Home Page Discussion

Salon du Tapis d'Orient

The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.

My First Time... by Jerry Silverman

Just three little words, but how many of us can say them without experiencing a flood of emotions? Surely you remember the feelings. Nervousness, maybe even anxiety. Apprehension tinged with anticipation. A little fear. A lot of lust. Would we wake in the
morning filled with regret? Or suffused with pride?

Once we were young, innocent, naive. Now we are longer of tooth, greyer of hair, dimmer of sight. So let us gather ‘round the warming glow of our communal campfire (okay, computer monitor) and tell tales of our First Time.

What could be more appropriate for my first Salon of the New Millennium than our recollections of our:

1) First Rug

2) First “Serious” Rug

3) First “eBay” Rug

C’mon, don’t be shy. Think of it as a benchmark denoting how far you’ve come (or not, as the case may be).

To encourage those of you too embarrassed to admit to your first rug, I’ll start. Few of you will have made worse/odder choices.

In 1980, after three years of dating, the woman who would become my wife and I decided to take the plunge and buy a place together. Eventually we found a condominium in a 1905 building on Chicago’s North Side. It was just perfect. There was plenty of space for her “stuff” and my “stuff.” There were also a couple thousand square feet of polished
hardwood floors. Between us we had exactly one 4’x6’ Couristan in a Kerman pattern. The sound of our footsteps echoing was cold and unpleasant. We decided we needed some rugs.

But we were busy and didn’t do any shopping until we spent a week in Washington, D.C., visiting friends. On an unusually warm day sometime between Christmas and New Year’s we took an innocent drive to Georgetown, had lunch, and pointed the car up Wisconsin Avenue. Completely unaware that this is an oriental rug store “row,” we were
surprised to see rug shop after rug shop. While we were considering pulling in to one of them to look around, we saw a store that was sporting a Going Out of Business sign. It was Yayla Turkish Rugs. (To this day I don’t know if it was a legitimate sale or one of those despicable GOBs, although we were waited on by a nice man who appeared to be the owner. So if it was a GOB, it was a very low-key variety.)

Jean and I were pretty much overwhelmed by what we saw. We knew absolutely nothing about Turkish rugs. Hell, we knew nothing about any kind of handmade rug. With no criteria of what might make a particular rug acceptable we settled on trying to find a rug for the entryway that would be a “happy,” “welcoming” rug. Something cheerful. If I had
known how strange that request was, I might have paid more attention to the dealer’s expression when I said it. But he took it in stride and started breaking down a big pile of 3’x 5’ rugs.

We knew it when we saw it! It was without a doubt the happiest, most cheerful and welcoming rug in the entire store. We were told it was a Yundag. No mention was made of its age, the quality of the dyes, the craftsmanship of the weaving, the fidelity to traditional standards. We didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell - which, if I’m not mistaken, is still preached to this day in Washington.

Since you’re probably dying to know, we paid $600 for it...in 1980. If it survives for 500 years, it may again be worth that much. It served in the entryway for three years until it was replaced with a new 4' x 6' Afghan Mauri with columns of Tekke guls.

Now who will be our next storyteller?