The Value of Handmade Rugs

  • Oriental rugs are one of the few handcrafted furnishings being made today
  • As fewer and fewer handmade rugs are produced, their value goes up
  • These rugs can give families a way to both enjoy great beauty and protect wealth for future generations

Handmade Oriental rugs are unique, one of kind creations of beauty. They are expressions of multiple contributing artisans; the pattern maker who conceived of the design. The dye maker who blended and created the colors for the wool. The weavers who wove the rug. The shearers who sculpted the woven wool to reveal the final pattern and splendor of the rug. And finally you, the owner, who creates a space for these works of art to inspire and enrich both family and friends. Displaying them in your home is a form of reverence.

Owning a handmade Oriental rug is a great responsibility and accomplishment. We are curators and caretakers of these treasures, maintaining them for future generations. This realization becomes more and more critical as the forces of globalization and technology wash away the ancient craft of the rug maker. These pieces are truly, literally one of a kind. No handmade rug can be reproduced. Pairs of small rugs are made occasionally, but they are still unique, even one to another, when carefully examined.

The transmission of craft of handmade woven rugs from generation to generation is being broken by the march of technology, and as a consequence these rugs are becoming more rare every year. As more young people go to the cities and universities, and people move to find work for their families, the ancient skills become less known. The rug market is well supplied no question, but more and more factory made rugs are coming into the market, with fewer and fewer that are handmade with the skill and knowledge of generations, which is disappearing. These handmade rugs have a unique, indescribable beauty radiating and revealing itself as only a handmade rug will do. Machine-made factory rugs do not have these qualities.

This is why well made, well cared for and beautiful handmade rugs increase every year in value. As a rug ages it becomes more valuable and that value will grow through the generations. I like to think of these rugs as a means of preserving generational wealth, arguably better than currency or digital “ones” and “zeros” on a bank statement. These are things of exceptional beauty that not only enrich our daily enjoyment, but their beauty is a kind of wealth that can be passed on to future generations. Wealthy families are known to have rugs that have passed through generations, aging beautifully, retaining their splendor and magic.

Oriental rugs have been and continue to be stores of wealth for as long as gold has been used. Many regimes and governments have come and gone and with them their fiat currencies. Oriental rugs have been a way to preserve wealth and purchasing power, surviving great economic and financial changes as well as wars and political turmoil that we humans continue to inflict on ourselves. Political unrest is as old as the hills and sometimes we need to gather our things, roll up a rug, collect our loved ones and flee to survive the turmoil. Antique and semi-antique rugs allow us to not only have a touch of beauty in our daily lives but quietly protect our wealth with portability and utility.

People often think of wealth principally as how much of a particular currency someone has, we like to distill it down to a number. I would say that this isn’t all that useful in the long run and is a distraction from the value that is hidden in that number. To climb into a classic car and bring the engine to life or to taste the subtleties and richness of long aged wine or walk with bare feet across an antique Lilihan rug defies distilling our wealth into a single number denominated in an ever declining currency. A wonderful thing about handmade rugs is that owning one is very obtainable for most people, almost regardless of means. Currently, a small authentic rug of beautiful construction and quality can be purchased for only a few hundred dollars, sometimes as little as $150. Some people in the US will have to save long and hard for that, but it is achievable.

Sam Ramazani is an Oriental carpet educator, appraiser, broker, and skilled repair craftsman. With his daughter Sara, he owns Sara’s Oriental Rugs in Louisville, KY, providing beautiful handmade rugs, as well as expert rug cleaning and repair.

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