What to look out for when buying Oriental rugs on holiday?

Many people go on holiday to places where rugs are woven and it is part of the experience to go to the market to buy a rug.

Over the years I have been called out many times to assess and value rugs bought in the Middle East, North Africa or India and more recently China , for insurance purposes or to sell.

With regard to price generally speaking you pay pretty close or even more for the rug abroad than you would in the UK. However many rugs bought abroad are of a lower quality and would not reach the shops back home. Often rugs have weak sides that come apart after a few months which can be expensive to remedy. Check carefully along the long edges for any signs of weakness or pulling away.

Rugs may not lie flat, that are wrinkled particularly Afghans, so always put on a flat surface and look for any ruckling along the edges. Do not buy it if does.

Cheap dyes can run easily so check particularly where dark colours meet light, I have seen rugs spoilt by a spillage of a few drops. Reject anything that has colour run.

Silk rugs are often made with a cheap imitation, Mercerized cotton particularly from China. A good way to check is to take a tiny sample and burn it with a match or lighter flame. If it smells like paper burning it is cotton. If it smells like burning hair then it is likely to be silk.

If you leave it to them to ship home take a picture and measurements to discourage them from sending a cheaper substitute.

Lastly only buy something that you really like and can live with.

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