HomeImprovementRugs: An Elegant Way To TransformA Room

Published on Thu, Sep 23, 2004 by ack Kintner

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Home Improvement
Rugs: An Elegant Way To Transform A Room

By Jack Kintner

One of the quick and effective ways to accentuate a room is with carpeting, and some of the best comes from places where it’s been made for millennia. It’s hard to think of any other household item in common use, in fact, that’s made pretty much the same way now as it was centuries ago, but that’s true of Persian rugs.

Often bought as antiques, the durable and intricate patterns reflecting the eastern predilection with symmetry and abstract design are still created mainly in wool and silk, although unlike the old days the wool may come from New Zealand and the silk from back yard Afghani worm ranches. The patterns are vividly rendered in contemporary dyes or in traditional vegetable dyes that are also hypo-allergenic.

Until a week ago there wasn’t any place close by that had Asian rugs in any reasonable kind of variety, nothing like the dizzying piles of samples one might be shown by a merchant in a Persian or Turkish market, each design and color combination unique.

But now there is, thanks to Pakistani brothers Saif and Javad Mahmood, rug wholesalers who have just opened up a retail outlet on the corner of the King George Highway and 24 Avenue, just a few minutes from Blaine and a few blocks north of White Rock. They’ve got a few pieces of furniture and over 1,200 different carpets in their 4,000 square foot store ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Wholesale carpeting is the Mahmood family business and has been based in Lahore, in northeastern Pakistan, for at least three generations. Saif came to the Vancouver area in 1986 with his wife and two daughters as their accounts in western Canada began to grow. His younger brother Javad lived for a time in Britain before joining him. He and his wife have a year-old daughter, something that had him apologizing for looking a little tired, since, as he remarked, “sometimes we don’t get much sleep.”

People are attracted to their product, Saif Mahmood said, because each rug is a unique item of obvious quality but they’ll make a choice when they see a color or pattern that grabs their attention. “They fall in love,” he said, and it’s easy to see why. The floor examples are almost unbelievably rich with detail and packed so densely that it can take four men to lift a 12 x 18 foot rug.

Though the designs are as intricate as a finely detailed coin it’s all done by workers who tie knots of material onto cording stretched on a vertical loom in a process that was already ancient when Marco Polo brought back a few camel loads of carpet to Italy in the 13th century. By that time “Persian rugs” were already being found in the lists of treasures with which kings endowed monasteries in England. They were also known and somewhat crudely copied by the ancient Romans.
These days a designer will draw a map to guide the knot tying much like a cross-stitch design has a paper map under it. The more expensive examples have up to 600 knots per inch, so tight they’re almost waterproof.

One of the more expensive rugs in the store is an 8x12 foot Persian wool Tabriz made in Iran. The design is a complex optical illusion that after a few minutes seems to be as deep as it is wide. It’s highlighted with bright white lines of silk that are called touches.

Javad Mahmood said that so far they’ve sold mainly to new home buyers, but that they also get customers who ask about putting an Asian rug over the top of wall-to-wall carpeting. “We have pads for both situations,” he said, “rubber pads for hardwood floors and then a material that’s like a sheet to go under a rug placed on top of other carpeting. Both are there also to anchor the rug and keep it from creeping around the room or sliding on polished hardwood.

To get there, take the first exit (8th Avenue) once past the border at the Peace Arch and go west, back over the freeway to the first light and turn right on to the King George Highway. The store is about 16 blocks on your right at the 24th Avenue intersection. Their phone is 604/535-5781.