Local Knowledge: Celal Coşkun: Carpet Seller

Celal Coşkun learned to make carpets and weave kilims at his grandmother's knee in Malatya in southeastern Anatolia, before apprenticing himself as a carpet repairer in İstanbul and opening his shop, Old Orient Carpet & Kilim Bazaar, in Fethiye. We asked this 30-year veteran of the trade for his top tips on buying and caring for carpets and kilims.

  • Know the basics: a carpet is wool or silk pile with single (Persian) or double (Turkish) knots; a kilim is a flat weave and reversible; a cicim is a kilim with one side embroidered.
  • Establish in advance your price range and what you want in terms of size, pattern and colour.
  • Deal only with a seller who you feel you can trust, be it through reputation, recommendation or instinct.
  • Counting knots is most important on silk-on-silk carpets, as more knots equal better quality. A double-knotted wool carpet will feel slightly rougher to the touch but wear better than a single-knotted one.
  • Most reputable carpet shops can negotiate discounts of between 5% and 10%, depending on how you pay; anything higher than that and the price was inflated in the first place.
  • To extend the life of a carpet, always remove your shoes when walking on it and never beat the carpet, as this breaks the knots and warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) threads.
  • If professional cleaning is too expensive and the traditional method – washing it with mild soap and water and drying it on wood blocks to allow air to circulate beneath it – is too much like hard work, lay the carpet face (pattern) side down for a few minutes in fresh snow (if available!).
  • Mud and humidity cause most damage to carpets, but remember that anything made by hand – including a carpet – can be repaired by hand.