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Persian Carpets / Rugs

Persian rugs or Persian carpets? Iranian rugs or Iranian carpets.
Where do they stand today?

In this short note we use "
carpet" and "rug" interchangeably and do not bother
getting involved with different definitions scholars may have for each word. We also
use
Iranian rugs and Persian rugs interchangeably, although there maybe more
cultural and historical values attached to the word "
Persian rug".

We will pay attention to historical background of Persian carpet in another part, so
here, we write a bit about present status of the Iranian carpet industry.

Handmade carpet production in Iran goes back to the history, of which is not the
subject of this short paper and presentation.
Carpet production and in general
carpet culture especially in rural areas is combined and mixed with every-day life of
many people. In rural places, almost all the women know how to make
carpets.
They learn this from their mother and grow up with it.  Many of them
weave the
carpets
to take to their new homes when they get married. In Iran, carpet is not a mere
commodity. It has different cultural, artistic, and historical heritage attached to it.

National Statistics

The population of Iran is about 70 million. In Iran, there are around 1,200,000
looms scattered in 27,000 villages and 210 cities, on which 2,200,000 weavers
work. Roughly, 300,000 people work in the related fields such as artistic work, wool
preparing and
spinning, dyeing, repairing, washing, exporting, transporting
and etc.

Persian carpet export value in the year 2002,  was USD 517,000,000, which
showed almost 1% decrease to the year before which was USD 522,000,000. In this
year, 5,920,000 square meters of
handmade Persian rugs were exported from
Iran. One square meter of exported
Iranian carpet was priced USD 83.00 at
customs
wholesale price.  In the year 2003, the export value of handmade carpet
was USD 573,000,000 which showed almost 11% increase compared to the
previous year. In 2003, 5,728,000 square meters of
handmade carpets were
exported from Iran. One square meter of exported
Iranian carpet was priced USD
100 in 2003. Table 1 shows the value of
Iranian carpet export in US Dollar for the
past few years.

Handmade Persian carpet is the highest source of foreign exchange earning for
Iran after oil. The most important aspect is not the value, but the employment which
carpet sector provides as a job, and in most of the cases as a complementary
income for the housewives and the families.
World Market

Oriental rugs in the world market. Based on the statistics I received from the
International Trade Center affiliated to the United Nations, in the year 2001, Iran had
30% of the total world market share. India with 18%, China with 12%, Pakistan with
11%, Nepal with 6%, and Turkey with 5 % share ranked respectively. Table two,
presents some statistics on this matter. The total export of
handmade carpet for
the year 2001 experienced 11 % decrease.
In the year 2001, the United States of America imported more handmade carpets
than any other country with 33 % of the world import. Germany, with 24 %, and
Japan with 5 % of the world import, ranked next. Table three, takes a closer look at
these data.
It can be seen that the total value of the handmade carpet import in the year
2001, decreased by 9 % compared to the previous year.
This Table presents some statistics on the American market and shows that the
import of rugs & other floor coverings has increased over the past three years
for which  different reasons maybe submitted. One may argue that this increase is
because of the rise in the prices in the
carpet exporting countries. It can be
argued that more people are buying carpets including the younger generation,
although they have different tastes compared to former generation which liked
classic designs and different color combination.

Rug market. What Are the Latest Developments?

Persian rug production has undergone some changes. In the recent years in Iran,
there has been a growing attention paid to natural dyes and handspun wool. This
has been because of the infrastructure set up by some good dyers and producers
such as Abbas Sayahi, and Miri Brothers which have two dying workshops in Fars
Province outside the city of Shiraz. Sayahi’s workshop is big and he is a
knowledgeable person who loves to teach the tricks. Miri’s is unique in a way it is
modern and produces natural colors based on scientific research. Each shade has
a file which will be kept for future use to produce the same color.

There are several producers in other parts of Iran who are producing
new or old
designs
of Iranian rugs with handspun wool and vegetal dyes. Mustafa Gholizade,
a collectioner from the city of Bakhshayesh, a town near Tabriz, has put his
collection aside and reproduces old design Bakhshayesh carpets in American
standard sizes with handspun wool and vegetal dye. Mobasheri & Son based in
Tehran and several others  also reproduce old
Zigler designs in new color
combinations and new sizes. Derakhshan & Son, Zollanvari & Son, and many others
are producing this new wave of
Persian carpets which carry the originality blended
with the new color tastes of the consumers here in the West. Sobhe Trading also
produces few products, of which its “Varamin Collection” has received a very warm
reception from the customers in Europe and in the US. These carpets are produced
with handspun wool and vegetal dye in the city of Varamin, 50 kilometer southeast
of Tehran. Most of the sizes match the American standard sizes. Varamin had a very
fine history of
carpet production in the past.

More
rug and carpet dealers and scholars go to Iran these days and they have
been also encouraging the Iranian producers and exporters to make more
carpets
with handspun wool and vegetable colors. Some of German and
American carpet
companies have also entered into joint-venture with their Iranian counterparts. The
non-Iranian companies can provide the market information and employ modern
sales techniques. Their Iranian colleague can also program and produce the
carpets which meet the customer's needs and demands.

By Dr. Khosrow Sobhe
Table 1, Persian Carpet Export, 1998-2003
Year
Value $
Change
1998
570
 
1999
691
+ 21%
2000
581
- 15%
2001
522
- 10%
2002
517
- 1%
2003
573
+ 11%
Table 2, Handmade Carpet Export and the Market Share
The Year 2001
Country
$ 1,000
Compare to the
year 2000
World market
share (%)
World
1,759,855
- 11 %
100
Iran
537,243
- 17 %
30
India
330,245
-   6 %
18
China
227,111
-   9 %
12
Pakistan
211,089
-   3 %
11
Nepal
116,430
- 17 %
6
Turkey
97,957
0 %
5
Table 3, Handmade Carpet Import and the Market Share
The Year 2002
Country
$ 1,000
Compare to the
year 2000
World Market
Share (%)
World
1,631,538
- 9 %
100
America
540,521
- 8 %
33
Germany
407,873
- 8 %
24
Japan
82,680
- 15 %
5
Italy
67,625
- 23 %
4
Britain
66,769
- 4 %
3
United Arab
Emirates
48,383
+ 6 %
2
Switzerland
46,188
- 4 %
2
France
45,008
- 4 %
2
Canada
30,007
- 15 %
1
Rugs and other textile floor coverings imports to the U.S. (million
dollars)
Year

Country
2000
2001
2002
2003
Total
Iran

Share
114
14%
112
14%
123
14%
130
13%
479
13.7%
India

Share
354
42%
324
41%
385
43%
424
44%
1,487
42.5%
Pakistan

Share
105
12%
95
12%
97
11%
99
11%
396
11.3%
China

Share
218
26%
218
28%
256
29%
280
29%
972
27.8%
Turkey

Share
52
6%
39
5%
33
3%
41
4%
165
4.7%
Total
843
788
894
974
3,499