Vic801

How To Buy A Carpet In Turkey

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Disclaimer: I am not a carpet expert and have only limited experience of the carpet industry in Cappadocia so take this with a pinch of salt please.Carpet weaving is an ancient art and reflects both a necessity of nomad life to cover the tents and floors and keep warm but also a means of communication. The symbols woven into carpets and kilims reflect not only the village tradition, each village having their own specific patterns, but the hopes and fears of the girls who is weaving it. She might weave in fertility symbols or the wish of having a house of her own, she might weave in the fear of going hungry or of her future mother-in-law. In the way the tassles are knotted she leaves the message to her parents that she accepts or not the fiance they have found for her. So a real hand-woven carpet is a work of art and a poem and a diary at the same time.The weft (vertical frame threads) is strung on the loom and the warp (horizontal) knotted around each string. Each knot is double-knotted (Gordian knot) for extra strength in the colour which corresponds to the pattern. At the end of each row the weaver passes a stick through the weft threads and presses down the warp. Then the rough ends of the knot are cut with special scissors. The detail of the pattern will be more precise if the wool is finer and the more knots per square cm the clearer the flowers and ramshorns will be. Hereke carpets will have 18 knots vertically and 18 knots horizontally per square centimetre averaging 3 240 000 knots per metre. All by hand! Silk carpets can have up to 22 by 22 per square centimetre. The wool used is also important. Wool from the back of a sheep rather than the chest is better. Wool from mountain sheep is more resistant. Wool sheared in spring is the best quality. You need to take all this into account as you look at the carpets and touch the quality. If you buy an authentic handmade carpet you are buying both a work of art and something that someone has spent months, years creating. Now, if you wanted to buy a Picasso or a first edition of some famous author, would you do it without being an expert or taking an expert with you? Are you capable of feeling the difference between winter wool or spring wool?If you want to buy a carpet, think about the reasons you want one. You want a souvenir from Turkey? Fine, buy yourself a kilim or sumac in a small family-run shop, enjoy the show, the chat and the tea and go back with your souvenir. You need something to cover the stain on the parquet and think something in Turkey will be cheaper? Forget it, go down to Leroy Merlin or Ikea in your home country and pick up a cheap rug. If you have enough money not to bother whether what you are being sold as a handmade Turkish carpet is actually machine-made in China, if you like it, buy it. If you are buying as an investment, read up about carpets before you go, visit carpet museums, talk to experts and buy in small shops.Any carpet "factory" that is included in your tour is a wonderful interesting experience but keep the wallet in the pocket. Depending where you go you will be told it is a "weaving school", a "cultural centre" or even a "government-subsidised cooperative". You will be told you are supporting the local economy. Sorry but b*llocks. Take the time to think. Take a carpet company with 25 airconditionned salesrooms spread over 6500 square metres, 70 salespeople, 20 carpet bearers, canteen, cafe, cleaning women, women for the weaving demonstration etc. Think of the utilities, rent, and salaries to pay, the amount of overheads that have to be paid for. Compare with a small family-run shop where the inventory is already paid for since it has been passed down from father to son, the rent which is lower and the only employee being the little gofer.Add into your calculations that if you go directly to your small shop you cut out all the commission paid to guides, agencies, hotels and drivers which cuts off at least 30% off your price, can be up to 50%. In the carpet factory where we worked we saw a colleague sell a Taspinar 130*200 cm 16knots per square centimetre for 16 000 euros. We asked our friend in Urgup if he had a Taspinar 130*200 16 knots. He said yes. We asked the price. 4000 euros but because we are friends I can sell it to you cost price 3000 euros. Don't think that you can buy anything over 100 years old. Apart the fact that they have already been snapped up by collectors years ago, you won't be able to take them out of Turkey. Sizes of carpets in Turkey are relatively standard as are the looms and there are 5 standard sizes which all have names which for the life of me I can't remember (Metin would be ashamed of me) but I do remember the smallest size is pillow-cased size and the biggest ones are generally 2m by 3m. Then you have runners, round ones, square or hexagonal ones but you don't come across them frequently.Above all, don't listen to tour guides who tell you to beware of small shops in town, that they are a rip-off or that it is dangerous to go into the small towns of Cappadocia at night. That is complete rubbish. Buying in a small shop is supporting the local economy instead of filling the pockets of the shareholders of the carpet factories and it can be an enjoyable experience. Wherever you buy or look, enjoy it, whether you choose big or small shops the seller knows if you don't want to buy today there is no point pushing but maybe next year or in 10 years? If you have enjoyed it you'll be back one day, inch allah. So don't miss out on at least looking at some of these beauties even if you have no intention of buying.Now tomorrow if my tyres are slashed by some unhappy tour guide, I'll know why. Oh, just remembered we have no car, we had to sell it, so I'm safe!

lindadray likes this

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Thank you for taking the time to write that piece for us. For me, and I'm sure others will have found it interesting. I for one learnt a few things that I didn't know. I agree with you that if people are to buy carpets, especially the larger more expensive ones that they should do their homework first before embarking on such a purchase.I'm glad you mentioned that the smaller shops shouldn't be forgotten, whilst they don't have such a variety that you would find in the large flashy sales rooms, you will find something special and as you say will be supporting the local community which is important so they don't disappear.I have been to one of these sales rooms and was overwelmed by the experience it was a sight to behold and have never seen soo many carpets at one time and the selling techniqes were something else. I didn't buy anything but can understand how people can get carried away by it all and end up buying one.

