Why are antique rugs so expensive?

persian antique rugs dallas plano frisco

Why are antique rugs so expensive?

Well in this day and age the word expensive is becoming rather relative. As wages are going up, home and rental prices are rising across the board and a completely virtual item called a “Non Fungible Token” is selling for incredible amounts of money.  So just scratching the surface of the relative idea of the term “expensive”, but why are antique rugs so expensive? Let’s go back a little more, and ask the question why are rugs expensive?

Well, we need to first ask, is the rug a new handwoven or a machine made carpet.

If the rug is a machine made, it’s most likely made in mass production and could be sourced from absolutely everywhere at a price cheaper than buying laminate flooring. Not to mention that it’s most likely made from synthetic material through and through. 

So what if it is a hand-woven rug. Well the prices of hand-woven rugs are determinant on the quality of materials, dyes and knotting type, but the most important indicator is the country of origin. The country of origin is a direct indicator as to the price of wages, this drops, generally, the further east one travels.     A quick run through the countries  are as follows: Turkey has the most expensive labor compared to other rug producing regions, such as Iran, India, Pakistan, and India. Usually new Turkish rugs have excellent wool and workmanship, because it is more expensive than a country like India, the turkish rugs tend to be bigger knots and the rugs are more oushak style with larger patterns that lend better to coarser weaves. 


After Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are at a considerably lower price point labor wise; and quality wise having a varying degree of rugs from great to garbage. My preference definitely leans more towards Afghanistan as the smaller boutique producers are doing incredible fine rugs made from good wools. India is definitely my least favorite for several reasons, one major factor being; that so much of what goes into making a good rug is the producers ability to know what a good rug is when it is made. Surprisingly most producers are awfully clueless to this and India by far has the least in the creativity department. Not all is bad though; from a production standpoint in India, they are the best at consistently getting color and design, which is ideal for program rugs such as what you find at Feizy or Loloi Rugs.  The good thing is we live in a big world and there is a rug for everyone, I’m just glad that I'm selling rugs that I love rather than being in the business of pushing goods!


So back to the very first question as to, why are antique rugs so expensive? 

Well let's start again with where antique rugs are mostly originating from. Most antique rugs originate from the historical weaving center of Persia and Turkey with of course exceptions to India and some European countries and let's also throw in the Caucasus Mountains as well. 

Let’s focus on the region of the Middle East, this region has been producing rugs for centuries, they’ve been making rugs as a cultural and artistic pastime. There are many types of rug, such as village rugs, which could have been made by a mother and daughter who wove the rugs when they werent tending the family or vegetable gardens. Village rugs could be completely random works where the weaver may put their expression of love towards a dowry or their children. 

Then there are more city rugs which tend to be a bit more of a refined weaving; that are designed for a local market or bazaar which are a little bit more consistent to a particular region's look or style. Then there are also workshop carpets which were spearheaded by strong producers who had worked with a little more purpose, precision and design in mind. There were companies such as Ziegler & Company which were based out of Manchester England. They would go and produce for the European market in Mahal and Sultanabad Persia. Their rugs were extremely decorative and are considered prized possessions to rug connoisseurs and designers today.

So why are antique rugs so expensive? Well the truth is there are not. The market is just infantile as a decorative flooring art. If you think about the level of work that goes into making a rug, from using natural dyes that are possibly extinct today, to the real natural belly lambs wool, to the artistic and creative imagination of the weaver.  These rugs are not expensive! They are really scratching the surface of this market's potential.

Just imagine if they were made in the USA, they would cost easily at least 5 times more across the board. Its our “now culture” here in the United States that somewhat takes them for granted. We all want immediate satisfaction and these rugs may not have all the perfect colors and tones that are suited for impeccably designed rooms or homes today. But what the rugs do offer is an incredible amount of character, warmth and ability to just transform a space unparalleled to anything else in the room. It's a rock solid start to a room, in Europe there are so many rugs that we get that have never been washed; this is due to the fact that their appreciation prevents them from washing rugs, with the wherewithal of knowing a rug cleaning is not like washing one’s bed sheets!


There ought to be some appreciation and a bit of reverence for rugs; they’re a bit taken for granted here today, probably because it's walked on under our feet.

They are windows to a bygone era, an art form that transcends globally. Perhaps weavers of the past would have considered making the rugs even stronger had they anticipated the use of powerful vacuums and our ever expanding waistlines! 

So with value, origin, workmanship,  and some extra appreciation in mind; a focus on quality is necessary to know which antique rugs are truly expensive.  Only certain types are growing substantially in popularity, oushak, heriz, serapi, kazak of proper vintage of at least 1910s or older; but there are exceptions to all types, as all types of rugs have incredible examples especially the older they get. The wow rugs are dwindling every year and are not leaving the estates or homes of fine families, the circulation is less and less. With this in mind there is a mission or almost like a duty to make sure the rugs are properly found and delivered to happy owners or caretakers.  

As far as the value of the rug, it needs to have some aesthetic appeal with a lovely coloration, a great design, and of course great age and condition. All of these factors into its worth, sometimes provenance also plays a role, having privy to owning rugs from such great estates such as the Rothschild family in France. Or antique silk rugs from the collection of Harry Houdini, as well as famed psychiatrist Simund Freud. These things of course all add value. 

Sigmund freud rug Then of course there are still plenty of grandma’s traditional old persian rugs like 1940s or 1950s Kermans which are still great candidates to get completely chemically killed and redyed, an ever so popular trend!


So why are antique rugs so expensive? Well, next time you see a new 10 x 14 rug that may possibly cost at least $5000 remember, remember the antique Heriz rug that you scoffed at for $20,000 is maybe 100 times the latter! You get what you pay for; the look is rare and more important than the actual look; it is the personal appreciation, which is more comforting knowing that you got something good and of value.

 Remember the values of antique navajos that are so basically made,  yet sought after as a national art form; this same appreciation for local art is happening everywhere including Iran, Turkey and places like China trying to recover their historic works that had been exported out for centuries. The rug market is truly global and prices are in fact rising as the clientele have demanded for more authentic and less cooking cutter replicas which are flooding the market. It's an exciting time as the antique rug market is just beginning to blossom. Please contact us here Nomads Loom to help carry on this conversation.  


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