Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 05-19-2007 04:26 AM:

Fakes again

Oh, thank you, Pat (any more photos of Daghestan Kilims pleeeeese?)

The theme of “reproduction” rugs surfaces again. Or “fake rugs”: I do not recall ever seeing a rugs sold as “reproduction rug made from old wool and processed to appear antique”, do you? Meaning that pieces like these:

will undoubtedly end on the market as antique.
And they seem very well made, like your close-up shows:

From the photo, it looks like a genuine rug to me. Do you agree?
Well, now that I know it, there is too much irregularity on the brown field for a normal abrash and the knots seem also a bit too irregular, perhaps… Anyway, people who made it have all my respect.

What do you think, folks… it could be possible to check the rugs for the presence of rubber from tires, to tell them apart from the real ones?



Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-19-2007 12:56 PM:


This post seems as though there was another preceding it that I haven't seen, such as one from Patrick showing fake rugs. Anyway, it is sobering to see these convincing examples. It was this kind of risk in the marketplace that made me first suggest that James's excellent Ersari/Beshir on the other thread might be new. It looked too good. (I've since retracted that charge.)

When I saw the first DOBAG rugs about 20 odd years ago, I realized how feasible it was for skilled persons to approximate old quality rugs. Before that, one did not see this sort of thing. I saw many rugs in the middle of the streets in Teheran and Isphahan, but they were obviously fair to poor quality with unpleasant colors that would not have fooled anybody who knew what a good rug should look like.

Did Patrick post something somewhere that I've missed, illuminating this question of "fake rugs?"

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 05-19-2007 01:35 PM:

Hi Richard,

No, you didn’t miss anything, but - besides the fact that we were discussing about fakes a month of two ago (in a thread that we HAD to close), the subject is a recurrent one.

And I was thinking more specifically about the piece that appeared at ACOR 2002 (or was it 2001?) and was discussed in this thread of Salon 85: Repairs and Fakes… A Smooth Transition.


Posted by Unregistered on 05-19-2007 01:50 PM:


Thanks for that link. I hadn't seen it.

Posted by Steve Price on 05-19-2007 02:38 PM:


Kindly overwrite the word "unregistered" in the user name field in future posts. We don't permit anonymous or pseudonymous posting.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-19-2007 05:40 PM:


That was me, too. Same oversight. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-20-2007 12:00 PM:

Seeing these rugs on the street makes me wonder what effect leaked engine oil on wool would have on carbon dating? That would make an interesting test. Sue

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 05-20-2007 12:12 PM:

Hi Sue,

I was wondering, instead, what would happen if a car brakes on a rug-covered road… A crash without the shrieeeeeek??!!


Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-20-2007 01:21 PM:

There you go, Filiberto. How about rolled rugs as car bumpers? Quiet, lower repair bill crashes -just scroll out a new section until proper ageing has occurred and then return them to "ye olde rug shoppe" when you get to the end of the rolls for replacements. Someone's probably already doing it somewhere. Sue

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-21-2007 01:01 AM:


They did use rugs for transportation (magic carpets) quite some time ago, but the auto industry put them out of business because it would cost them profits. Just like the oil and auto industries are suppressing the technology to produce 200 mile per gallon cars.
And we shouldn't call these rugs fakes. They are "reproductions".
Seriously, the companies manufacturing these reproductions can obviously sell them as such for more than they would get if they just made them as new, unaltered copies of historic rugs. Otherwise they would just make copies of the originals without the added cost of altering them. (although putting some water on a rug and leaving it on the street for a week or so probably doesn't cost very much)
These manufacturers are not selling these pieces on the secondary market, where unsuspecting purchasers are getting less than they are hoping for. It is not like the Romanian Tuduc who sold his pieces through intermediaries as original antiques.
There are reputable manufacturers making rugs that look like aged Serapi's, Oushak's and such and they are selling them to the designer trade and upscale merchants as exactly that, reproductions made to look old. And there is quite a demand. (although it does not come from cheapskate junk-food buyers like myself)
On the other hand, I did see quite a number of pristine beetle-bags and other "valuable" collector tribal pieces that looked too good to be true at the ICOC. This is good news for collectors like me who have a pile of worthless junk - no one will bother faking it for a profit!

