Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Talk about the forum & website, off-topic chatter, etc.
Gilgamesh
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:16 pm
x 4

Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Gilgamesh » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:43 pm

Now being a "real" traveler, I would only set looking for memories, photos, and friends. I go light -- in what I carry and my footprint, and try to live in sync with the people in the places I go. "Stuff" just isn't that important, plus I want to be careful not to spend the kind of money that really highlights how I come from somewhere else.

All that said, they make some nice carpets in Central Asia. Years ago, visiting Turkmenistan, I purchased a 2 sq. meter carpet. I had no intention of doing so going in, and didn't actually have a home at that time. But something connected for me, something tying the item to the place. Now I'm considering a return to the region, to Turkmenistan specifically. This time, however, I would be avoiding Ashgabat and going in and out of Lebap Province through Farap-Alat. Given the paperwork required, I believe this will make it impossible to buy a carpet in Turkmenistan. That's too bad, because I've seen many, and these are really the only ones I noticed.

As an interesting side note, as a traveler, I've had people try to sell me carpets in any number of places. It helps to know a little bit, like seeing through it when someone shows you an acrylic one, claiming it's hand-knotted and silk. Also as a westerner, there's an assumption I want an antique rug. This isn't so hard to simulate with chemicals and dragging behind a truck, plus anything becomes an antique if you can wait long enough. There's also an assumption I want a very fine carpet, something large and silk, because of where I come from. It's hard to get across that all I'd only want a wool "village" carpet, not a "palace" one.

I think it would be interesting for people on this forum to share any carpet and carpet buying experiences they had in Central Asia. My assumptions are that the closer you get to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, or Iran, the closer you are to the heart of it. I don't expect that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan would be great. Uzbekistan could have promise, and rugs coming over the border from Turkmenistan, but I'd expect the prices to be multiplied in the Bukhara old city.

What do I know though? I bought one small carpet in a state store in Ashgabat, that I lugged around and actually slept on a number of times. It did its nomad duty, and I grew fond of it. I'd love to hear what others can share...
0 x

Seradane
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:33 pm
x 1
x 13

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Seradane » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:00 pm

We've just purchased a beautiful Shyrdak, which is a felt carpet from Kyrgyzstan. I started this trip with the intention of buying a classic Persian rug when we got to Iran, but we really found ourselves taken by the character of the shyrdaks and so have gone and spent my carpet budget here instead! :lol:

Now we are faced with the prospect of lugging it around for six more weeks (and at 9kg and as big as one of our backpacks this is not likely to be fun) or find some way of shipping it back without paying as much as th carpet is worth in shipping costs :?

As far as buying experiences, we decided to purchase from a community women's collective store so although potentially not the cheapest price ever, we had some assurances it was decent quality and the money was mostly going back to the communities who actually made the thing. I suspect there are less pitfalls with purchasing shyrdaks than your traditional oriental rugs.

We haven't yet been to the big bazaars in Bishkek but the only oriental carpets we've seen in Kyrgyzstan have been ones owned by local families and to be honest mostly looked like cheap factory outputs, so I wouldn't come here to buy a knotted rug. Didn't see any at all in Kazakhstan. We're yet to visit further south so can't speak for those ones yet.
0 x

Gilgamesh
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:16 pm
x 4

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Gilgamesh » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:32 pm

First off, congratulations on your new carpet (i.e., shyrdak). Having been shown a few rugs in my travels, mainly just for the experience of it with no real compunction to buy, my counter to the seller has often been something to the effect of "It's very nice, but not for me. I see a carpet as a new member of the family." But you know what you like when you see it -- that's why it's tough to give a typical price for a carpet -- so if you're happy with it, no doubt it's great.

I see you're thinking about shipping it back. This is something I have no experience with, as I bought one in Turkmenistan just small enough to lug around. My guess is you'll get the best rate in either Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, likely in a larger city, presumably with a large airport and established shipping routes. At 9kg, it may be a solution will be forced on you sooner rather than later. It may be you ship it back from a DHL in Bishkek or Tashkent. It'll cost more, but with that comes greater security it'll arrive on the other end; plus you won't need to lug it around any further. Good luck. I've heard of some bartering with the shipping cost included, but at a women's collective likely the prices were fixed, with -- as you wrote -- more likelihood your money is going back into the community.

I, and presumably others, will be curious to hear what you see as you move through the region -- just a general sense of carpets, prices, and the overall scene. I have a theory I'd like to test that Turkmenistan is the sweet spot -- in Iran you'll see higher prices, and as you go north you move away from the hand knotted carpet making heart. I've wondered how many Turkmen carpets you see in southern Uzbekistan. Let us know what you see in the rest of your trip.

