Magic Carpet Ride

Were it not for its history of conflict, Afghanistan might be best known for its gorgeous rugs, handwoven by nomadic tribes scattered across the country. In recent times, improved roads and increased security have made it easier for intrepid traders to bring these rich prizes of Afghan culture to less remote markets—their warm hues and intricate tribal patterns are showing up in carpet showrooms from Sydney to San Francisco. Unfortunately, clever imitations are turning up, too. So how does a novice buyer spot the fakes? We asked two experts—third-generation carpet trader Abdul Tawab and his father, Hajji Sufi Abdul Wahid—for advice....

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