Best Istanbul Rugs: Modest is key

Photo by T. Selin Erkan on Unsplash

Turkish carpets are well-known for their quality, beauty, and rich history. They are one of the most popular souvenirs for tourists visiting Turkey, particularly Istanbul, and are available in a wide range of designs, colors, and sizes.

There are several types of Turkish carpets, including kilims, which are flat-woven carpets made by interweaving the warp and weft strands, and pile carpets, which are made by knotting the pile yarn around the warp strands. Turkish carpets are traditionally made of wool, silk, or cotton, and may feature various motifs and patterns, such as the central medallion, tree of life, or tribal designs.

If you’re interested in buying a Turkish rug in Istanbul, there are many shops and markets to choose from, including the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. However, it’s important to be cautious and do your research before making a purchase, as there are some dishonest merchants who may try to sell you low-quality or fake rugs. Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying a Turkish rug in Istanbul:

  • Do your research beforehand to understand the different types of Turkish rugs and their characteristics.
  • Shop around and compare prices and quality before making a decision.
  • Look for reputable rug shops and avoid buying from street vendors or unknown sellers.
  • Inspect the rug carefully before purchasing and ask about its origin, materials, and age.
  • Negotiate the price, but be respectful and mindful of the value of the rug and the seller’s livelihood. By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re getting a high-quality Turkish rug and supporting the local artisans and merchants in Istanbul.

Istanbul is famous for rugs – that’s good. It is also famous for those who sell rugs – that’s, well, not so good. You can either take our word for it, or go out on your own and find out the hard way.

Mustafa, the owner of Troy Rug Shop, is the only carpet salesman we’ve met who got into the business for a genuine love of people and of rugs. Almost all the others (and trust me you know when you spend months in Istanbul) are motivated by the profit to be had and, accordingly, see tourists as walking and talking pieces of money. Their goal is to ensure that that money becomes theirs, and they will go to any degree of “friendship” to do so. Don’t fall for phrases like “O, Canada! My brother lives in Miami!” or, in a Turkish bath reference, “money is like skin, you can wash it off, but it will always come back”.

The moment you walk into Mustafa’s shop you will feel like you’re at home. And he will treat you accordingly. Mustafa is truly interested in you and your family on a human-to-human level. He enjoys hearing your stories and, believe us, you will enjoy hearing his. He is just as happy having a good conversation with somebody as he is when somebody buys a rug. Not once will you feel pressured into purchasing a rug, but you should be open to letting Mustafa talk to you about his passion; he knows all there is to know about rugs and he loves sharing his knowledge. By the time you get up to leave you may not have a rug in hand, but I can guarantee you that you will have multiple cups of tea in your stomach and you most definitely will have made a new friend in Istanbul – there is a reason why so much of his business is through return clientele.

When I first met Mustafa, he told me that he has worked every single day for the last 8 years. I remember laughing it off. “This must be some sort of play to guilt-trip tourists into purchasing rugs they otherwise wouldn’t”, I thought to myself. I can’t believe how wrong I was.

If so much as the slightest prospect of intentional deception entered Mustafa’s head, I think that he would punish himself by not having tea for an entire day – something unheard of in this tea-loving country. He is simply too honest, too conscionable and too modest to ever even entertain the idea of telling a lie. But still, I couldn’t understand why he insisted on working every single day of his life for the past 8 years. Finally, after a few more visits, the answer dawned upon me. He is so passionate about the well-being of people, and he is such a believer that rugs may be the most important purchase that somebody may ever make, that he simply cannot risk not being around to help that person make their purchase. He considers it his duty to ensure that they are getting the highest quality rug at the best possible price. The thought of somebody going to his shop, finding it closed, and then proceeding to go to another shop just kills him. Not for a loss of profit on his side, but for a loss of satisfaction on the customer’s side.

If you are looking for great carpets and rugs for an fantastic prices, do yourself a favor and pay Mustafa a visit. Whether it is a rug or a new friend, we guarantee that you will leave with something honest.

Arasta Bazaar No : 39 34122

Sultanahmet Istanbul

Phone : +90 212 458 08 92

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