Buying Kilims

 
Shopping should be fun, especially for such delightful items as kilim rugs, but everyone knows that at times it can be an ordeal. Occasions which can make shopping unpleasant include having to deal with the proverbial "rug merchant", an individual whose salesmanship is based on wearing down the prospective buyer's resistance with persuasive persistence. This type of smooth-talking seller ("I can sell snow to an Eskimo") is encountered in many a shop, but not on an Internet shopping facility where you are free to browse anytime, night or day, without any unwanted intrusive attention.

Another factor that often detracts from the pleasure of shopping is summarized by the plaintive cry "Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!", the familiar wail of the overwhelmed shopper who may well be in need of some knowledgeable advice. This is where we can be of help, not by trying to persuade you to buy any particular item but by pointing out some of the criteria you may wish to consider while making your own informed choice.

Kilim connoisseurs and collectors clearly have their own requirements and priorities since they may specialize in kilim rugs from a particular region, by type of weave or some other parameter, so the considerations we have outlined below may not be of specific interest to them; we nevertheless invite them to comment and share their thoughts on the subject through our Feedback section.

So how do you choose a kilim rug?
 

Buying kilims

The most striking and romantic way in through irresistible attraction. A certain kilim rug makes you gasp and…it's love at first sight. If this happens in a real-world rug shop, be sure to conceal your feelings under a mask of only peripheral interest because the sales staff is uncannily attuned to your reactions and an adoring look can cost you dearly. The quoted price is sure to be raised and your bargaining power will be reduced. This is not a problem in Internet shopping and you are free to gush with delight at the kilim image on your computer screen assured of privacy, though you may say that seeing a photo of a kilim rug is not the same as handling one. True, but please remember that many a happy marriage came about as a result of a look at a picture.

The criteria you may want to consider, however, are not intended for use in circumstances of such instant infatuation but rather in the course of a more usual kilim shopping expedition, in which case the reasons for buying are either to fulfill a functional need or an esthetic decorative desire, or frequently both.


"...very harmonious effects can also be achieved by matching the subsidiary kilim colors to the subsidiary scheme of the room."

From the esthetic point of view, harmony and contrast are the two basic principles generally followed by interior designers. In our case the concept of harmony requires that the colors of a kilim rug blend in with the overall color scheme. This is usually achieved if at least one of the colors in a kilim rug is also present elsewhere in the room. Although in common practice it is the principal colors in a kilim rug that are regarded as candidates for matching, very harmonious effects can also be achieved by matching the subsidiary kilim colors to the subsidiary scheme of the room. However, the dominant kilim color can also be matched to good effect with subsidiary room colors, so the underlying principle is to have at least one kilim color in common with a color in the room.

If, on the other hand, you are fond of contrasts, a bright kilim rug can be an ideal counterpoint in a room whose predominant color scheme is soft, while a pastel-hued kilim rug will provide this contrasting effect in surroundings of deep, rich shades. A subtle and sophisticated application of the principle of contrast can also be obtained by introducing a kilim rug with colors starkly different than those of the venue being decorated but also containing a deeper, more full-bodied hue of the prevailing softer room color.

 

Buying kilims

The versatility of kilim rugs and the variety of their designs and colors are the characteristics that make them especially attractive and adaptable for countless applications in home decoration. An antique or particularly handsome kilim rug can be the focal point of room décor, while smaller ones can provide just the right accents to liven up or enrich the surroundings. Among the multitude of designs, colors and sizes available, there are kilim rugs to fit practically any style of furnishings, be it Scandinavian, Classical, modern or rustic, and the uses they can be put to are myriad. Kilim rugs can be used as floor coverings, wall-hangings, spreads over pieces of furniture, tablecloths, bedspreads or as cushion covers, to name just a few of their uses. Furthermore, they can be used to good effect not only in homes but also in places of work which they can enhance immeasurably by taking the edge off the usual formality of an office.


It is probably needless to say that you would not want to place an antique or an old and fragile kilim rug where it would be trod upon since such rare pieces deserve protection and are often hung on walls in lieu of paintings. So when you consider buying any particular kilim rug it is best to think of it not only for one specific place or use that may initially come to mind. For example, as a first step, mentally put the piece on the floor where you originally thought it may fit, then, perhaps, drape it over a sofa, then imagine it hanging on a wall, or picture it in some other location. Such a mental exercise can be great fun and you may reward yourself with a cry of "Eureka!" when you find the perfect spot for a piece that at first seems somewhat attractive but gains enormously by proper placement, thereby achieving a stunning effect overall. Also to be remembered is that every kilim rug, however it is placed or used, introduces into the surroundings a whole exotic world of cultures that are being slowly extinguished by the remorseless grind of industrialization; it is, of itself, a piece of ancient traditions.

