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Q&A Silk Rug on Craigslist


Kashmir or Qum

I saw this rug on Craigslist Portland Oregon.  It is a 30" X 65" rug.  It is supposed to be a pure silk Qum rug, made in Iran about 35 years old, in excellent condition.  I would like to know if you can tell me if that is correct.  Also, he is asking $500 for it.  I am a bit suspicious about it because that seems low for a qum silk rug.



Craislist Rug possible Qum


This is a tough one from just two photographs.  Our guess is this is either a silk Qum, or a kashmir silk.  Either one, 1970's vintage is probably pretty accurate. 

As a bit of background info, generally, right before the embargo, prices for rugs from Iran was going up.  It wasn't unheard of for dealers to be paying a high premium on fine rugs from Qum and other weaving cities in Iran, especially for good rugs as quality control was somewhat difficult before the embargo.  Other weaving countries such as India began increasing production of finer grade rugs as prices were getting high for true Qum rugs.  Importers feared they would need to have a backup should their supplies be cut short, so some production migrated Kashmir.  This made sense for both economic reasons and long term sustainability.

Although India had been producing rugs for some time before the 70's, it took a while for Kashmir to catch onto the Qum type silk rugs.  While they made some very nice examples, many were woven with silk pile on cotton foundation, simplified designs, thick pile not cut short enough for optimized design, etc.  The best of the best from Kashmir during this time took a great deal of trial and error.  While Kashmir rugs were less expensive than Qum, they were by no means inexpensive.

Many dealers still have stock of both Qum and Kashmir silk from this vintage, but interestingly enough, several I know still want more money for the old stock than what it would cost to replace at a retail price for a comparable new rug from either country.   As a loose example, and I hate comparing by knot count because it is very misleading, but the average fine example of a 1970's Qum in new condition with around 400 kpsi could go for $500 +/- per square foot retail today.  A new Qum rug made in the last few years with 600 KPSI could go for just $300 +/- retail.  Big difference in price, finer rug being less expensive. 

Same goes for Kashmir in regards to old vintage stock to new prices.  Perhaps dealers paid too much back in the 70's to hold and sell in today's market.  Just an interesting point.  The vintage is what does it for these rugs, although true Qum silk prices generally have gone up quite a bit in just the last 5 years for several other reasons.

The reason I mention all the above is some Indian weavers came very close to replicating Qum rugs even back then.  Good ones were available in both silk on cotton and silk pile with silk foundation.  However, despite the best efforts, some signs of an Indian rug showed through and were easily seen in a side-by-side comparison. 

Here's a short breakdown of what we see in this rug which may differentiate between the two countries from the 70's :

  • Longer kilim on one side - could be both Iran or India.  However, India Kashmir tended to make the kilim longer in more rugs than Iran production did.
  • *Slightly wide stripe border on the perimeter of the rug (dk. blue) - more typical of India, although Iran qum if using a thicker border would accentuate it a bit more with an even wider band.
  • Jewel tones - The blue and gold seen seems a bit more Indian than Iran
  • Last, and perhaps most convincing, simplification of design:  See image below with Black Circle and Black zig-zags outlined.  In a Iran Qum, this would usually be a bit more elaborate than a zig-zag diagonal in the outer minor border.  In a true qum, this would generally be a Laleh abbasi design, or something with a bit more substance and detail.  India was known to simplify these details for whatever reason. 

Not Laleh 
Abbasi Design

We would lean toward Kashmir just a little more than Iran based on what we see from the images.  If you could grab us a photograph from our necessary images, we could help out a lot more and say with more certainty.  There is a possibility it is true Qum. 

Assuming the knot count is around 400 kpsi, from India, silk on silk, 1970s, excellent condition.... 

Private party condition with very little use, we would say $250 - 400 would be okay territory to purchase if there were no problems in coloration or conditional issues.  Another point though - I would not be surprised if a dealer asked $1500 or $1800 for this rug at retail in brand new condition, unused since the 1970's.  They paid a lot of money for these back in the day, but some who have them will mark them down much more.  The problem is many finer rugs from India can be had at a much cheaper price if newer production.  It's more difficult to sell a Kashmir:  In a sense, they don't have the same clout or allure as Qum to the public.  A perceived value of a rug from Iran being worth more, which is not always true.

If you purchase it at a really good negotiated price, sit on it online with a higher but fair asking price, you never know what may come out of it.  Would love to see more photos if available from the seller.

Really happy to hear you caught the rug bug, just want to provide the best info we can.  Unfortunately, all this could be obliterated or substantiated with better pictures, but wish you the best on it.

David & Rug Rag

Hope this helps, and all the best!

- Rug Rag



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