Persian rugs have long been considered some of the the most beautiful carpets that the world has to offer. Authentic Persian rugs are treated like works of art and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars each. But the rug industry is now facing the threat of collapse. And it has nothing to do with changing rug tastes.
While a number of knock-off “Persian rugs” can be purchased from China or India, a real Persian rug is made in the area of the world once known as Persia and now part of the country of Iran. Recently, however, Iran hasn’t been faring too well with Western countries which purchase a good number of its rugs.
In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush declared that Iran was part of an Axis of Evil which also included Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s pre-invasion Iraq. In 2006 tensions were ratcheted up more when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iranian scientists had successfully enriched uranium for the nation’s supposed nuclear energy program. One consequence of these deteriorating relations has been the implementation of sanctions on Iranian goods.
Sanctions certainly aren’t new to the Persian rug industry. In fact, Persian rugs were banned by the United States throughout the 1990s until President Bill Clinton took the rugs off the ban list in a goodwill gesture. In 2010, however, the goodwill ended and the rug loophole was closed again—this time even more tightly. Persian rugs can’t even be imported into the United States from a third country.
The E.U. meanwhile has its own sanctions on Iranian products and services. Though rugs may still be purchased, starting July 1st, the E.U. will be banning Iranian oil imports. The E.U. has also blacklisted a number of Iranian banks and in March, Belgian-based SWIFT, the world’s largest electronic payment system decided to expel those banks from its services. Now rug producers are having trouble accepting or receiving payments. Without the ability to hold online financial transactions, Iranian rug companies have essentially been cut off from the world.
Critics of the U.S. and E.U. sanctions say that putting embargos on the rugs hurts the people who make the rugs more than the government. Instead of stopping the nation’s nuclear program, the sanctions may be stopping a rural Iranian mother from putting food on the table. On the other hand, Persian rugs are one of Iran’s largest exports and the struggles of the industry may encourage Tehran to be more careful.
Whether you agree with the sanctions or not, it’s unlikely that we here in the United States will be seeing new Persian rugs anytime soon. Relations between the U.S. and Iran are downright cold and the temperature just keeps on dropping. Maybe you could find a more simple, modern rug design for your living room or hallway. Maybe you could go with hardwood. Or maybe those Chinese knockoffs aren’t looking so bad after all?
But if you do have any type of Oriental rug or Persian rug that needs cleaning, contact Steamer’s Carpet Care today.