A pursuit dear to the hearts of many foreign visitors to Istanbul is the hunt for an authentic Turkish carpet. Of course, everyone who has ever sought to nab one has experienced, or at least heard of, woeful tales of deception, misrepresentation, false threading and just too much free tea for the trouble.
That said, a little advice picked up from the experts in the business might be useful.
When looking for carpets, be sure to look around and compare before committing (a little home study before arriving is great too). Try to look for shops with serious tradition (family-owned is a good sign) and an attested reputation; such firms are keen to keep up their business and good name and enjoy repeat business- another good indicator.
Further, you'll be wise to demand Turkish rugs only, with certification. The last few years have seen a proliferation of cheap, mass-produced carpets from Afghanistan and Pakistan passed off as the real thing.
Third, avoid the touts and well-attired persuaders strategically located nearby the prime tourist sites; they are working on commission and not particularly scrupulous.
Now that you know what to look out for, where to go?
The Grand Bazaar is of course the prime place for shoppers (though not the only), teeming with over 4,000 shops of all kinds. Although there are many excellent carpet dealers, one unique and rather hip one is Ethnicon, a small but now quite well known outlet offering unique “fusion” rugs and wall hangings, or "kilims."
The vision of the company was to cater to an emerging market (the modern urban interior of varying degrees of minimalism) while at the same time addressing an acute need: the increasing scarcity of antique carpets coming from Anatolian family collections, which have gone from a flood to a trickle over the past 20 years.
To get around this lack, Ethnicon decided to use what was to be found from damaged antique partial carpets, nomad tent coverings, soft casings, scraps and so on, patching them all together through a 15-step process. The result is alluring rugs and wall decorations that combine old ingredients with modern deco tastes. With widespread media attention, the Ethnicon style has become a brand in its own right.
Ethnicon- Grand Bazaar, Kapalýcarsý Takkeciler Sok. 58-60
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