Friday, 4 April 2008

Antique-Wash: The Great Game of Making New Oriental Carpets Look Old

PRAGUE, April 4, 2008 – A Turkmen friend once was visiting his uncle, who owns a rug shop in Peshawar.

As they drank up their strong black tea, the uncle threw what was left in his glass onto the new carpet at his feet.

The visitor was shocked. “What, you don’t like that carpet?” he asked.

“I do,” the uncle replied. “It’s my favorite. But foreigners want carpets that look old and used.”

What the uncle was doing – in a modest way – was ‘antiquing’ his merchandise. The practice has a long and venerable history, from ‘tea-washing’ carpets with herbal extracts, to dousing them in chemicals, to hand-painting shadings into the pile.

The most famous of old rug forgers, the Romanian weaver Theodor Tuduc (1888 - 1983), reportedly used river stones to abrade his Transylvanian look-alikes. The rubbing helped make his copies look so genuinely used that some were even collected by museums.

Here is a carpet by Tuduc that is inspired by a Mamluke design. Tuduc carpets are so well woven that today they are collectibles in their own right. The carpet is available from the Nazmiyal Collection in New York.

Early European adventure-travelers to the East reported still other antiquing techniques. Eustache de Lory wrote about two in his 1910 article ‘The Persian Bazaars:’

“The wily Persian has discovered the secret of making new carpets look ancient. He smokes them over a fire made with special herbs, and this gives the carpet a used appearance and fades the colors. It is nearly impossible, when this is well done, to distinguish between a genuine antique and a forgery. A commoner way of aging a carpet (very common in the bazaars) is to spread it out on the street, in order that every passer-by and animal may trample on it.”

Of course, de Lory was an Orientalist, a genre of artists that professionally exoticized the East. No-one knows if his notes are any more reliable than paintings by Charles Robertson in the 1880s of Cairo’s alleys filled with Caucasian carpets.

Still, the question remains. Why is the artificial aging of carpets – with or without the buyer’s knowledge – such a persistent part of the rug business?

One reason might be that many Western consumers find Eastern colors too bold. Aging rugs with chemical washes can mute the hues to better fit those buyers' tastes.

But another answer might be found in the way different societies regard time and the value of handcrafted goods.

In the hyper-modern societies of the west, old people often complain they do not get the respect their years deserve. But old things, such as heirlooms, are venerated.

That veneration seems to be doubled when the heirlooms represent traditional handicrafts that were commonplace in Europe until they faced extinction in the machine age. Today, surviving pieces are seen as something genuine, artisanal, and rare and the older they look the more authentic they seem.

Many of these arts and crafts exist today mostly in museum collections. The museums themselves began to appear from the 1750s onwards, becoming more and more numerous and nostalgic as the industrial era proceeded.

By contrast, more traditional societies seem to have a very different view of their traditional objects. Here, time erodes a thing’s value instead of enhancing it. After all, similar objects are still being made by every new generation in more or less the same way. When something wears out, its value passes on to its replacement.

So, perhaps it is no surprise that strange things can happen when modern and traditional worlds meet – things that not only interest businessmen but also some anthropologists. One is Brian Spooner:

“It is in the nature of things that our search for authenticity is constantly frustrated by the people among whom we seek it. The more we reveal our need for authenticity to the Turkmen, the more they frustrate our search by adapting their wares in ways they imagine should please us.”

Spooner made that observation in his article "Weavers and Dealers: the authenticity of an oriental carpet." It appeared in the 1988 book ‘The Social Life of Things.’

In a footnote, Spooner cites as an example the museum of the University of Pennsylvania once receiving a gift of a genuine Turkmen carpet woven in the design of an American flag. Compared to that, splashing tea over a traditional Turkmen design seems almost like a blessing.




Related Links

Travelers’ Accounts: Eustache de Lory, The Persian Bazaars

Rugs in Orientalist Paintings, by Filiberto Boncompagni

Brian Spooner in ‘Weavers and Dealers: the authenticity of an oriental carpet”

The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective


Anonymous said...

The antique dealers in my Istanbul neighborhood age their carpets by putting them in the street for cars to drive over.

Love, love, love this blog, BTW.

Oriental Rugs said...

The best on the net! Best. Product. Ever! I will reccomend you to my collegues.

--Edward Moore

xlpharmacy said...

I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post's to be exactly what I'm looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself? I wouldn't mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome web site!

