sold as an antique is a counterfeit.

A Kurdish rug “clearly inspired by more citified Persian designs” is not a copy but a re-interpretation…
Just, say, like a Bob Marley’s reggae re-interpretation of a Frank Sinatra’s song. Which, in any case, Sinatra did not write, but only interpreted.



Posted by Horst Nitz on 01-18-2005 03:21 PM:

Hallo all

On day two of a conference last October I sneaked off, strolled around the town and guided by a copy of Hali which I had bought at the airport eventually called at a rug shop. I am not one for antique silk Heriz rugs, but the 18th century shield Kazak with its emerald green field was impressive. This sort of shop. Then, from within a staple of rugs something glimpsed at me that seemed familiar. I had to take a deep breath when we unfolded what was the pendant to my 19th century Yomut cicim now waiting for restoration after I had spend so much time on it a few months ago, getting rid of its stains and afterwards carefully bleaching out the scorch marks from the once hot black motor oil. This one here however was in mint condition, perfect kelim ends, a couple of small vaseline stains in a convenient position backing up its claim to have seen more in its life than loom and gallery room. This is what the label said: Yomut, Turkoman (old) € 6.200 crossed out, new price € 1.250. This cicim felt like new, it smelled like new. It was the firm reference to the representation in my mind of the other one of which I know every square inch that prompted me to see this one as what it is: a fake:

This is the humble, honest one:

When DOBAG in 1982 presented its first rugs I thought a wonderful thing was happening to rugs, their weavers, to the world. Now I sometimes think, also Pandora’s box had been opened then, as a before unknown array of illegitimate old and antique rugs seem to be penetrating the market. They don’t enter through the front door. They infiltrate, use osmosis and capillary action, disguise behind their natural dyes. Until recently it seemed relatively straightforward in most cases to distinguish the old or antique rugs on basis of their natural/synthetic dyes. But counterfeits that come along in natural dyes give the whole think a new quality. Differential analysis of design and reference to kpsi may be no help. The average monthly income in some Caucasus republics is US $ 100 and it takes a weaver 2 –3 months to manufacture a complete high quality mafrash with naturally dyed wool that finds a collector for $ 1.400. Skill, wool, dyes and time make a good weave. All is to be had in Iran and carried to the Caucasus, where time is even cheaper. To Iran itself: from the 1990’ies on quite a lot of experimenting with natural dyes has been going on, starting from Fars. Now all over the country rugs are being produced in natural dyes, not only Gabbehs. To my information this was encouraged by the government, as it was becoming a problem that wool had to be imported for the mass production of Gabbehs that need twice as much wool as rugs of other provenance. Now it seems that those alternatives are entering the marked as old and antique in mint condition i.e. without wear except for a calculated tiny little bid around the selvedge or some spots of convenience.

Has anybody else met those?



Posted by Steve Price on 01-18-2005 03:57 PM:

Hi Horst

I'm convinced that the one you call a fake is recent, but I'm not sure it was intended to deceive anyone. Unless I'm mistaken, the little motifs on the outermost sections of the kilim ends are pretty typical of Soviet era Turkmen rugs.

The dealer's label that tried to make it look like the price had been reduced by about 80% is clearly an attempt to deceive, but that kind of deception is not so unusual among some rug merchants.


Steve Price

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 01-18-2005 05:14 PM:

Dear Horst,

Back in 1981 a rug dealer-client of mine was importing a great number of pieces from Afghanistan. He had a pile of these Yomud flatweaves that measured about five feet high - laid out flat one atop the next. Must have been more than 100. At the time he was asking $1000, you pick the one you want. Some were old, but most were brand new and were almost indistinguishable from the old ones except for the wear.

Apparently, these textiles have been woven for a long time and as of 1981, at least, were still being woven.



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 01-19-2005 05:30 AM:

Hi Horst,

At The Hajj flea market here I saw a lot of that Yomut stuff, new or not so old, a few with good colors but very often with harsh orange or with faded (I guess synthetic) dyes… like the one in the background here:

They are not fakes, just recent production. Only thing, you could have them for $300 or less here



Posted by Horst Nitz on 01-19-2005 03:37 PM:

Hi Steve, Jerry and all

You are right as right can be. I had a look at my +/- 1950 cold war Tekke-Buchara. It shows those motives on the kelim ends.

