Whether a carpet is authentic: “The colors and knotting of the new carpets are beautifully made. They really compete with the older carpets, that’s how good they are.”

In Iran I visited many bazaars (markets) during my research, some of which date back to the 16th century. I often came across beautiful carpets and rugs. In these busy bazaars, many workers repair worn carpets on the floor. Sitting on a carpet, the men with bent shoulders work on the most beautiful colorful carpets. The dimensions of the carpets are incredibly large and you would think that these carpets only fit in large villas or palaces.

Beautifully colored Persian carpets, but also Kilim carpets that these traders in the bazaar buy once a year from the Bakhtiari nomads in rural Iran. When I look at all these carpets I feel the old Persia. It crawls under my skin. But there is a problem; how do I know which carpets are authentic and which are not? I asked Hamid, an Iranian carpet dealer in the carpet bazaar in Tehran, several questions about modern and older carpets.


Carpet merchant Hamed in the Tehran bazaar
“It’s about the quality of the carpet, it also depends on whether you like it or not. It’s like looking at a painting. One reason is that makers follow a specific design that is difficult to make. they only produce a few. Carpets that have a design that no one else makes are authentic. The other reason is the material. It is very difficult to find the best materials. I also consider these things when buying a carpet. I am very selective.”

What makes the Iranian carpet so special?
”People all over the world love the Iranian carpet. It is known as a high quality product. It is like buying luxury cars. If you choose a fast sports car, you go for Ferrari or Lamborghini.”

Is there a difference between a commercial and an authentic carpets?
“The difference between an authentic and commercial carpet? I cannot say that the commercial carpet is bad because it is not. I have to admit; the colors and knotting of the new carpets are good. They really compete with the older carpets, that’s how good they are.”

Photos: Felix van den Belt

Felix van den Belt

Felix van den Belt

Give Felix an assignment about carpets and he will go for it. He listens and asks questions. What is the history and what makes certain rugs unique? What can be said about social life around the carpets? Felix's passion for carpets prompts him to discover these questions like no other.