Although the main reason for acquiring a handmade carpet is for use, it can also be considered as a worthwhile investment. When considering buying a carpet for investment one should opt for a handmade carpet made of natural dyes and high quality wool or silk. Besides the general state of the carpet it is important to examine the condition of the knots. This will determine how well the carpet will age with time and use. A carpet with unique motifs and colouring tends to increase in value and this applies to both exclusive silk on silk carpets as well as rustic nomadic carpets.
Like a fine bottle of wine, a handmade carpet that is properly cared for will undoubtedly increase in value making it one of the most rewarding investments one could make.
The most expensive carpet in the world
The most expensive carpet was sold at a Sotheby's auction for a record 33.8 million dollars in 2013. It is believed to be an early 17th century Kerman carpet with a rare "vase" technique set on a red background. This record shuttered the previous sale of yet another Kerman carpet in 2010 that was sold for 9 million dollars.
The development in carpet producing countries
90% of Persian carpets, both old and new, are being made in homes as a source of extra income. Among the nomads and the village people, it is the women who take care of the household including the children, weaving carpets which are to be sold at some market, while their husbands take care of cattle and the farming.
This trend is slowly changing, as the villagers move to the cities to seek jobs and the cities expand towards the villages. Factories are being build on places where the people used to cultivate the soil back in time and agriculture is also being industrialized.
Today a great part of the nomadic culture is disappearing when they become more resident. One of the reasons is that they find areas where the conditions are good and can stay for longer periods, therefore they do not have to move around. Slowly, they are changed into some kind of "resident nomads". Today most nomads move around with jeeps and motorcycles, a sight very different from the one with for example a nomad and his camels.
Nomadic carpets are already in short supply and they are becoming much more difficult to find. Back in time our buyers did not have to make an effort to buy hundreds of nomad carpets at the same time. Today it is a challenge to find one single buy!
Over the past years the lack of access and the increased inquiries have contributed to heavy price rises (500%) on almost all Persian carpets.
These conditions counts more or less even for smaller Persian workshop carpets.
Persian carpets are nevertheless still very cheap in proportion to the quality mainly for two reasons:
Persian carpets are made as a hobby in the homes by the women (as an extra source of income) and they do not charge in proportion to the work they put in (compared to the Rölakan manufacturing in Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries in former times).
- The sinking Iranian currency (Rial) which did not have the same effect on the price rises as in Western currency.
Until about 18 years ago the Chinese government state aided the carpet manufacturing in China. The reason for this was to get the Chinese export of handmade carpets started and to create more jobs in the country. Eventually more interesting products with better profits emerged and at the same time the borders were opened in China for foreign capital and industry.
This is one of the main reasons why many people in China gave up carpet manufacturing and instead began to search for jobs at the factories and in the industry. Many younger Chinese carpet weavers found it more pleasant to move to bigger cities and work in the industry rather than stay put in the countryside.
The standard of living in China has improved and the work labour has in the later years become at least five times more expensive. The state aided help which has ceased, on carpets, raw materials (silk, wool, cotton) and the large influx from the clothes industry in the country have lead to a higher price level. The elderly who choose to stay and manufacture carpets are also slowly dying out.
Today, compared to 20 years ago, Chinese carpets are about 5 times more expensive to buy.
About 20-30 years ago Turkey was one of the worlds largest producers of carpets. The social and industrial progress has contributed to conditions that have lead to decline of carpet production which does not exist in Turkey anymore. Real Turkish made carpets are extremly expensive and today carpets are being imported, from Iran and India for example, to be sold in the domestic market. These carpets are also sold to tourists who often think that they are buying real Turkish carpets.
In other carpet producing countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan the development is more or less the same which indicates that within 10 years the culture of weaving carpets by hand will probably be marginalized and in some areas die out.
Tips before buying
A few purchases of an oriental carpet can create that cosy feeling in your home at a reasonable price.
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Why is it that a handmade oriental carpet can have a price of 215 Euro while another similar carpet costs 2150 Euro or more?
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