News ID: 198782
Published: 0259 GMT August 16, 2017

US, main importer of Iranian carpet: Official

US, main importer of Iranian carpet: Official

The United States is now the largest importer of Iranian carpets, shipping in $196 million worth of highly prized Persian artistry last year, said the head of the Iran National Carpet Center.

According to Press TV, Hamid Kargar further said, "China, despite being a rival of Iran in the past, is now importing Iranian carpets while the United States is the largest importer of carpets from Iran."

The US has long been a major market for Iran's handwoven carpets but a stack of sanctions imposed in 2010 pulled the rug from under the Persian craftsmanship, allowing cheaper craft from Pakistan, India, Turkey and China to gain a foothold.

For the first time, 14 American traders will attend the 26th edition of Iran's handmade carpet expo in Tehran scheduled for a week from August 23, the official said.

Citing customs figures, Kargar said carpets worth $89 million were exported in the four months from March 21, showing a growth of seven percent year-on-year. Last year, Iran’s exports totaled $360 million compared with foreign sales of $635 million before the sanctions.

Kargar, however, sees a potential for growth and even a leap in sales of Iranian carpets in international markets.

"After six years, the exports of handmade Iranian carpets to the United States have thrived, but in order to maintain our target market, we need to watch our rivals, such as India and Pakistan, since the preference of our modern customers is important in this market," he said.

Traders hope the quality of Iranian carpets would trump rivals. Devotees of Iran's artistry value its premium quality, design and color.

Iranian carpets are made of wool, silk or cotton, or a combination of the three. They are dyed with natural ingredients such as walnut skins, pomegranate and acorn cups.

Carpet weaving has a history of 2,500 years in Iran, ingrained in the country's national identity. There are currently one million weavers across the country, including 700,000 full-time artisans involved in the profession.

The northwestern provinces of Ardabil and East Azerbaijan, Isfahan in central Iran and Kerman in the southeast are the major carpet-weaving zones, each having its own unique style.

It is a family-run business, involving all age categories. Artisan products are churned out in local workshops where honed skills in design, weaving and dying make the difference. It is a painstaking vocation where some rugs take a decade or more to weave.

In the United States, Persian rugs are sold for between $10,000 for a smaller rug and $100,000 or even twice as much for a fine, large rug.

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