That caravan that missed the right turn and eventually had to unload its Yomut cicims in Afghanistan reminds me of the proverbial carrying “owls to Athens” or “Samowars to Tula”. Either in 1981 there was a smuggling route that went that way or, others who were commissioned to copy the Yomut design wove those cicims. Can’t think of an alternative that makes sense to me.

Be that as it may be. I am not so much concerned with that particular fake cicim that, besides the age issue after all offers value for money. I am worried we might be entering an age with naturally dyed and artificially aged rugs that are becoming indistinguishable from the real ones unless, we take our field gas chromatographs and analyse invisible traces of pesticides in the cotton bits - the “educated eyeball test” at this stage is in danger of becoming obsolete.



Posted by Tim Adam on 01-20-2005 04:28 AM:


You wrote "As you are no doubt aware, there is a thriving industry producing "antique" rugs created with the precise goal of deception." I have never (I think) seen a good 'fake', but would be really interested to find out what is being faked nowadays, and what is still off limits to the fakers.

For example, I bought a Yomud chuval off eBay some time ago, which I think is a fake. It was advertised as late 19th century, but I think it is brand new. I'd be happy to post it here if people are interested.

However, I have not seen pieces that could be mistaken for mid or early 19th century. To copy those, is maybe still too difficult?

Do you, or anyone else, have any examples of 'fakes' that you could share with the rest of us?


Posted by Jerry Silverman on 01-20-2005 05:17 AM:

Dear Tim,

The issue of modern-day counterfeits has been discussed elsewhere on Turkotek. (Just where, I'm not certain; but it has been a topic that has appeared more than once in various contexts.)

Here is an authentic late 19th century Anatolian yastik.

And here is a modern fake made with old materials in an attempt to deceive.

These were displayed side by side in the "Rugs of Rare Beauty from Midwest Collections" at ACOR6 in Indianapolis (April 25-28-2002).



Posted by Tim Adam on 02-01-2005 04:07 AM:


Steve, Jerry and all,

The vetting process at TEFAF is second to none. Nineteen vetting committees, comprising 130 international experts in every field of art represented at the fair, verify each and every object for quality, authenticity and condition, so visitors can buy with confidence.

The above quote is from a recent broschure about the upcoming European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht.

I'd imagine that testing rugs for authenticity is just as difficult as testing other works of art for the same. If this is the case, then I see only two reasons why dealers or fair organizers would resist a vetting process. Either there are so few fakes around that it is really not worth the trouble, or there are so many fakes around that nobody is interested in revealing the truth.


Posted by Steve Price on 02-01-2005 07:05 AM:

Hi Tim

I doubt that fake antique rugs are abundant at the ICOC or ACOR dealer fairs.

I don't understand how TEFAF manages to have every piece at their fair examined and certified by independent experts, and would be interested in knowing the mechanics of the process. Is it all done on site, or do the experts visit the dealers and examine the pieces before they are brought to the fair? Do they have some process to make sure that only certified pieces enter the building with the dealer when he sets up? Do they require the dealers to arrive several days in advance in order to provide time for their pieces to be examined and certified? How much do they pay their 130 experts to perform this chore, and what is the source of those monies?

The nuts and bolts of vetting ten thousand textiles being brought in by around 100 dealers seems like a nearly insurmountable problem, but perhaps the TEFAF people know some shortcuts that haven't occurred to me. And, of course, if the integrity of the experts isn't of the highest order, the certification could be about as meaningful as feedback on eBay.


Steve Price

Posted by Steve Price on 02-01-2005 03:14 PM:

Hi All

I did a little snooping on line about TEFAF, and I think I understand how they are able to afford the vetting.

There are about 200 dealers, two to three times the numbers at ICOC or ACOR. But the number of visitors to the fair was over 75,000 last year (about 150 times that at ACOR or ICOC), and the event lasts for 11 days (ACOR and ICOC run for 4 or 5 days). TEFAF is obviously a very much larger and more extensive operation than ICOC or ACOR, with more time and more money with which to work.


