Oriental rugs have been part of Arabic culture since before 2000 BC. Bahrain is home to few of the oldest, authentic thread heads
Gone are the days when oriental rugs were just adornments for floors. Today, hand woven rugs are works of art. Even more valuable than brand new ones are second hand ones; a rug between 40 to 100 years old can fetch up to $30 million!
Bradran is Bahrain’s oldest shop dealing in authentic oriental rugs since 1935. Tucked away in the lane just before Gold City in Manama Souq is its wholesale outlet, which supplies to other shops on the island, including its branches in Moda Mall and Al A’ali Mall. An avid collector for decades, Bradran sells Turkish, Iranian, Indian and Pakistani specialties. One of their most prized souvenirs is a fragment of a rug from the 16th century.
In the same neighbourhood, at the entrance of Manama Souq, Bab Al Bahrain, is Ali Baba Cave Antiques. The store is popular for its Eastern rugs in addition to other traditional buys and the friendly Bahraini owner is a pleasure to deal with. Eastern rugs are made using only pure silk and priced at anything between $1800 to $8,000. Dotting the ‘shawarma alley’, as called by the locals, are few more shops selling the real deal. These have been around since 1960 and are popular with tourists.
A thumb rule for novice rug collectors is to turn the rug over – if the design is visible from the underside, it is authentic. Another cue is the number of knots per square inch – the best ones have around 600 to 700. More knots means more value as it takes longer to weave. Price also depends on the material. Prayer rugs, usually silk, are quite expensive, compared to cotton or wool ones.
Words By: Melissa Nazareth