An Oscar Isberian Blog by Diane Cotton Caplan
If only these walls (and rug piles) could talk! Well, they did on Wednesday evening, Nov. 8th at Oscar Isberian Rugs in Evanston, as acclaimed carpet expert, Oscar Tatosian, took attendees on a journey through the storied history of Antique rugs. He was joined by brother and business partner, Sarkis Tatosian, Isberian rug specialists, Mesrop Darian and Walter Ishaya and a number of other members of the Isberian team.
“Antique Rugs 101” is part of an exclusive new Oscar Isberian seminar series titled, “World of Antique Rugs │Learning Sessions,” which aims to shine a spotlight on Antique Rugs and engage new conversations on the ever-shrinking and often mysterious category. At the Evanston session, attendees were given a brief overview of the family-run carpet company before the show-and-tell seminar.
“Our grandfather started the business here at this location in 1928,” said Oscar Tatosian. “There’s no MBA for this; we learned most of what we know at his knees.”
He went on to explain that for a textile to be called an Oriental Rug, it must be completely handwoven and made of natural materials like silk, wool or cotton. The responsive audience asked thoughtful questions, including about the differences between natural and synthetic dyes and whether these color variants changed a particular rug’s classification as an authentic antique. Once answered, Oscar went on to the bigger picture.
“Let’s organize antique rugs into two categories,” he said. “First, village, or tribal rugs, and second, city or workshop rugs. It’s like the difference between country music vs. the symphony or fried chicken vs. foie gras.”
The delighted audience listened as Oscar doled out easy-to-digest anecdotes, showing antique after antique to illustrate his stories. “Rugs began coming into America after the Civil War and the first World War,” he said. “America was prospering and wealthy leaders of the Industrial Revolution, the Rockefellers, for example, would take the Orient Express to Constantinople (Istanbul) to begin cultivating their now-legendary collections.”
Wine and hors d’oeuvres were served as guests viewed inscribed rugs from Armenia; Sarouks from Iran; Eagle Kazak fragments; a pure silk Hereke with 2,000 knots per inch; and even a charming Navajo piece.
Perhaps the biggest showstoppers were a striking, 60-foot Turkoman tent band, painstakingly made of wool and silk, as well as a large, mint-condition Motesham Keshan, found on a recent buying trip. Sarkis Tatosian said of the Motesham, “This is my cup of tea. Look at its velvety texture, its imperfect medallion, which I love, and the pristine colors.”
“We take buying very seriously,” Oscar Tatosian added. “In some cases, we buy out of passion, rather than business prospects.”
The next World of Antique Rugs │ Learning Session, titled: “Good, Better, Best Antique Rugs” is Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 at 6 p.m. at Oscar Isberian Rugs, 1028 Chicago Ave, Evanston. Reserve your spot today. You don’t want to miss it!