Persian Rugs

By 1979, when revolution came to Iran (formerly Persia), Persian rugs had become formulaic, and frankly, boring. The quality of most types had been in decline since the 1920's. The creativity was gone and the use of natural dyes and hand-spun yarns had been all but abandoned. Yet their reputation as good investments persisted. This, of course, was mythical. Many of the most recognizable names: Kashan, Sarouk, Isfahan, Nain, even Bidjar, had priced themselves out of the market leaving little room for appreciation. Production stagnated and inventory accumulated.

Then in 1987 the American government, in its infinite wisdom, imposed an embargo on all Iranian goods so as to starve the Iranian government of cash and protect/support Saddam Hussein in his unprovoked war against them. When the embargo was finally lifted in July of 2000, warehouses in Iran were stacked to the rafters with unsold carpets. With the European market weak, all those rugs came flooding into the U.S. and prices fell dramatically. So much for investment value.

The upside of this dire tale is that at the prodding of American and European importers, some Iranian producers have reintroduced the time-honored techniques of hand-spinning and natural-dyeing with spectacular results. Some of the most exciting rugs woven anywhere in a century are emerging from Iran today.

However, economic factors threaten this renaissance with sudden death. As a result of double digit inflation there and the steady devaluation of the dollar, the prices of these rugs are rising fast and many of them will be out of reach before the potential buyers even become aware of them. That said, it's not too late yet. We have some superb examples.