Steve Price

Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-01-2005 05:19 PM:

Vetting for fakes

Dear all,

I don't mean to underplay the problem of fakes in the marketplace, but I do not think that they constitute a real problem in the context of rug conferences, especially in view of the difficulties in providing a remedy.

The logistics for full vetting at a rug conference are daunting. At ICOC-X here in Washington, we considered vetting the Carpet Fair, but we just couldn’t overcome the many logistical obstacles that arose. First, the dealers were admitted to their booths at 8 a.m. on Thursday so that they could unpack their bales, set up their booths and install their inventories. The Carpet Fair opened at 5:00 that evening. When and where during that chaotic period the vetting could have been done is beyond me.

The ballrooms where the dealers’ fairs are held are expensive and difficult to hire beyond certain time frames. We simply could not get access to our Carpet Fair ballroom earlier than we did, requiring our installer to work all night to complete the booths in time for the dealers to have access at 8:00 a.m.

Now consider the time and effort required. If there are 60 booths in a carpet fair, each having an average of 40 pieces, there would be 2,400 items to be vetted. At an average of only one minute per piece, that’s 40 man-hours of review. But one minute is barely enough time to unroll a rug, read the label and take a cursory glance at the rug.

These conferences are put on only because of tremendous volunteer effort. Many of the volunteers are not even rug collectors. Where would we find 5 qualified people to work for 8 hours straight to vet the rugs? Apparently a few other antique fairs are able to do it, somehow, but I don’t know how.

I can’t conceive how the vetting could be done in advance.

Further, is the aim of the vetting only to protect the buying public from the contemporary “fakes” of early and/or important rugs? Sometimes the deception can be very difficult to find. Experienced restorers may, as a general rule, have the best eyes for spotting these fakes. Dealers could also do it, but most of the best of them would also be exhibiting.

Other issues that could be considered by a vetting committee include relative age. Who will determine whether a particular rug is 16th Century or 17th? Or who will say whether that rug is Persian or Indian? The most one could expect, I think, is that a reasonable argument could be made for the correctness of the label created by the vendor.

While age is important to many collectors, it is only one factor among many for the desirability and fair pricing of the item to the public at large. What about extensive restoration, size reduction, replacement of knots having offensive dyes, painting or false provenance or provenience? And price? And so on?

At ICOC-X, we required the dealers to agree to display only antique rugs with a price label reasonably accurately indicating the age of the item and the presence of significant restoration. We made efforts to attract and admit only reliable dealers, but it is impossible to expect perfection. I did not hear any complaints of deception.

ACOR does not vet its Dealers’ Fair either and I think it might be even more difficult for them to do it that it would be for ICOC does.

Conference shouldn’t merely plead “caveat emptor” but, as the person primarily responsible for the organization of the conference, I don’t think we could have reasonably done any more than we did to protect the patrons of the Carpet Fair. The buyers must inform themselves.

Most antique fairs are not vetted. The Winter Antiques Show in NY is perhaps the best known vetted fair in the US, where the work is done by various committees (some of whom are dealers) who swarm into the booths to inspect the merchandise. According to friends in the business, they are primarily concerned with condition and quality, restoration and fairness of representation. This also is a huge event and the dealers are there for at least a day before the event begins.

Everything at and about the Winter Antiques Show is priced well above the pricing at any of the rug conferences. And the procedures are extraordinary in their field.


Posted by Tim Adam on 02-01-2005 09:28 PM:

Hi everybody,

Jerry mentioned earlier in this thread that there is a thriving industry producing "antique" rugs. This makes it sound like there are quite a few fakes around. If not at trade fairs, where else are these pieces sold? At auctions?


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-01-2005 10:40 PM:

Time Machine

Hi To All,

I have seen some fake carpets in the past, one of them was a 8x10 ft. pinweel kazak carpet, the bordur of the rug was original but the center was all repiled to pinweel design with old metarial,
It was a profesinaly Fake.

Most time this kind of carpets foundations old, piles are from old kilim yarns or old kilim yarns with new dyes, some time they add elements on the rug to make it more attriactive, they change colors, design, dimensions. they leave low areas, holes, dirt, Ect.