"...the cardinal rule is to trust your own sense of style, your own feeling for the appropriate and the beautiful...."

Other than the general principles of harmony and contrast outlined above, and the considerations for the use and placement of kilim rugs, there are many other maxims for décor propriety, some put forward by aspiring arbiters of taste, others aired by eager merchandise promoters. But the cardinal rule we suggest you go by is to trust your own sense of style, your own feeling for the appropriate and the beautiful. You can become explicitly aware of this intuitive power of yours as you browse through our collection of kilim rugs, because if you stop and reflect as you look at each item, most likely you will catch yourself mentally fitting that item into the existing décor of the various rooms in your home or office. As you do this, your perception of the whole will be telling you how well it would or wouldn't fit in the overall scheme - believe it.


 
 

In addition to the subjective esthetic considerations, the kilim buyer will also be interested in its quality, provenance, age and price, aspects which appear to be more precise and quantifiable, although, except for price, can be perplexing enough to be a problem for all but a true expert. Some authorities suggest that "careful observation and common sense with a little basic information and experience" are sufficient to assess quality. While this might be enough to recognize an item of obviously poor quality, even those who propose this approach admit that "the overall quality of a kilim always has to be taken on trust" ("Kilims, A Buyer's Guide" by Lee Allane). Determining the provenance and age of a kilim rug is even more difficult, especially if the buyer is at the mercy of an unscrupulous but persuasive seller. While tidbits of information that help to recognize quality, provenance or age may be somewhat useful to a prospective buyer, they may arm him or her with only apparent expertise which can easily lead to overconfidence and error - so our best advice is to rely on reputable, trustworthy suppliers. This recommendation is not made lightly, or to avoid sharing with you the means to attain the necessary expertise, but an exhaustive survey of authoritative sources shows that virtually every expert offers assessment guidelines surrounded by so many caveats and exceptions as to make a sound evaluation based on them very difficult.
 

"...unless you already have the expertise, or are willing to wait with your kilim purchase until you accumulate it personally, you must have trust in your interlocutor."

The experts' caution, the unwillingness to go out on a limb to provide a set of incontrovertible instructions is, therefore, understandable and justifiable, since it would mean trying to transmit to the reader in the brief space of a few book or Internet pages a huge store of knowledge and experience accumulated over many, many years - a real 'mission impossible'. Consequently, unless you already have the expertise, or are willing to wait with your kilim purchase until you accumulate it personally, you must have trust in your interlocutor.


The remaining criterion in the buying process is price, and here there is no question that the laws of supply and demand govern the price of kilim rugs just as much as they govern the price of other similar commodities. We know that prices at the source are more advantageous than in a Fifth Avenue boutique, and that antique or rare pieces command higher prices, the latter closely associated with scarcity of supply. It is also well known that in the bazaars of producing countries, and in many retail outlets the world over, prices initially quoted bear little resemblance to those finally agreed upon, so the inveterate traveler or someone living where there are many kilim rug dealers should devote time to comparative shopping before deciding on a purchase. Today, however, the Internet and widespread globetrotting habits have greatly intensified competitive pressures, thereby helping to reduce prices to minimally profitable levels.

So what should you pay for a kilim rug?

There is such a range of kilim rugs, old and new, that the price you should pay depends on the amount you wish to spend, i.e. your kilim budget. Whatever your budget, look at kilim rugs in the price range you can afford, and evaluate the item you are considering to buy not just as you would a thing of utility but also as a thing of intrinsic beauty and ancient heritage. Antique, old or otherwise rare pieces sought by collectors will undoubtedly have correspondingly high price tags, but, like all rarities, they are likely to have high resale value and may even be a good investment.

Much has been written about how to find kilim bargains, how to haggle with merchants, or how some wholesalers try to influence prices by purchasing large quantities from producers and withholding goods from the market. However, though founded on historical fact, all of such "insider tips" are only marginally useful in today's world of the Internet where prices are posted for all to see and compare.