Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Learn all about Persian rugs

- Allister Sparks -

One of South Africa's leading Persian carpet experts will visit Prince Albert next month to deliver a lecture in the Prince Albert Gallery on the value, history and appreciation of these beautiful works of craftsmanship.

You will also have an opportunity to buy some of the hand-picked rugs. The lecture, by specialist Ibrahim Ravat, will be followed by an auction. A commission on the sales will go to the Prince Albert People’s Skills Trust.

The lecture and auction will be on Saturday May 3, at 6.30 for 7 pm. About 500 rugs will be on preview the day before, and out-of-hand sales can take place on May 4 and 5.

Ibrahim Ravat is a consummate connoisseur who has been in the Persian rug business for 55 years, has worked as an international consultant and has even been called upon to evaluate Persian carpets for overseas museums.

He is also a consummate South African, born of Indian descent and married to an Afrikaner woman who studied interior decorating in New York, then converted to Islam and called herself Madija.

The couple travel to the Middle East on carpet expeditions three times a year. They live on a seven-acre estate on the outskirts of Pretoria which is a kind of shrine with a huge carpet gallery that draws a constant stream of worshippers who share their passion for the ancient art of hand-woven Oriental rugs.

Ibrahim waxes lyrical over his rugs, describing the weaving of them, especially the knot which is the very essence of their creativity, as "a patient, devoted, almost biblical art of faith."

But he is also a practical man who will tell you how to tell a good rug from an inferior one, how to tell a hand-woven one from a machine-made one, how to watch out for the crooked dealer who will inflate the price so as to catch you with a seemingly irresistible discount, and even about how to learn the different motifs and symbols in the complex designs.

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