How long do Persian carpets last

The Persian has been better off. For once, this has nothing to do with an American president or with politics in general, but with our changing fashions and quirks. For decades, the hand-knotted piece was regarded as a sign of sophisticated living culture, as evidence of taste and cosmopolitanism - and for some even as the most beautiful form of investment. Past.

If you click your way through online sales portals, you can buy tons of "100 percent real, hand-knotted" silk carpets in one evening. Wonderful pieces bob around, splendid patterns and fabulous color combinations. Some even "very clean" and guaranteed not from a smoker or animal household. It does not help. Even traditional shops made a name for themselves in the city centers with discounts, total sales or business closures. What has happened there?

Apparently, the good old oriental carpet has lost its value as well as its reputation. And that is certainly not due to its knot density or its excellent properties. Anyone who has ever walked across a bare floor or a Persian on a winter's day knows how well a carpet insulates against the cold and even feels that it improves the indoor climate. "Where your carpet is, there is your home" is a Persian proverb for a reason. Actually perfect for the age of nomads who quickly tuck a notebook under their arm and a toothbrush.

Light, moisture, bugs and vacuum cleaners that are too powerful - the enemies of a good oriental carpet are numerous. This also includes pets, as Gerhard Polt demonstrated so inimitably in his dog sketch: "Yes, Hindemith, are you going away from the Persian!" The good piece has apparently not recovered from that. Quickly googled "Persian carpet" on the internet - and the suggestion is "stuffy". The piece of jewelery is too closely associated with a generation who liked to drag a piece like this home from vacation trips - or two or three at the same time. Because holiday stories that start with "do you remember?" started. It's amazing what the word "Persian carpet" still triggers. A souq rises before us, including Aladdin and his adventures from the Arabian Nights. We instinctively know: now we have to act. How haggling works properly is explained by Ralph Caspers in the "Sendung mit der Maus" on a carpet: extremely polite and with a cup of tea. Good business is just one thing that benefits both sides.

The number of long-distance trips is increasing and interest in oriental carpets is falling - not for the first time. The strange career of the commodity, which can so easily be made small, begins in antiquity. Even the Greeks mention the beautiful and practical floor decorations of the Persians. However, it was not so much the Turks outside Vienna who ultimately brought the carpet to the West than clever merchants who recognized how to make money with exotic motifs and imaginative imagery. The world exhibitions of the 19th century fueled the demand for foreign goods. Suddenly the Persian was in vogue. At this time, large carpet manufacturers emerged in order to be able to meet the many requests for genuine, hand-knotted pieces. The First World War put an end to the boom in Europe, the Great Depression ended the triumphant advance in the United States. But only temporarily. In 1935, Reza Shah nationalized foreign carpet manufacturers. The Iran Carpet Company took over the production, which continued to be sold worldwide. The Persians flourished in the sixties and seventies of the last century, when affluent Westerners once again succumbed to the magic of the exotic and perfect handicraft. But at some point the boom was broken. Dusty motifs and a lack of collectors - this is not a good connection for a craftsmanship that is under pressure from cheap imports and mechanical processes. Modern carpet designers have taken their place, such as Jan Kath from Bochum or Nani Marquina from Barcelona, ​​who offer contemporary models in fresh colors and ornaments. A new piece looks like a worn old rag. Or like a look into the Milky Way. Or like a sketch by Javier Mariscal.

The new ones also trade in unique items that take hours to create. Ali Oskui, winner of the Best International Carpet Design Award 2014, sees himself as the composer of the knots: every link is like a note in music, "meaningless in itself". But in the interplay of color, material and design, a harmonious overall work grows from the many knots. A new generation of craftsmen is working with international designers who, in addition to silk and (tree) wool, are also experimenting with hemp or bamboo silk. For around two decades, the Good Weave seal (https://goodweave.org/) has promised carpets without child labor.

Oriental carpets are signs of an uninterrupted chain of tradition that is currently reinventing itself. The special thing about carpet art remains - as a walk-in picture. And also their fascination. The hand feels waves, valleys and mountains, where for a long time there were only perfect surfaces. What about the eye? That follows the structures and the light that sets them in motion. Maybe that's why magazines and housing consultants are already talking about a renaissance. One would almost like to call out to the skeptics: Dare more Persians. For ten years the old tradition of carpet-knotting has even been included in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind.

As fragile as carpets seem, they will last for centuries. It is quite possible that they will also survive this low demand. Until then, they are good at our feet.