Dubai: A royal Persian carpet valued at Dh8 million and carpets dating back 500 years are turning heads at the 23rd edition of the Carpet and Art Oasis, which opened on Tuesday.
Themed ‘A Fabric of Innovation’, the exhibition organised by Dubai Customs features more than 200,000 exquisite and rare carpets, a few even studded with 24-carat gold, making it difficult to single out any of them for their uniqueness.
However, the price tag on some and the rich history they carry, is specially intriguing.
Believed to be one of the most expensive carpets showcased at the exhibition, is a 150-year-old masterpiece commissioned by one of the royals of the Kajar dynasty.
“This antique carpet made of pure core wool, the highest quality of wool, is valued at Dh8 million and is the only one in the world. It was passed down from my great grandfather,” said Dr Afshin Ghanbarinia, vice-chairman of Heritage Carpets.
The 7x5 metre carpet, only for display at the exhibition, took 12 years to make, according to Dr Ghanbarinia, and involved artists from different parts of the world in drawing its designs. It also has more than 12 colours and more than 150 figures.
“This is one of the treasures of our collection. This fine knotted carpet tells the history of mankind through the language of animals. In it, you would be able to see all aspects of human living such as friendship, greed, jealousy, kindness. Every picture in the carpet tells a story,” Dr Ghanbarinia said.
The exhibition, a key event of the Dubai Shopping Festival, is among a few exhibitions in the world to focus on handcrafted silk and wool carpets, said Ahmad Mahboob Musabih, director of Dubai Customs, with carpets this year worth Dh2 billion.
“There is more than one thing that makes this exhibition different than any other, which is the uniqueness of the carpets coming from over 12 famous countries along the silk road,” he said, as he toured the event site.
He added that carpets today represent valuable collectibles and are a form of investment. “Handmade carpets of high quality increase in value every year,” he said, noting that 2016 sales at the Oasis topped Dh62 million.
Also taking part in this edition are antique rug collectors, displaying unique collections over 100 years old.
Sherid Hamoudah, an antique carpet collector for more than 30 years, showcases more than 200 carpets in pairs, some of which have been even featured in books.
Pointing to his 120-year-old Persian carpet, he said: “This is a rare piece I acquired with the mehrab design, which is the niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla that Muslims pray towards. Usually prayer mats are small, but this carpet is huge and is made from the 17th century style which come a bit tall and narrow.”
Priced at almost $200,000, the hand-knotted merino wool carpet includes 3D designs of birds and animals, he said.
“It took many years of work, and because carpets improve in colour with age, this is why this one has a yellowish colour to it,” he said.
Many carpets are on display for the first time, said Abdul Rahman Eisa, chairman of the Carpet Oasis’ organising committee and this year they have dedicated a stand to showcase local carpet offering.
What: 23nd edition of Carpet and Art Oasis
Where: Shaikh Saeed Halls 2 & 3 in Dubai World Trade Centre