They still pruduce this kind of carpets and working on them to seems like old but a fake is always a fake.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Steve Price on 02-01-2005 10:57 PM:

Hi Tim

The products of the "thriving industry" in making fake antique rugs is still a very small percentage of the rugs that are around. The pool of buyers at ACOR and ICOC is fairly small (about 500 attendees) and, for the most part, pretty sophisticated and highly interactive. I think it would be a terrible mistake for a dealer to bring fakes there because it would do so much damage to his reputation. There are probably no more than a few thousand serious collectors of antique rugs, and word travels fast within the community.

Many fakes can be seen on eBay (still a small percentage of the total, of course). I don't think we can go beyond that on Turkotek without identifying the sellers. If we did, we'd have to let them defend themselves, and we don't discuss or debate the integrity of dealers on this site.

The situation in the world of rugs with regard to fakes is nothing even remotely approaching that in African tribal art, where at least 95% of what's on the market is fake.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 02-02-2005 08:43 AM:


It appears that you have admitted that you know that fakes exist on ebay, and you have implied that you know who some of the sellers are.

Don't you think that you have a moral obligation to inform people of what is clearly a criminal act?

While I realise Turkotek may not be the correct forum for this, I find it concerning that so many rug experts and people 'in the know' repeatedly sidestep questions regarding who is selling these fakes.

Richard Tomlinson

Posted by Steve Price on 02-02-2005 09:58 AM:

Hi Richard

To be accurate, I would say that I believe I know the names of some eBay vendors who deal in fakes. I've seen some of the pieces that they represented to be antique, and I've had conversations with folks with considerable expertise who tell me that they have seen similar things.

Do I have a moral obligation to reveal the identities of those vendors in a public venue? I think, in the absence of evidence that would hold up in court (as opposed to opinion or hearsay), I have no such obligation. Indeed, I could be subject to legal action if I made public accusations of criminal behavior without solid evidence that I could present to a jury.

Another issue that you raise is this: even if I have that moral obligation, must I exercise it on this venue? I don't think so. The header on this page spells out Turkotek's policy on such things as follows: We do not permit ... comments bearing on ... the reputation of any seller. Our belief ("us" being the Turkotek management group) is that abandoning that policy will inevitably lead to this site becoming yet another web venue for exchanges of accusations and promotions between and among hustlers. We decided not to allow that to happen when we took over from Tom Stacy about 6 years ago, and have never regretted the decision.

There are others who have appointed themselves to be the Internet Rug Police, one of whom is currently insisting that a rug that was represented as probably dating to around 1700 is really at least 100 years younger. He has accused the seller of fraud, and unless he can prove the unprovable - that he is right - he is at substantial risk if the seller decides to pursue the matter in court. In the USA, if you accuse somebody of criminal behavior, especially if that accusation impairs his pursuit of his livelihood, you'd better be able to prove it unless you're willing to bet that the guy you accused will just ignore you.


Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-03-2005 02:26 AM:

How Many?


You said:

"There are probably no more than a few thousand serious collectors of antique rugs"

Granted, there is a certain fudge factor in this statement. However, this seems like a rather small number, considering the billions of people on the planet.

Perhaps you mean there are only a few thousand serious collectors of "collectible tribal rugs" or some such sub-set of antique rug collectors. Or only those who attend the auctions in New York, London and Paris.
Is a collector anyone who has more than one antique rug because they are enamored of them, or would you qualify a serious collector as someone owning a certain number of antique rugs? Or someone who is always looking to buy an antique rug?
20 collectors in each of our 50 US states would equal 1,000 collectors. There are probably many more than that in some states, such as California, New York, Illinois, Massachusets and North Dakota. (Well, maybe not North Dakota)
I suspect that an equal number of collectors live in the UK, Italy, Germany, Russia and several more countries.
Do we add those collectors in Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus and other rug weaving countries who may have a collection but do not consider themselves collectors?
How about subscribers to Hali? How many of them are there? Should we only count members of rug clubs? Do all collectors belong to rug clubs?
What does "serious" mean?
Inquiring minds want to know! Especially if we expect our insurance company to pay us the big bucks when our house burns down!!!