Unknown said...

It's not my very first time to visit this blog; I’m visiting this daily and acquire superb info from here day by day.Lags

Unknown said...

This is really quite informative blog such qualitative info I have never seen anywhere. Lashar Rugs

Unknown said...

I would be supportive on all your articles and blogs as a result of they are simply up to the mark. carpet cleaner Urbandale

Unknown said...

ugg outlet,
futbol baratas,
cheap michael kors handbags,
jordan shoes,
lebron james shoes,
louis vuitton outlet,
nike free 5,
hermes bags,
canada goose outlet,
links of london,
timberland boots,
thomas sabo uk,
ray ban sunglasses,
soccer jerseys,
cheap jordans,
michael kors handbags,
cheap jordans,
vans shoes,
oakley sunglasses,
parajumpers coats,
ray ban sunglasses,
the north face clearance,
cheap nfl jerseys,
oakley sunglasses,

Fangyaya said...

fitflops sale clearance
coach outlet
kevin durant shoes 8
louis vuitton handbags
celine outlet
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban wayfarer
louis vuitton outlet
ed hardy clothing
coach factory outlet
air jordans
coach outlet
jordan concords
celine handbags
basketball shoes
ray ban sunglasses wholesale
burberry outlet
coach outlet online
coach factory outlet
louis vuitton bags
instyler curling iron
marc jacobs
gucci outlet
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton handbags
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet store online
longchamp handbags
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet
jordan 6
christian louboutin outlet
coach outlet online
michael kors outlet online
jordan shoes
coach outlet

Unknown said...

michael kors
ugg outlet
cheap nfl jerseys
buffalo bills jerseys
gucci outlet
nike air max 90
ed hardy uk
cincinnati bengals jerseys
ray ban sunglasses outlet
oklahoma city thunder

raybanoutlet001 said...

kate spade sale
coach outlet
ugg boots
ugg outlet
michael kors bags
new orleans saints jerseys
houston texans jerseys
jordan shoes
yeezy shoes
skechers shoes

Unknown said...

jordan 4
lebron james shoes
michael kors outlet online
longchamp outlet
yeezy boost
roshe run
ultra boost
air jordan
cheap nhl jerseys
nike air force

Unknown said...

Contact Blue Paisley today. Rug Sale & Rug Cleaning Toronto, Modern rug, Persian rug, Area rugs, Antique rugs, Toronto Rug Company and rugs in Toronto Carpet.

Visit for More: Blue Paisley

The Smart Digital said...

The Smart Digital - IT Services & Consulting, Digital Marketing, Information Technology, BPO, SEO, Webdesign, Web development, App development, Web hosting, Consulting service.
Service Area : US, UK, Canada, Austraila, india, Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Tirupur, Pollachi, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Nagercoil, Tiruchendur.

Visit for More: The Smart Digital

Meraas said...

Great post about the Antique carpets rugs and persian carpets.Get antique carpets in low price.

Unknown said...

nhl jerseys
nike air max
ralph lauren outlet
adidas football soldes
mbt shoes
ray ban sunglasses
moncler jackets
off white outlet
polo pas cher

5689 said...

adidas nmd
pandora jewelry
pandora outlet
michael kors outlet
coach outlet
ralph lauren uk
ralph lauren polo
yeezy boots 350
salomon shoes
canada goose outlet

Obat Sakit Pundak dan Leher said...

Thank you for sharing an interesting and very useful article. And let me share an article about health here I believe this is useful. Thank you :)

Manfaat Buah Pisang Untuk Wajah
Jenis Pisang untuk Masker Wajah
Ciri-ciri Penyakit Asbestosis

Cara Merawat Cedera Dikepala said...

the article is very petrifying, hopefully it can be useful and an important lesson.

Obat Herbal Untuk Mengatasi Ejakulasi Dini
Obat Herbal Pembersih Rahim
Obat Herbal Turun Berok

Obat Dermatitis Atopik Herbal said...

Thank you for sharing the information. See also information from us through the following article! Thank you :)

Obat Herbal Tremor/Tangan Gemetar
Cara Mengatasi Menstruasi yang Berkepanjangan
Obat Benjolan di Leher

yanmaneee said...

nike vapormax
yeezy boost 350 v2
jordan shoes
goyard handbags
michael kors outlet online
moncler jackets
christian louboutin
paul george shoes