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 07:39 AM:

Hi Patrick,

I see a fine line between "reproductions" such as these, and "fakes". The only difference is the approach taken by the seller. If they are sold as antiques, they are fakes. If they are sold as new made to look old, they are reproductions. You mention that there are a number of manufacturers who are up front about the age and nature of manufacture. However, I suspect that a relatively large proportion of this type of production ends up being sold as "fake" antiques.

Buyer beware. Now I'll have to remember to keep an eye out for tire tracks, engine oil and the smell of tire rubber as one more means of assessing potential rug purchases!


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-21-2007 10:31 AM:

fake reasoning?


There are also people who are selling modern Baluch pieces as antique, mass-production post-WWII pieces as antique and replica tribal pieces as antique. Some are just ignorant, others are scamming the ignorant.
The market for, and availability of, extremely good old pieces is rather miniscule. Prices for 150+ year old pieces in great condition are considerably above the means of average collectors. With only a few dozen major auctions per year worldwide and at most a few hundred dealers of actual, authentic, antique rugs anyone wishing to start a collection of really great pieces needs to be a millionaire. And even millionaires are buying reproductions - who wants to buy a rug for $100,000 and let their friends walk on it, when a $10,000 version will do?

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-21-2007 10:39 AM:

Hi Pat,
I don't know what purchasers of these rugs might be getting. One thing that concerns me is that along the watered rug road the telephone pole looks as alive as the trees. Did you see any living trees in Turkey? It looks pretty darn grim in the photos. Sue

Posted by Steve Price on 05-21-2007 10:52 AM:

Originally posted by Sue Zimmerman
Hi Pat,
I don't know what purchasers of these rugs might be getting. One thing that concerns me is that along the watered rug road the telephone pole looks as alive as the trees. Did you see any living trees in Turkey? It looks pretty darn grim in the photos. Sue

Hi Sue

If you visit central Virginia during December, January or February, you'll see trees just as "dead" as the ones in that photo. Arrive in May or June, and most will have been miraculously resurrected. Our telephone poles, on the other hand, remain dead all year round.

Steve Price

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-21-2007 11:24 AM:

Hi Steve, No roadside tree leaves yet in April in Turkey? That surprises me. Out here in the midwest our phone poles remain dead, too, although some woodpeckers would disagree. Sue

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 11:27 AM:

Hi Patrick,

Well, um, I think $10,000 is actually a lot of money for any rug that is not a masterpiece or of high ethnographic or historical interest. Maybe I don't know the market that well. Still, I wonder what is the mindset behind those driving this "honest reproduction" market? I can better understand something like the DOBAG project rugs where you get a rug in terrific shape with good designs and good wool. But what is the extra appeal of a rug that has been been "aged" in this fashion? I can imagine the parlour conversation between an owner of this carpet and an interested visitor...

Visitor: "Wow, that looks like a really old carpet! Where did you find it?"
Owner: "Well, actually, it was made just last year with oldish wool using an old design, and then beaten up and driven over by trucks and cars to wear it out so that it looks really old."
Visitor: "Oh... wasn't the opera breathtaking this evening?"

It strikes me that getting a really old design, but not with really old wool and really old dyes, is much diminished from a really old carpet. Beating it up seems to make things worse, not better, if the seller and buyer know that it is all artificial.

But, "chacun à son goût"...


Posted by Steve Price on 05-21-2007 11:40 AM:

Originally posted by Sue Zimmerman
Hi Steve, No roadside tree leaves yet in April in Turkey? That surprises me. Out here in the midwest our phone poles remain dead, too, although some woodpeckers would disagree. Sue

Hi Sue

Central Virginia has leaves by mid-April, but you don't have to go very far north of here to find bare trees until a little later on.

A snapshot of about half a block of one street is a pretty small sample from which to draw conclusions about the vegetation of a nation that is bordered on three sides by major bodies of water, has a central high desert, lot of mountains and lakes.

