meta name="p:domain_verify" content="83432fc69a1d6df071f49df584f9d839 Laurl Designs: Antique rug shopping- Heriz rugs are where it's at!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Antique rug shopping- Heriz rugs are where it's at!

Today I was at Scott's Antique Market in Atlanta doing vintage and antique rug shopping. I found a ton of beauties and learn a great deal from the sellers. I have to remember that the folks selling antiques are not just trying to "sell" me the piece, but they are helping me to make an educated purchase. I should get this since I sell vintage and antiques, too. And, I want my customers to be excited about the item and the cool things that I know about it. But, it feels different on the receiving end. (another educational moment) However, I learned a great deal from the rug merchants I worked with and I look forward to doing business with them again.

 Heriz rugs were mainly what I was looking for for my client. They are typically a busy pattern with a center medallion and generous borders.

Heriz is actually a place in Iran... maybe we should go back a little further in your history lesson. These types of rugs are called Persian rugs and Persia is an older name for Iran. You will remember the regional name from your ancient Greek and Roman history lessons. It is north of the Persian Gulf. Heriz is an area in the Northwestern corner of Iran near the Caspian Sea.

So, back to the current time. Persian rugs are typically named for the city, or regions, that they were made in, since the resident rug weavers in each city developed the city style. Heriz, Tabriz, Kashan, Isfahan, Qum, etc. are all cities in Iran and names of Persian rugs. Each with distinct looks... well, they look distinct once you really start looking. At first, they are all red rugs with lots of pattern.

Heriz rugs are know for being durable and long lasting... like lasting-generations long lasting! Their durability is from the high quality of the wool from the sheep in the area. The naturally high levels of copper in the water produce very good and durable wool.

They are typically brick red to light red with blues a little greens, and ivory.

On the back of the rug, you can see the weft and it should look irregular. To me, it looks like the slubs in silk dupioni.

According to one of the rug merchants that I spoke with, Persian rugs have a further style breakdown that are classified, basically, by the colors that are popular in the regions that they are expected to be sold in. Persian rugs can be further classified as Persian Persian rugs and these have a more monochromatic color palette, they are the least expensive. Persian European rugs typically have light blues, creams and gold added to the monochromatic palette. Persian American rugs have many colors in them and are the most expensive.

This is the one I brought back to Birmingham. A beauty from the 1930's, I love the William Morris type colors in the rug! 

A different rug merchant reminded me about embargo's on Persian rugs. His vintage rugs were purchased pre-embargo. The current rug embargo started in the Fall of 2010 and allows no rugs to be brought into the US from Iran, though you are free to buy and sell the ones currently in the US. The previous embargo (1986-1999) was a bit looser. So, vintage Persian rugs, made in Iran, are a bit rarer than Persian rugs that are made to look the same but are made in and coming out of Asia. And I dare say, they are higher quality and will last longer.

Other things to note about vintage rugs in the variation in colors. These rugs are typically vegetable dyed. You will need to inform your professional rug cleaner that they are vegetable dyed. They will probably recognize this, but better safe than sorry.

Vegetable dying produces a beautiful variation in tones of the same color. You can see it in the dark banding on this rug. It goes from dark navy to black to a black brown. This variation gives the rug a desirable softness that is often mimicked in newer rugs, but never can attain the look of the real McCoy.

Lastly, you will need these few tips for maintaining your rug. Get a good carpet pad. I mean a good one, not from the hardware store, from a rug store. It will make the rug last longer. If the rug is in a sunny spot, turn it every couple of years. And, get it professionally cleaned by your local "Oriental" rug dealer, not a professional carpet shampoo-er. The folks at the rug store clean them by hand with brushes and a special soap. Steaming and chemicals can damage the wool and shorten the life of your rug.

Most importantly, enjoy the amazing, dedicated handwork that went into producing your vintage rugs. The original sale of your rug might have feed a family for a year! It is important work and deserves respect.

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