It would be improper to mention sums of money made at the misfortune of the buyer. But it remains a simple truth that so many tourists pay many thousands more than a rug is worth. On the flip side, this simple transaction makes the rug dealer a relatively great deal of money. Once these realities are taken into consideration the buyer leaves our premise, sometimes in a state of despondency at how much money they lost, or they feel sheepish having been so obviously parted with their money, or, and this is the most common reaction, they fly into a rage, tell you that you know nothing about rugs, and that they will take their rug somewhere else. This is retail. Just bite your tongue and move along.
Possibly the most common rug where these mistakes are made is the so called "Pak-Bok", meaning, a Bokhara rug in design, but made in Pakistan. In order to understand what a "Pak-Bok" is we need to first take a cursory glance at the original Bokhara rugs.
|Two Turkomen on a Turkoman Rug|
|Seljuk Armor. Impressive Stuff|
|Relation of Bokhara to Pakistan|
|Antique Tekke Rug|
|Wonderful and ancient Bukhara|
Now I could show you endless photos of Turkoman rugs but that is a subject that people write, and have written, books about for a long time. The case at hand here is the emergence of the "Pak-Bok" that has led to so many misjudged sales and gnashing of teeth.
During the 1950s and 1960s any romance associated with the ancient art of rug-making has all but disappeared. In Iran, the veritable cradle of rug weaving, the emphasis was placed on mass-production using cheap materials for a hungry Western market. A similar event occurred in Pakistan, with the emergence of the locally made "Turkoman Knock-off". Basically, the Pakistani's tapped into the market for Turkoman rugs (with which they have no meaningful connection) by mass-producing them, nearly always with the Tekke gul.
Not only this, but a new array of color was added in. Instead of the traditional red, white and blue of a genuine Turkoman now came in a myriad of colors. By far the most common look retained the Turkomen color-scheme, as is seen in this example.
Even with this very brief look at Turkoman rugs allow us to draw parallels with the famous Afghan "Elephant's Foot" rugs, which parallel Turkoman rugs in color and gul design. The Afghans clearly manipulated this Turkoman design in favor of larger guls. Many of these rugs were also made in Pakistan during the mid-20th.
However, one must remember it was the 1960s which was a very bad time for design and color. People started taking drugs and thought it might be nice to have a Tekke Turkoman in mustard-yellow, for example. Taste went straight out the window. There was no lack of color to look for, these Pakistani made "Bokhara" rugs utilized them all. Here are a few unsavory examples.
The remaining outstanding conundrum, however, is obscured to a degree by story and myth. The big rug making centers in Pakistan were Karachi and Lahore. I have heard it on good authority that these rugs were woven in the train station districts of these cities, one of which was generally referred to as "Bokhara" train station because the trains headed north to Bokhara. Whether this is true or not I can't decide. Still, a good story is a good story...