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Darien Expert Unravels Carpet Mystique

The only way to tell the difference between a real Persian rug and a copy from Pakistan or China is to train your eye, says Easton resident Bijan Janati, owner of Shiraz Antique Carpets in Darien. It’s all about the color, he explains, using music as an analogy. “Some people have perfect pitch,” he says, “And some people can perceive color." Bijan emphasizes that it's impossible to learn about carpets just by looking at photographs. It's important to touch the carpet and learn how each one feels.

Janati is a third generation dealer and an expert on antique rugs from Iran, formerly Persia, He also sells carpets from France and China. He scours the world for interesting finds, buying at auction and from individuals. Carpets are considered antiques when they are 60 years old, he says, unlike furniture, which has to be at least 100 years old before it can claim antique status.

Among the treasures in his store, which is right across from the Darien train station, is a 17th century Flemish tapestry . “The only reason it has survived this long is that it was hanging on a wall,” says Janati. He sees its next home in the lobby of a corporation, or maybe in an elegant hotel, or gracing the home of a connoisseur of the decorative arts.

Only women could have made the impossibly tiny knots in the intricate silk Isfahan hanging above his desk. Janati explains that the pattern for this rug would have been designed and painted by an accomplished artist. Once the design was complete it would be transferred to a grid so that the village workroom could copy it in wool and silk.

Tribal rugs have patterns that are bolder with more rustic color schemes. “They are improvised, like jazz,” Janati says. They are usually less refined and have fewer knots. Most are made by both men and women from the nomadic tribes that still roam Iran. "They're usually woven right in the tribes' tents," Bijan says.

In addition to selling fine carpets, Janati will do appraisals. He also provides expert cleaning and repair services. He has plenty of advice when it comes to looking after your area rugs. "Fold a corner of your rug over so that you can see the warp threads," he says. "If the threads are dirty or if dirt flies up, then it's time to have your rug cleaned professionally." He adds that the best way to keep carpets clean and in good condition is to leave the dirt at the door by removing your shoes, as they do in Iran.

When was the last time you had your oriental rugs cleaned?

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