Even in that snapshot, I see what appears to be a tree with leaves on it on the left side of the picture. I've been to Turkey five times, always during summer months, and have picked apricots, olives, hazelnuts, and various other goodies from local trees. Never did see anything growing on the telephone poles, though. It's a lot like Virginia in that respect.

Steve Price

Posted by Wendel Swan on 05-21-2007 03:44 PM:

Hi Filiberto,

Those are interesting images of fakes and the locations where they were photographed. Did you take the pics? If not, who did and what were the circumstances? I recognize most of the people in the interior shot and it looks like it might have been on one of the ICOC tours.

Talking about fakes and showing where and how they are produced is really an important topic. I commend you for it. Rugs are being "faked" by over-restoration as well.

Please provide some more insight.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-21-2007 04:36 PM:

Hey Patrick,

I know I've been silly and fresh in the other thread, but this is serious. (Mickeying around with Baluch rugs is very serious business.) Have you seen the "faked" Baluches? On a scale of one to ten, how convincing are they to an experienced observer?

Rich Larkin

Posted by richard tomlinson on 05-21-2007 10:11 PM:

Hi Wendel

You say that rugs are being faked by 'over-restoration'.

At what point does restoration become over-restoration? A percentage of the rug dimension? A very grey area...

Richard Tomlinson

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 05-22-2007 02:52 AM:

Inattentive, aren’t we?

Hi Wendel,

The photos are from Pat’s salon, and there are more of them in part 4.
Have a look: one seems like a good old Karachov, another like an honest Chelaberd, the big one is an Oushak, I think. From the photos they look pretty much the real things.

I don’t know what this is supposed to be: a unique South Caucasian with “Met Hame” blue field and Lotto-esque inner border, first quarter of 19th?

Imagine the discussion if somebody had posted it here with the following: “I bought this recently on xBay, the seller said is a rare YY rug, at least XYth cent. What do you think about age and provenance?”!!!

This small mat recalls more the other “Zakatala” mat discussed in the above-linked thread of Salon 85, but much less appealing. The rug underneath is interesting, though.

Anyway, the “Caucasian” above and the mat seem totally “invented”, as the one of salon 85.

I find all these fakes scary… And perhaps the “creative” ones are scarier than the Karachov etc., copies.

About the “Rugs are being "faked" by over-restoration as well”.

Yes, it’s perfectly true, with a distinction: the percentage of restoration above which an artifact becomes a fake could be a hard subject of discussion, BUT at least there are still original parts in a restored object – and hopefully a rug should have the original design conserved.

These fakes, instead, are 100% “untrue”.
At lest the “creative” ones have some originality of their own, though, even if it’s MODERN creativity.


Posted by Horst Nitz on 05-22-2007 05:02 PM:

Hi all

years ago in Afghanistan I was visiting an "Antiques factory" - as one of the consequences I since test woodworm holes on old furniture with a thin wire. If it goes in straight it is a likely fake.

What is the equivalent of this test on rugs?



Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-22-2007 07:15 PM:

Patrick, I agree with you.
I don't think these reproduction rugs are meant to be sold as old, either. 10k is not much to spend for "new money" to create a mood in a room of "old money". It's a harmless decorating thing. If some of them end up in the hands of rug collectors it's not the factory's fault. They look like what they are, to me. Not old. Sue

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-23-2007 07:51 AM:


As to mind set of buyer's of "aged" reproduction rugs imagine this conversation between an owner and an interested visitor...

Visitor: "I saw a rug just like that in a castle in Architectural Digest a few years ago!"

Owner: "I know, can you believe it, a rug like that costs 100k? This one is a reproduction we got for only 10k. We're spending the 90k we saved by buying it and are taking a cruise around the world next year!"

Visitor: "Wow! Where can I get a rug like that? I get so tired of packing and unpacking luggage. A cruise sounds really good."

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-23-2007 10:54 PM:

Rug money, rug sense


They could have attended the ICOC with the money they saved!

Patrick Weiler