Purchasing Antique Rugs

Antique Persian and Tribal Rugs as an Art Investment


KARACHOV KAZAK, Southern Central Caucasian

A rare Caucasian Karachov Kazak, 6 ft x 7 ft 10in, circa 1850

“The finest antique carpets have been a form of international currency since Marco Polo introduced the first rugs he brought from “the Orient” to the Italian aristocracy at the end of the 13th century. Thus the term “oriental rugs” was adapted. There are connoisseur-level buyers seeking out the finest rugs in virtually every country of the world, so trading the best antique rugs is tantamount to trading fine paintings or other works of art.”

“Regardless of the region in which they were made, investment-level rugs were created as entirely individual artistic expressions. Whether they were produced in city workshops, as part of the cottage industry of the smaller towns and villages or in isolated nomadic encampments, they represent the consummate achievement of only the most dexterous and sensitive weavers. They usually are virtuoso adaptations of the traditional designs, color palette and structure characteristic of that particular region.”

There are a few vital attributes that an antique carpet must have to be considered investment-level. It must utilize a harmonious palette of colors created from pure, natural dyes, exclusively. The materials must be of the finest quality. The wool must be lustrous, luminous and elastic, meaning it should be soft and feel like what it is — an alive material. Uniqueness and rarity are both central. The individual stamp of the particular weaver or weavers should be abundantly present.”

“The most important aspect is also the most intangible — to be considered investment-level, an antique rug must possess a stirring magnitude of artistry, a level of beauty that is literally breathtaking. At the presence of a true art carpet, the viewer is silenced, in awe of something that emanates a profound level of balance and harmony.”

“In most cases, I find that to be considered investment-level, the carpet should be a true antique, that is more than 100 years old. Frankly, only an extremely small percentage of the 100-200 year old Persian and tribal antique carpets that are available are what I specialize in. As a life-long investor, I have experienced that highly unique pieces I bought 20 to 30 years ago have increased in value many-fold. The extremely rare 17th and 18th century pieces in my own private collection have literally skyrocketed. As the demand for the best 19th-century antiques continues to escalate and their already very limited availability dwindles further, the next decade should be infinitely more exciting than even the past 30 years have been.”

– From a lecture given to a group of connoisseurs, November 21, 2012

Jan David Winitz, President and Founder of Claremont Rug Company in Oakland, CA, has built a global reputation among carpet collectors and connoisseurs since he founded the company at age 25 in 1980.