Woven carpets are traditionally crafted in North Africa and many parts of Asia (usually known as oriental carpets) along the Silk Road, where they can be bought at a lower cost than in high-income countries.
|“||Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon another site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day's journey and difficult to reach.||”|
Traditional woolen carpets are woven from wool on a hand loom.
These are heavy. If you plan to bring home a room-sized carpet, be sure to check flight baggage allowance.
Silk carpets are small and rather expensive for their size. They are less durable than wool carpets, and should be placed where they are not worn down.
Turkey is rightly famous for its carpets, with rich regional varieties. Carpet weaving is often associated with the tradition of the Yörüks, nomadic Turkish clans which roamed (or, in a few cases, are still roaming) Anatolia for centuries.
- Istanbul — The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Sultanahmet has the richest collection of carpets in the world, with the oldest pieces in exhibit dating back to the 15th century. With many carpet shops, you may also want to have a stroll through the nearby Grand Bazaar, although this will inevitably be a touristy experience.
- Hereke — The huge carpets bedecking Istanbul's newer and European influenced palaces, which date back to the late years of the Ottoman Empire, came from this town's imperial factory, opened in 1841 and now a museum. Often dubbed the 'Ottoman Baroque', the style of the Hereke carpets differed from that of traditional designs.
- Bergama — No trip to ancient Pergamon is complete without visiting one of the many local carpet shops, which have regional products on offer. Decidedly away from the tourist trail, nearby Sındırgı is (relatively speaking) known for its Yağcıbedir rugs, honoured by an annual festival.
- Uşak — A major centre of carpet weaving since the 11th century, producing some of the finest Oriental rugs. The export to Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries was such a big business in this Western Anatolian town that its name, or rather its Anglicized form of Ushak, was a synonym for all Anatolian rugs, regardless of their origin.
- Milas — Taking full advantage of its Yörük roots and its proximity to Bodrum, one of Turkey's most favourite resorts with international holidaymakers, most travellers to the Turkish southwest will be familiar with this variant.
- Konya — The capital of the Seljuk Empire, preceeding the Ottomans, is famous with the style named after that empire. Mevlana Museum in the old town has a collection of the Seljuk carpets, mentioned by Marco Polo in 1292.
Persian carpets are one of Iran's leading cultural exports. The country has a history of carpet-making that spans 2,500 years.
- Tabriz — Tabriz rugs reached their zenith in the 12th-16th centuries.
- Kashan — renowned for its silk carpets.
- Heris — Heris/Heriz rugs often have bold, geometric designs.
- Isfahan and the nearby town of Na'in — famously finely-woven rugs
As usual for craft shopping, items are cheaper in the small towns where they are made, than in cosmopolitan cities.
Haggling is customary for these kinds of affairs.