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Steve Price on 02-03-2005 07:09 AM:

Hi Pat

My estimate of a few thousand is based on several pieces of information.
1. When Oriental Rug Review went under (in 1996, if I'm having one of my rare lucid moments), I had been told that it had a circulation of 1200. It was, at the time, one of only two periodicals devoted to what we might call "collectible rugs", a loosely defined term. I was writing for them until their untimely demise, and my impression when I went to things like ICOC and ACOR was that every collector subscribed to ORR.
2. The number of attendees at ACOR and ICOC is routinely below 500 and wouldn't go beyond, perhaps, 800 even if there were not limits on attendance.

I think I use the term "collectors" as people who are sufficiently interested in oriental rugs and textiles to do at least 3 or 4 of the following things:
1. They attend ACOR, ICOC or other such conventions when they can. The total number of living people who have ever done so is probably no more than 2,000.
2. They subscribe to HALI. I don't know HALI's circulation, but I'm guessing that it's a few thousand.
3. They belong to one or more associations that call themselves rug collector clubs. Organizations like New York or Washington's Hajji Baba Club, Kansas City Oriental Rug and Textile Ass'n, etc. The total membership could probably be gotten from ACOR, but again, my guess is not more than a few thousand active members.
4. They look in on websites that contain information on antique oriental rugs. Using Turkotek as an example, we have about 380 registered members, so I'd guess there are around 1,500 people who look in on us more or less regularly.
5. They call themselves rug collectors.
6. They care enough and know enough about oriental rugs to spend amounts of money that are significant to them on the purchase of rugs and textiles.
7. They have bookshelves devoted to books about the subject.
8. They visit museums that have collections or exhibitions of oriental rugs and textiles when they travel. Likewise for visiting dealers.

None of these is very precise, but I'll bet everyone who reads this page recognizes himself/herself.


Steve Price

Posted by Louis Dubreuil on 02-03-2005 01:25 PM:

"la main dans le sac" i.e. caught red-handed

Few weeks ago I were in Paris to see some exhibitions and some rug shops. There is a rug dealer who is specialised in ancient (turkmen and other) pieces. His little shop was not lighted and I thought there was nobody here. So I put my eyes close to the window to see the displayed pieces.
Then I saw the man kneeled down on a kilim with a marker in his hand. He was faking the weaving, putting little dots of ink on worn or discoloured areas ! I was really shocked and I did'nt enter the shop.
Before that I believed that he was a serious rug dealer : good pieces, high prices....I suppose unhappily this practice is quite current. If he had felt guilty to make a very big "rug sin" I suppose he would take the precaution to do that in a hidden place, not in his shop.

Amicales salutations à tous

louis Dubreuil

Posted by Steve Price on 02-03-2005 02:01 PM:

Hi Louis

I believe you saw somebody doing what is called painting a rug. It can involve coloring exposed parts of the foundation or coloring areas of pile that have faded. Strictly speaking, it isn't painting; the surface isn't covered with a layer of anything opaque. The colors that are applied actually dye the fibers - that is, the colors penetrate them.

This isn't what most people have in mind when they refer to a rug as a fake. It's really a repair, although an ethical seller will point it out to buyers just as he would point out any other repair. The usual implication of the word "fake" is that the rug is a modern weaving made to look like an antique and likely to be represented as antique when it is sold.


Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-04-2005 01:01 AM:



There are about 175 "Commercial" links on the Turkotek home page. I do not think that this includes all of the vendors to the collector community. There are four places in Seattle to visit if you are looking for an antique rug, and none of them are on the link list.
If there are only 300 antique rug dealers in the whole world, that would be approximately one store per 10 collectors. Not very good odds for the dealers. And if there are more dealers, that means even fewer customers per store. I would certainly not open a business with this small of a market.
I expect that there is a "dark matter" of antique rug collectors that are not being counted, similar to the dark matter in the universe that accounts for more than half of the matter that must theoretically exist, but scientists cannot find it or see it.
Perhaps there is a group of nascent collectors, under the radar, Dark Collectors.
And there surely must be a few collectors with warehouses full of rugs, or there would not be so many old rugs sold each year. Unless there is a very limited supply of old rugs that we are all selling back and forth to each other.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Farber on 02-04-2005 01:19 AM:

dear steve

i dont think that using markers to color the foundation of a carpet with bald areas should be considered a repair. reknotting the bald areas is a repair coloring the foundation is not.

by the way, the more 'ethical' of the pointilistic-school of carpet painters use ink which is more permanet . . . it is the more 'modern' generation of flea market personae which use markers, at least in this art of the world.

what about painting in lost embroidery ? ---- i've seen that also


richard farber

as to the number of collectors . . .

people with money often buy an excellent [or not so outstanding] antique
carpet at the behest of an architect or decorator or even a carpet dealer. these people are not collectors but do buy antiques to furnish their homes or offices.

