Archive for January, 2012

Persian Carpets and Oriental Rugs: Copyright Laws And Regulations

The fact that artists should be able to make a living from their work is not accepted in all parts of the world. The individual appropriation of creations is a concept not yet accepted in many cultures. Artists and weavers of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs are no exception. They are paid for their work, the success of which will obviously depend on their fame, the quality of their work, and sometimes even by their political or cultural views, and they are seen as simply continuing the work of previous weavers.They may be highly respected for what they have created. In cultures of rug-producing countries, no justification exists for an artist to exploit a creation exclusively for many decades. It is simply not a habit. Within the “Oriental rugs” industry, designs are not protected by any copyright laws, and there exists neither quality control processes nor geographic terms of origin in countries where the economy is largely affected by the production of rugs. Patterns have often been copied by weavers not only within a certain region, but also by other countries. This has certainly damaged the authenticity factor for which many potential rug buyers look for in such works of art.

Copyright

Copyright

Up until the end of 1970’s, the economic situation in most rug-producing countries was as follows: a large workforce originating from rural areas and expanding to the very borders of larger cities, provided the task of weaving all types of hand-knotted rugs, mostly of low-cost and acceptable quality. There was a wide range on offer; each region would stand out from the others with its traditional designs, its local wools and natural dyes. From the villages producing the carpets to the largest markets supplying their clients, the costs of production allowed the numerous intermediaries a sufficient profit margin to make a living from the distribution process. Production of hand-knotted rugs gradually became an important source of employment and made the industry a crucial factor in the economy.

Domestic markets absorbed the majority of this production and the carpets of “contemporary” master weavers were sought after by middle classes who considered these as good investments. These same middle classes would sell their 30 to 50 year-old rugs in local markets to export merchants who would then sell them to some exporter or foreigner, and supplying Western markets in this way. These dealers, wonderful story tellers, managed to spin a yarn transforming the most worn of carpets into original antique rarities sold for a fortune to those with a taste for the “Oriental”.

This market blossomed all the more thanks to the genuine antique carpets of exceptional and magnificent beauty, which had been exported since the 17th century to centers such as the U.S., Austria, Germany, England, Italy, and Switzerland. They became the objects of transactions between well-known merchants and discerning collectors, all of which helped to increase their market values. End users lacked the knowledge and the information to distinguish genuine antique and collectible rugs from simply worn pieces. With so much data available today, potential rug buyers are certainly making more educated choices when purchasing a rug for their home.

TRADE-MARK

TRADE-MARK

Before the 1970’s, there still existed an extraordinary regional diversity within the rug industry among nomadic tribes as well as famous master weavers.  Each town and each tribe had its own characteristics. All the elements were there to develop geographic designations, but this is no longer the case today. At a time when Europe was introducing “A.O.C.” (the sign of controlled quality and origin) aiming at protecting products from the countryside along with crafts and luxury brands, rug-producing countries proceeded to ignore and despise the protection of brands, which has had adverse effects on the indutry as a whole. Perhaps the lack of motivation to come up with new ideas, patterns, and colors has had the most undesirable effects within the rug industry during the past few decades, and it seems like copyright regulations would be the best option to combat this effect.

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Persian Rugs, Oriental Rugs: Targeted Marketing

The population of the world is on the rise, new houses and apartment complexes are built every single day, resulting in greater demand for all types of floor covering. However, in comparison to the increasingly larger volume of handmade rugs being produced in different

Old Persian Tabriz Rug

Old Persian Tabriz Rug

parts of the world, demand has been relatively weak during the past two decades. It seems like the younger generation is somewhat reluctant to decorate their homes with authentic pieces of art work and would rather go with more casual alternatives to cover floors with. Although rug makers add value to the most basic raw materials on the face of the planet, and constantly come up with new patterns and colors to satisfy contemporary settings, the culture of fine carpets has almost vanished from modern interior design of today. At the same time, rising costs of labor and raw materials for production of hand-knotted rugs in today’s competitive markets requires increased investments by rug producers for the most uncertain results.

Master weavers and producers of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs will have to unite for more dynamic and targeted marketing policies and organize collective exhibitions of their works in different parts of the world while seeking new markets for their products. It is no longer sufficient to wait for the customers. Like all other luxury items, hand woven carpets should be sold, by professionals, as works of art in galleries and showrooms, all the more as the current global economic climate makes it difficult to reach new markets for these rugs.

For carpets of a commercial grade, the solution becomes more complex. National “quality control” frameworks need to be set up urgently in an inter-professional approach by rug-producing countries. Certain markets need to be targeted more strongly in the way the producers within farming industry managed to do with the common market. Unfortunately, such efforts have not yet been undertaken in countries where rug weaving remains, for thousands of families, a complementary source of income and an important factor in the social stability of rural communities. Increased production of hand-knotted rugs requires more serious marketing efforts to satisfy the tastes of the younger generation of the world’s population.

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