Exotic handwoven carpets made their way around the globe in the 1600s, when the British and Dutch were prowling Persia, Turkey, India, and beyond, and were so prized in 19th-century America that they were kept off the floor and draped over tables. Factories were soon making copies. Today, however, handmade rugs are again in demand—and benefiting from a revival of the craft in traditional rug-making areas, where the cost of skilled labor is low. Consider these two—both made in India for a longtime importer—which use a design inspired by antique rugs from central Persia (now Iran). The high-end version has more than a million handmade knots, while the other is tufted in much less time with the help of handheld tufting guns. For more of the back story, read on.
"Before you buy, read up. Oriental Carpets by Jon Thompson is the best book to start with. Then ask around to find a reputable dealer who can advise you."
—Walter B. Denny, professor of art history, University of Massachusetts Amherst