Carpets are one of the purchases that most visitors seek in Turkey. After nearly four years in the country, we have been in many shops and also in carpet factories, we have spoken with Turkish and foreigners on this issue and of course, we have also purchased. A trip to Turkey gives us the opportunity to purchase a handmade rug at a good price, but it is also a good opportunity to learn more about the culture, art and customs of the country. It is important that we enjoy both, the economic and the cultural side. Thus, if we do not get the best price, at least we will have learned about one of the oldest forms of eastern art and see in full action those sellers who know all the ins and outs of their job.
A helpful hint if we plan to buy a carpet during our trip, is to visit a store in our country before in order to know the basics about types of carpet, qualities and prices. If price is our priority, we should know that the best time to buy is between November and March. The shortage of tourists makes sellers more conducive to lower prices due to the lack of sales. Out of that time will need to deploy all our bargaining skill, keeping in mind that our opponent is a seasoned expert.
Turkish rugs are handmade and they are different from the Persians ones because they are made with double knot, wich provides them more consistency and a well-defined pattern. As for the materials, wool is used, as well as cotton and silk. Prices are completely different but the carpets are also unequal. A silk carpet is a superb piece with a very well defined and detailed drawing. A feature of silk rugs is that they have different colors depending on the side from which the look at them, usually from one side are all colors can be seen but from the other it is much clearer. The back of a silk carpet has a pattern with a better definition than the front side of many carpets made of another material.
Look at the back of the carpet provides information on the quality of the work, the better the drawing on that face, the better the carpet. However, un completely regular reverse, faultless, may indicate that the carpet is not really handmade but made with industrial processes. If we seek a traditional product, We should not choose too garish colors, bright, or striking, because that may indicate that artificial dyes have been used and it will affect the life expectancy of the carpet. Natural dyes are earth and pastel tones, blue and maroon are also natural.
If carpets are beyond our budget, we also have kilim. Unlike carpets, thay do not have knots but they are woven. Killims are softer than carpets and usually the have geometric patterns. Nowadays, they are also used to make handbags, quilts, upholstery, etc.. Although the prices are much more affordable, there are also remarkable quality kilims we will be asked a nice amount of money for.
Concerning the design of Turkish carpets, it much depends on the area where it has been manufactured. Tradition is very important in this regard and also colors, overall design of the carpet and detail of the drawings vary from one area to another. The most common designs are symmetric, the central medallion and mosaic; drawings are usually geometric patterns or floral motifs also where we use to found tulips, the Turkish national flower.
Buying a rug in Turkey is an experience. The seller will offer us a seat and drink, normally tea, although there are also sites where they offer raki. Aides begin to show all kinds of carpets making them fly before our eyes to let us enjoy their colors and patterns. We be given data on the number of nodes, the material they are made of, etc.. Normally they expect us to be the ones who ask for the price, so they try to know what we are looking for. Even though we say we do not want to buy, they will do the ritual, it is their job and they know that many people who did not want to buy a rug, finally got one.
It is easy to talk about prices. It depends on our ability to bargain, the season, if the area usualy receives many tourists, etc.. Do should not trust what people presumed to have paid, many claim to be great bargainers and they distort downward the price the really reached. Usually sellers start by saying a price that they immediately downgrade. That second price is the starting one to bargain and oftenly it is more than double what they actually want to charge us. In summer season and in very touristic sites, the initial price may be three or four times the actual carpet price, which means a long bargaining session. Anyway, we should keep in mind that the seller wants to make the operation and an adjusted price is always better for him that a missed sale. The seller is usually the owner or an employee with a fixed salary and bonus commission, but those assistants who are rolling an unrolling carpets only get paid if there is a sale, so all of them are interested in selling. Do not forget to include shipping in the price of the carpet and a discount for cash payment, if it is the case.
The most expensive rugs are pieces that last for centuries, therefore we can also be offered second hand silk carpets. The advantage is that the colors are well established and have their final state. In all carpets that we buy in Turkey we must demand a certificate indicating the origin, materials and date of the workpiece. Remember that Turkish law prohibit to get out of the country objects over 100 years old, an uncertificated carpet is an easy prey for customs agents.