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Sunday, March 13, 2005


Carpet Buying Revelation

It's been four months since I've bought a carpet and I desperately need one in my new office. I paid a visit to my main man, Ruslan, who operates Flying Carpet Shop in an underground stone room in the 16th century Hamman (bathhouse) in Baku's Old City.

Ruslan is carpet dealer to most US Embassy staff and US NGO workers here. Initially, I was skeptical. With a client base like this, he hasn't got much incentive to bargain.

Ruslan earned my slavish devotion during a negotiation session when I first arrived. He wanted $650 for two pieces -- a Guba carpet and a Dagestan sumac. I wanted to pay around $500, so I offered $450. He took me aside and quietly punched in three numbers on his calculator --$425.

Never in the history of carpet bargaining has such an effective sales tactic been employed. I wouldn't have been more surprised if he had offered me a vial of crack.

Which, in effect, he did.

Since then, I have sent every visiting friend and casual acquaintance to Ruslan. He pays me back with rock-bottom prices and a keen sense of what I like. He doesn't waste my time showing me Iranian, Afghan or Turkmen samples that he knows aren't as nice as ones I could get in-country.

Besides, he hates Iranian carpets.

"Most Iranians are Farsi," he says with a sneer. "They know nothing about carpets. Its the 30 million Azeris that live in Iran that make good carpets." He's probably right, except for 30 million number.

Azeri carpets are an acquired taste. I have taken to them like an addict to crystal meth. I purposely avoid the quarter of the Old City that holds Ruslan's shop. His sales techniques are never aggressive, but highly effective.

Yesterday was the first time I've walked in with the intention of buying without actually having done so. Ruslan good naturedly accepted my ambivalence about his current stock and promised to call me when something he thinks I'll like comes in.

Ruslan has a lot of excellent quality new carpets. The knots are tight, colors pleasing and patterns traditional. They are also more expensive because they are made in "factories" (which are probably a single room with a few women sitting at looms all day, getting paid to weave carpets).

These carpets are lovely, but they lack something.

The ones I like tend to be homemade. They might have looser knots and may not lie exactly flat. Their patterns are uneven and don't always match up. They are made, as Ruslan says, "after dark, when the children and the husband are asleep and the woman has time to sit at a loom to make carpet for her daughter's dowry or her son's wife when she moves into the home."

Then, depending on the audience, he launches into his rapturous finale. "These carpets are made with LOVE!" I have seen this technique melt certain visitors.

That's why I think I like my Guba carpet the least. Technically, it's an excellent piece, but it was factory-made and lacks character. My carpet from Lankoran is my favorite, even though its edges bunch up and trip me, it's missing fringe and the animals in its pattern are misshapen. But every time I look at it, I see something new.

I prefer to buy carpets from the people who make them, but most of the time that's not practical. Last fall, however, I managed to buy the horse blanket pictured below from the woman who made it in the mountain village of Lahic. I just got the roll of film with her photo developed.

As soon as the snow melts, I want to go up to Lahic and see what she's been working on all winter.

I am from Lahic .I can make a carpet myself.Now I am in Baku if you want to write me -my e-mail address-billurab@yahoo.com
If you want i can help you.My name Biilura.I will wait your answer -billurab@yahoo.com
Dear All!
I am Ruslan.I am from Lahij.I am working in Baku.You can contact me:
It si Ruslan here now.Closed to you:
Ruslan From Lahij:
Ruslan is from Lahij.But he is in Baku now:
The best Iranian carpets now is from Tabriz (Azeris) and Qom (Persian speaking or as Ruslan sneeringly wants to call them: Farsi). Two Decades ago the best carpet of Iran was from Kerman (Persian speaking).
Azeri carpets in Iran are artistically as Iranian as most other carpets of that land are. They call it Persian carpet (Persian here means Iranian) in the world. Persian carpet has been the most famous carpet of the world during ages even when Tabriz carpets in Iran was not the best ones.
Persian (Farsi) speaking people of Iran share much of their culture with Azeris in Iran whether Ruslan dislikes it or not. Their cuisines, festivals, way of living, how they express themselves in language, ... are very much similar whether ultranationalists and racists dislike them or not.
Lahic (where you bought your carpet from) inhabitants use an ancient Persian-based (farsi-based) language called Lahic.

Please inform Ruslan if you may.
And if you'll trip to Lahic again and see people speak Azeri Turkish there, don't surprize, please go ask from older people what their local and ancestor's language is. Iranian languages (related to Persian or Farsi) in Azerbaijan is dying excpet e.g. Talish.
Hey evrybody must understand that Lahij played very big rol for generation of Iran.Please think the people found some copperthings from Lahij and there is date on it.And it says that it is 4000 years old./But Iran can never be like that old.And now we are speaking Lahij language - mean Ruslan is true so there is one article in Lahij Language An or han it means they theirs.So the name of oldest city in Iran is LAHIJAN it means Lahij people.So Lahij people rroduced Iran.It is fact.I would never say the word if i am not sure.
Thank you for reading!!!!
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