Posted by Bob Kent on 02-04-2005 06:25 AM:

# of rugs sold, and how they are sold w/ dates

I accept the ideas that there aren't that many rug collectors, and a lot of carpets are still sold (in one time purchases, the trade etc - if you put "carpet" in's sold lot archive they alone have sold 20,000 presumably old rugs since 1998). But look at how rugs are sold, and I am not talking about counterfeits, fakes, etc., ... Age is presented as a matter of course (sothebys, cloudband, dealers). And how solid is this age info? The rug literature seems to have a lot of books and articles that start by stating that "these things aren't signed or dated, they generally weren't collected by museums, etc., so we don't have the most solid basis for assigning dates to them." But a few pages or chapters later, the reader starts getting rather specific rules of thumb on dating - the designs degenerated; the old ones have more space, more knots, these colors, narrow borders, whatever... Given the tendency to say that with few exceptions the older ones are better aesthetically, I get the feeling that many of these rules of thumb are sort of "a little knowledge is dangerous" stuff when it comes to the dates given in selling rugs. Sometimes, the aesthetically prefered feature may even be a property of later rugs, or the "older" batch with the prefered feature might have been made at the same time in a different way?

Posted by Steve Price on 02-04-2005 07:32 AM:

Hi Patrick

The dealers listed on our links pages don't deal with the collector market exclusively; many don't deal with it at all. Lots of people buy rugs for decorative purposes, and are not "serious collectors" in the sense in which I used the term above (I listed some criteria for inclusion in this group).

I doubt that there are anywhere near 300 dealers whose business relies entirely on selling "collectibles", and many people who are not "serious collectors" buy a "collectible" rug here and there. Even Sotheby's and Christie's sell much larger dollar volumes of decorator than of collectible rugs.

I own a small number of netsuke, but while someone might refer to them as my "collection", I do not consider myself to be a serious netsuke collector. I own a few books on the subject, but don't follow the goings on in the world of netsuke collectors, attend conferences on them, etc.

Funny you should mention the matter of a small number of old rugs that we sell back and forth within the community. A dealer whose name escapes me at the moment (no longer alive) is quoted as having said that being involved in the market in antique rugs, he expected to have seen every last specimen eventually. I'm sure he wasn't serious, but it is a point.


Steve Price

Posted by Steve Price on 02-05-2005 10:54 AM:

Hi People

A few days ago (in this thread), I wrote the following: There are others who have appointed themselves to be the Internet Rug Police, one of whom is currently insisting that a rug that was represented as probably dating to around 1700 is really at least 100 years younger.

I've been taken to task for this by the person to whom it refers, who points out that the rug was represented as dating to around 1600, not to around 1700. He's right, I got confused between "1700" and "17th century".

But the essence of the matter is as I stated it: the seller is accused of representing the rug as being at least 100 years younger than the Internet Rug Police's Inspector Clouseau (and judge, and jury) thinks it is. Whether the rug dates to 1600, 1700, or some later date is, in the final analysis, a judgement call. Strident insistence that he knows the unknowable does not constitute evidence that he's right.

My apologies to anyone who was led astray by my error.


Steve Price

Posted by Horst Nitz on 02-09-2005 08:44 AM:

Hi Folks,

“painting” a rug with marker dyes may not be the best term, as the method is not ideally suited for large areas. I know that even in top shops you can find rugs that have been “painted” a little. Restorers like the technique as it helps to even out colour differences, to achieve a more natural looking match of old and newly dyed yarns in the course of repairs.

In one of the first Hali volumes there was an article on light and water fast dying of old rugs as a restoration technique. For many it is quite acceptable. Perhaps it is a question of dosis: to much of an otherwise good remedy may kill.