NOMAD’S LAND

by ALAENA HOSTETTER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

From the steppes of the caucasus mountains in Eastern Europe to a shop in the Dallas Design District, the antique rugs at Nomads Loom have made quite a journey across the world, bringing some amazing history with them.

Custodians of these antique artifacts are shop owners Nazaret Sirinoglu and his son, Sarven, who pride themselves on the vast knowledge they’ve accumulated as third and fourth generation rug purveyors.

“It takes a lot of experience,” Sirinoglu says. “There are thousands of different types of rugs. You need to know about quality, history, value and where they come from, plus the rarity comes into play with antique rugs.”

The Sirinoglu family is ethnically Armenian but hails from Turkey, where Nazaret Sirinoglu’s father and grandfather were well-known producers of the finest-quality silk and wool rugs, respectively. Their rugs carry their Armenian family name, Sherenian, before it was adapted into its current Turkish translation, Sirinoglu.

Sherenian silk rugs were extremely labor intensive to create as they were all dyed and knotted by hand in the era before mechanized looms. For example, a 3-by-5-foot rug could take two years to make, Sirinoglu explains, which drives up the price. “My father’s rugs are sought after as collector items,” he says. “They’re very well known in the trade and very expensive.”

His father, Haygaz, dreamt up the designs and color schemes for each piece beginning in the 1950s, when he opened his own operation in Istanbul, through the 1990s.

“He derived his designs from architectural pieces or tile works—inspiration comes from everywhere. A lot of talent comes into play,” Sirinoglu says. Skilled weavers made Haygaz’s vision come to life knot by knot in the villages surrounding Istanbul.

Sirinoglu brought his family’s knowledge and history to Dallas, opening a shop locally 45 years ago. While he introduced Dallas to his family’s one-of-a-kind designs, his brother opened a rug cleaning service. Sirinoglu’s nephews still operate the business, which goes by the name of Armen Oriental Rug Cleaning.

Besides his family’s pieces, Sirinoglu’s favorite rugs are the asymmetrical, imperfect designs from the nomadic goat herders in the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe. Sirinoglu’s love of their geometric, primitive patterns inspired his business’ name, Nomads Loom.

“These pieces were homemade for their own use; they weren’t made in a workshop to be sold elsewhere,” Sirinoglu explains. “These nomadic people weren’t professional weavers, so there are mistakes in their designs, which adds beauty to the rugs. Imperfections make the rug much more interesting to me. Tribal rugs speak to me more than city rugs.”

Nomads Loom also has an assortment of antique and hand-knotted reproduction rugs from Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and China to satisfy multiple price points. But it only stocks items that the Sirinoglus themselves endorse.

“We take pride in our inventory,” Sirinoglu says. “We don’t do programmed goods like the bigger rug dealers who have certain designs of machine-made rugs in every size. Those mass-produced rugs aren’t really quality pieces. An antique rug will last longer than a newer rug—they’re more durable and have better quality materials.”

Sirinoglu and his son source pieces from their travels in the Middle East and Asia, estate sales and their worldwide connections. They operate a lot like art historians or forensic scientists, digging for clues about the age, material and the origins of each antique piece that they come across.

“It’s a very mysterious business, but we love rugs to the extent that it’s an addiction—a kind of disease,” he says with a laugh. “We like to find out about each of these pieces, examine them, and then we go with our instincts, really.”

His instinct for rugs started early. “I’d hang out at my father’s shop after school and on vacations and learn the trade from him,” Sirinoglu says.

With so many variables at play when determining the value of a rug, Nomads Loom has one priceless asset in abundance: a lifetime of experience in the industry. *

Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment and food. She can be reached via her website alaenahostetter.com