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The Storied Lives of Antique Rugs

The Eglinton Way BIA is a place of constant discovery, as the stories behind the storefronts are revealed through the people and things that each shop contains. Royal Antique Rugs is among the many hidden gems along The Eglinton Way, boasting a collection of exquisite oriental rugs that come to life with the expertise of David Bakhshi, owner of Royal Antique Rugs. This week, Sheliza Esmail from the Eglinton Way BIA sat down with David to learn more about his collection and his experience in the rug industry.

Royal Antique Rugs has just opened for the day and is perfumed with incense that are protectants for the rugs. I walk carefully through shop…there are countless rugs on either side of me, stacked high on the floor and hanging from the walls. Each one of them stands out against the next. David offers me some Persian tea before we get to talking…

The Eglinton Way: How did you come into the rug business?

David: I was exposed to the making and selling of rugs at a young age through my family’s business in Iran, where I’m originally from. At the age of twelve, when I apprenticed for a well-known rug merchant in Tehran, I learned how to dye, weave, and identify rugs. After two years, I returned to the family business where I was able to put what I had learned to good use.

The Eglinton Way: What is your favourite part about the business?

David: I love everything about the rug business. I work with all sorts of clients who require restorations, like the Textile Museum of Canada, the City of Toronto and private collectors. I also go to markets as part of my job, which I really enjoy. There is no doubt that this is a tough business, but it can bring lots of success if you are a knowledgeable person. The rugs that I handle have been designed and crafted by people who are often long gone. I derive great satisfaction from giving new life and finding new homes for these magnificent rugs.

David points out a few rugs he has been working on. All the work is done by hand. There are colourful spools of thread used to re-weave damage, and scissors for a tassel replacement that David is currently completing. Mending and shortening tassels is important to extending the life of a rug, he explains.

The Eglinton Way: How many years have you been working in the industry?

David: I have been working in the rug trade for about thirty
years now. I’ve had a store in Toronto for over twenty years, with the last ten being here on Eglinton Avenue. Before moving here, I was doing the same kind of work in Italy and became very well known in the business. My clients were prominent people and serious collectors. I also have a store in Kingston (ON), Kingston Royal Rugs. Today, my work involves buying and selling antique rugs as well as other services like cleaning, restorations, and appraisals.

The Eglinton Way: Do you have a favourite rug in the store?

David: This is hard to answer. So much thought and work went into the design and creation of each of these rugs. Even the process of creating colours to dye the wool is lengthy. I think I would choose tribal rugs as my favourite, because of their colour and quality. It’s important for me to know the different techniques used to make these rugs so I can tell which country or tribe they come from. There are many stories behind my rugs and so much history in their colours and designs.

David and I stray from the interview questions, and he tells me his interest in history. The more you know about previous empires and dynasties in the middle east, the more the you come to understand the story behind each rug…

 
 

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