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Thank you Vicky for that enlightening piece.I too have been on a tour that included a visit to a carpet 'factory'. I was very tempted by some of the carpets, the colours were wonderful but kept my purse in my pocket. :)

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. I agree with you that if people are to buy carpets, especially the larger more expensive ones that they should do their homework first before embarking on such a purchase.

Don't forget, bigger is not necessarily better, it is all down to the number of knots and the quality of the wool, cotton or silk. A small square of 20*20 cm of 24*24 knots in silk on cotton will be worth 10 times more than a wool on wool 2m*3m carpet.But I do think that while I would never buy in a carpet factory it is worth visiting and seeing the demonstration of the women who tie these tiny knots with amazing dexterity. And you do get to see some gorgeous pieces. A real Hereke is a beauty to behold.

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Don't forget, bigger is not necessarily better, it is all down to the number of knots and the quality of the wool, cotton or silk. A small square of 20*20 cm of 24*24 knots in silk on cotton will be worth 10 times more than a wool on wool 2m*3m carpet.

Yes, you made a very good point about the knots and how it would affect the price. I agree if you visit the factories you will see some beautiful carpets and the woman who do the demonstrations are amazing and well worth the visit.

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Just found the little piece of paper where I noted down the standard carpet sizes. Just to say if you want a specific size of carpet you have to adapt to what is available (sizes can vary up to 10 or 20 cm under or over) :YASTIK 60 X 90 cm. CEYREK 90 X 135 cm. KISA YOLLUK 70 X 200 cm. SECCADE 120 X 180 cm. SAF 110 X 230 cm. KARYOLA 150 X 230 cm. KELLE 300 X 200 cm. TABAN 6 m2 and over.

lindadray likes this

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Wow ! Thanks Vic, that was really informative !

I actually collect persian carpets and anything that I can afford.On my first baptism into the Grand Bazaar I thought why not!!and entered into the tiny carpet hung grotto.I had my turkish husband with me and was braced for bargaining till the death.Two hours later I had got my choice down to half the price and was pretty pleased with myself.We had complete knowledge of the salesmans family tree and had drunk 23 glasses of tea...The carpet was neatly wrapped and waiting under my arm.....Then my husband decided he could get the price down even further..They were shouting at each other and punching the air.....The salesman grabbed the carpet and his cousins loomed ominously....We had to go and I didnt get anything!...gutted.I forgot to say.In every carpet there is a deliberate mistake.The reason is that only Allah is perfect and man is not.
Silkroute likes this

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Tansy now you mention about mistakes being on made in carpets delibrately I remembered I'd heard that too, but didn't know if it was true or not.

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Tansy now you mention about mistakes being on made in carpets delibrately I remembered I'd heard that too, but didn't know if it was true or not.

It is true.I spend a lot of time staring at the floor!!

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Absolutely spot on Vic. Very detailed and accurate report. My husband worked as a carpet seller for years in the big centres, in Cappadocia and other areas. Where did I buy my kilims? From small shops!

Vic801 likes this

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Thank you. That's the best recommendation you can get!If there is anything else you think of as tips for carpet-buying please do add. You can't imagine the number of tourists who ask us the same questions.

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I thought this article was a good read and thought I would share it.

Suzan Bayraktaroğlu is a prominent expert on carpets and rugs in the country. For 28 years she has been traveling all over Anatolia to collect historic carpets from vakıf mosques. So far she has examined hundreds of thousands of carpets. She has gotten lice and struggled against moths many times. In addition to overcoming these challenges to uncover priceless carpets, like a detective, she has been on the trail of carpets stolen from storerooms....

DEAD LINK

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"Any carpet "factory" that is included in your tour is a wonderful interesting experience but keep the wallet in the pocket. Depending where you go you will be told it is a "weaving school", a "cultural centre" or even a "government-subsidised cooperative". You will be told you are supporting the local economy. Sorry but b*llocks. "

Posted Imageowned by the Mafia more like :) I have worked as a Tour Guide and we were obliged to go to such places or we could not get into the sights because of " threats " . The Turkish Travel Agencies made these visits compulsory . Anyone who questioned this or gave feedback that tourists did not want to go to see carpets/ leather / gold .... was in trouble.

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Vic I was watching martha stewart on e2 the other day and she was in cappadocia and they showed the carpet weaving place. so beautiful :D when I saw it ı thought of you. I must come and visit cappadocia one day :D xxx

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Sam, Cappadocia is a must-do! I'd love to show you the bits I know when you come.

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I watched Martha Stewart the other day and thought to myself: What a massive Tax dodgin' harlot you are! ...I then went to Bauhaus and bought some wonderful pots for my balcony.p.s. Some of this information may or may not be true.

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I watched Martha Stewart the other day and thought to myself: What a massive Tax dodgin' harlot you are!

Who/What is Martha Stewart?

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Thanks Clinky.

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