How to Buy an Oriental Rug

One of TIME's Middle East correspondents offers tips for novice bargain hunters

Izzet Keribar / Lonely Planet

A carpet shop near an entrance to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

One of the fringe benefits of being a Middle East correspondent is that my travels in the region have allowed me to start a decent little collection of Oriental rugs and, in the process, get better at the art of buying them. I bought my first one--a prayer rug, to celebrate my safe return from Iraq--at a suq in the Old City of Damascus. Carpet seekers flock to similarly byzantine markets in Morocco and Turkey, among other countries. But Syria is a particularly good place to pick up rugs and has been ever since Silk Road travelers from the great weaving...

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