Personally, looking at a near future trip coming down from Astana to Tashkent, spending about a day each in Samarkand and Bukhara, then a quick trip in Turkmenistan's Lebap Province. If I recall correctly, any carpet you buy needs to come from the state approved store in Ashgabat; otherwise it needs to come to Ashgabat anyway, to be inspected and certified, at some cost. There are also additional charges based on size. It's been over a decade now since I bought a rug in Ashgabat, back during the time of Turkmenbashi and the old manat, so things might have changed and become a more expensive proposition.

Anyway, let us know what you do with your shyrdak -- or just how much you enjoy carrying it around -- and share what you observe as your travels take you south.
0 x

User avatar
steven
Admin
Admin
Posts: 3658
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:32 pm
x 3012
x 399

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby steven » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:11 am

Hi Seradane,

you can send it home with a shipping company like DHL. Not sure about the price, though!

You were right to buy it from the women's collectives: the bazaar carpets are very low quality. They actually glue them together instead of sowing them together.
0 x
If you like Caravanistan: we have opened a tip jar! We love you back! :D

Gilgamesh
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:16 pm
x 4

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Gilgamesh » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:58 pm

Just to add on about two things:

1. Seradane, keep us posted. We'll be curious to see what solution you came up with for shipping your carpet, and what else you see as you head south.

2. Steven makes a good point about bazaar carpets. This would be a good topic for others to post on any similar collectives or community-based cooperatives that make carpets or other similar traditional crafts. Not only as a quality issue, but such that the money you spend can help support.
0 x

Seradane
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:33 pm
x 1
x 13

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Seradane » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:06 am

I ended up shipping the carpet with Kazpost in Shymkent as it was a bit cheaper than Kyrgyzstan and seemed reliable enough (well fingers crossed, we will see if it turns up!).

Will let you know what I see as we continue through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran - although I suspect my partner might get a bit nervous if I start asking too much about carpet prices! :lol:
1 x

Gilgamesh
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:16 pm
x 4

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Gilgamesh » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:38 pm

Seradane --

I was glad to hear in the related thread that your carpet arrived safe and sound. This is great information, and thanks for posting.

On a semi-related note, have you been tempted to buy another one? I'm very curious what you've seen over the past few months regarding carpets for sale, the places you've passed through that seem good to shop for one -- having good selections, seeming cheaper or more reputable, etc.

Actually I'm curious too how your trip is going... or went. It does get warm in the summer over much of that part of the world...
0 x

Uncle_Iroh
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:17 am
x 3
x 7

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Uncle_Iroh » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:06 am

I'm also planning on buying a carpet (or 2) in Turkmenistan. Does anybody know how much is the going rate?
0 x

Uncle_Iroh
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:17 am
x 3
x 7

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Uncle_Iroh » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:12 am

Thought I post on update on this. :D

I bought a couple of handwoven wool carpets in Turkmenistan. Both are 3 square meters; price range was 300-500 USD each. The seller already had the necessary documents prepared and agreed to send the carpets via Turkmenistan Post for 100 USD each.

I bought them in the gift store of the Grand Turkmen Hotel. The Carpet Museum was selling similar-sized carpets for more than 1,000 USD each. In Bukhara and Samarkand, 1 square meter sells for around 500 USD.
2 x

Tresco
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:36 pm

Re: Buying a Carpet in Central Asia

Postby Tresco » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:05 pm

Hi everyone,

I will be traveling this summer to Iran - Mashad, crossing to Turkmenistan via Sarakhs/Sarahs and continuing to Uzbekistan via Köneürgench.
I keep readying that Turkmenistan is one of THE countries to buy carpets, yet I find it extreme difficulty to find info about where to buy, how to obtain the clearance from the Gov., place with the biggest offering etc...
Any recommendation where to see different types of carpets in a reasonable amount and potentially buy? Range of prices approx.?

I got acquainted last year on my trip to Iran with very specific type of carpet - at that time it was said to me that it is a special weaving technic from Sarakhs/Sarahs. The carpet is a reversible silk carpet, containing on each side a different design and colours.
Does any one know if in fact they type of carpets come from Sarakhs/Sarahs? Any chance anyone knows if any workshop is open to the public and sell directly to tourists?

Thanks in advance!
0 x


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post
  • Sending a Carpet to U.K. from Central Asia
    by Seradane » Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:46 pm » in General
    4
    1989
    by Seradane View the latest post
    Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:34 pm
  • CENTRAL ASIA-- SIM CARD
    by travelbug121 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:42 am » in Itineraries & trip reports
    7
    1663
    by minavagante View the latest post
    Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:15 pm
  • Central Asia Planning
    by masonkrueger » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:18 am » in General
    3
    304
    by bwv812 View the latest post
    Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:20 am
  • Car advice Central Asia
    by Toekan » Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:31 pm » in Roads, borders and security updates
    13
    5517
    by eurasiaoverland View the latest post
    Tue May 02, 2017 3:55 pm
  • Money in central asia - ATM?
    by leaveyanalone » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:03 am » in Itineraries & trip reports
    15
    5360
    by seysearles View the latest post
    Thu May 11, 2017 7:55 am

Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest