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Age...Color...Condition...Weave...Imagery This is a five word recipe for those in the market for a truly unique, one-ofa-kind antique rug that will 'set off' a room or complete a collection that just isn't 'finished' without the right piece.

According to the professionals at Oriental Secrets in Whitefish, Montana, many people do not realize that inexpensive rugs can truly be called Oriental rugs. 'Oriental' defines the rug as being hand-knotted or hand tied of wool from the Near, Middle or Far East. Wool, and sometimes silk, are the natural fiber used in tying thousands of knots on an upright or horizontal loom to bring the rug to completion. An Oriental rug's beauty is based on its color harmony and balance, design intricacy, clarity of design, texture, and yarn patina. These elements are what give an Oriental rug an inviting, soft appeal. Amidst the global financial calamity (says the Wall Street Journal), art collectors are once again scouring the marketplace for new areas to tap into. Pastoral landscapes and gilded table clocks, and antiques that once would have been too haughty for high spending art collectors have emerged as some of the market's newest favorites. Buyers who bid up trendy contemporary art during the boom, only to see them plummet in value during the recession, are now seeking more obscure pieces whose values could rise with a market upswing. A patchwork of global collectors and institutions are fueling the rise. New museums across the Middle East and Europe are driving up prices as they 406

WOMAN 56   

Written by Mike Hodges

build collections of Islamic art. Contemporary art buyers from Singapore to Silicon Valley are rolling out antique rugs to complement the abstract, geometric art works that hang on their walls. Everyone is on the lookout for the next little noticed niche of the market that could see a spike in value.

According to Jon Thompson, a British rug scholar, rugs are typically classified by the circumstances in which they were made. Whether they are hand-woven by tribal nomads, crafted in a village or city, or woven on looms in a royal workshop, all determine where rugs are classified or ranked. Prices tend to rise along the same lines. Those woven either by tribes or in villages, are on the lower end of the scale, commanding prices anywhere from $2,500 to $300,000. Persian court rugs, made in royal workshops during the 15th & 16th centuries, featuring pastel, botanical designs, are particularly popular with collectors of Impressionist art. These rugs are priced in the millions!

There is a lot to be educated on: Age, color, condition, weave, and imagery. Another way consumers are misled is when they are told that a rug design has artistic significance. Oriental Secrets recommends you respond by asking, "Is this a genuine hand-knotted Oriental-style where this design is an important aspect?" If the rug is actually a reproduction rug (meaning an Oriental-style or an Oriental-design-type rug), this 'design significance' discussion is strictly academic and very misleading--certainly not adding

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