Carpets with a history

David Bakhshi tells their story and passes on the wisdom of buying oriental rugs

Open the door at Royal Antique Rugs on Eglinton Avenue. What the newcomer sees is a chaos of carpets. Carpets piled up row after row. Carpets rolled up and leaning on the walls of the store. Carpets hanging on the walls. Carpets everywhere.

But fear not! There is order. Proprietor David Bakhshi knows each and every one of the rugs and their pedigree. Everyone has a story. Bakhshi knows them all.

“I can read the history of the rug, where it was made and how old it is,” he says pointing to a rug hanging on the wall. That one he flew to England to buy.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor in a yoga-like position, a worker patiently plucks at a rug, adding new fringes to it.

“That rug,” Bakhshi says “is over 100 years old.” But its nemesis is the relatively new technology, the vacuum cleaner. His diagnosis: “It’s suffering from over-vacuuming.”

But not to worry, he says, “We will make it look as if nothing had happened to it.”

When it’s ready to go home, the rug’s owner will get a lesson in rug care from Bakhshi: “When you vacuum, go with the pile, not against it, so it won’t stress the foundation of the carpet.”

Young David would rather weave rugs than kick a soccer ball

Bakhshi was born and grew up in the rug-weaving region of Tabriz in Iran. Rug making was the family tradition. While other boys played soccer, young David took rug weaving lessons from his mother and grandmother at the family-run business, Royal Antique Rugs.

“I saw my family weaving rugs. I began doing knotting myself,” he recalls.

At 12, he apprenticed with a well-known local rug merchant and continued his education in the arts of weaving, dyeing and restoring rugs. He also studied the various rug designs from all over the rug-weaving world.

“I can weave a rug myself and restore one,” Bakhshi says proudly.

At 19, he ventured out on his own, moving to Rome, where he added buying and selling rugs to his resume. His customers included jewelry designer, Paolo Bulgari.

In Bakhshi’s opinion, the best carpets are of handspun wool and vegetable dyed. They last.

The best are from Persia but India competes for top-of-class honours. The Indian weavers of today are the descendants of Iranian weavers who fled the country during the Iranian Revolution of 1905.

A rug is a good investment and an heirloom

“People have to think that a $5000 rug will last the rest of their life and that their children can pass it on.

“If you buy a rug from Ikea or Walmart, you spend $700 to $800. It has no value and after a few years, you have to throw it out and get another. In the long term, you pay more and you have nothing to pass on,” Bakhshi advises.

He calls a well-made rug “art on the floor.”

Bakhshi has been restoring and selling rugs at 207 Eglinton Avenue W. since 1996.

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