Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!

Buying Turkmen carpet

Sacred Horses: The Memoirs of a Turkmen Cowboy by Jonathan Maslow

We crossed finally to the rug market, an even more extensive area, where carpets are unfolded on the ground, displayed on racks, or hung over walls to display them. Most of the rugs produced at the great rug factories of Turkmenistan today are Teke designs, known in the trade as Bukhara rugs; Bukhara was the main export market of the region. Without exception all Turkmen families possess carpets, often using them instead of furniture. Since Turkmen don't subscribe to the Western fetish for antiques, they try to buy new carpets for their homes. The secondhand, the worn-out, and the just plain old rugs wind up for sale in the bazaar, where there are few customers outside a trickle of foreigners. The women dealers jumped to their feet as Moira and I passed, shouting in competition with each other, "Look, it's old, very old, a hundred years old!" No one mentioned the standing government decree that made removing antiquities from Turkmenistan a crime against the state, though Guvanch said he could help us evade it.

Here is the way to purchase an Oriental rug in an Asian bazaar: First, forget everything you ever heard or read about Oriental rugs—in particular, that Oriental rugs are valuable investments and will gain or lose value according to how good they are. Think only that buying a rug should be like choosing a mate: You intend to live with it for the rest of your life. All you do, then, is stroll down the rows of rug merchants, not listening to them, concentrating only on the colors and designs until your eyes meet the one rug that really moves your soul. It must be love at first sight, second sight, and third sight. The rug must speak to you. It must tell you a beautiful story with a wise moral. You must love it spontaneously, but must always think about its future effect. It will help if it is tightly knotted and has no dry rot. Thereafter, all that remains is to capitulate to the rug merchant and pay the price. Only after you have paid does the merchant take your hands in his and pronounce the traditional Islamic Salaam Aleikham, to which the correct response is Aleikham Salaam.