When shopping for a kilim, two terms that often come up are vintage and antiques. While they may sound similar, there are differences between the two that change the kilim being purchased in some major ways. There are three distinct differences between vintage and antique items: age, who deals with each type, and materials used.
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Vintage used to be a word used more to describe wines, but has lately branched out to apply to other things. For some items, the term vintage describes something that is at least 20 years and older. These items tend to have been around a short time and have not had time to become antiquities. Because kilims have a rich and long history going back centuries, the term vintage applies to kilims that were woven usually between 50-100 years ago.
To be considered antique, the kilim had to be woven at least one hundred years ago. Kilims were made almost exclusively by nomads and were once considered a low-status item and were not valued until much later. Although a lot were made throughout the centuries, until they were valued higher, many kilims were lost due to heavy use and careless tending. But there are still many antique kilims that show their rich history in their designs and colors.
Antique vs Vintage
Antique items are primarily associated with antique dealers. They are officially dated and certified to verify their age and history. They are valued according to what information can be verified regarding the kilim. These are often found in history experts collections, antique stores and auction houses. Museums are also more likely to display antique kilims than vintage ones. Vintage items can be easier to verify their age since they are newer. Vintage kilims can still have a rich history, even if it isn’t as long as an antiques would be. These kilims tend to be associated more with private collectors and amateur history enthusiast.
The final difference is in materials used. While this difference does not always hold true, there were materials used that are no longer used for various reasons. One material example is vegetable fiber. This material tended to decay over time and kilims made from this material have not lasted. Kilims made from hair also did not handle time well. While this is still a material used and there are vintage kilims made from hair, very few kilims lasted long enough to become antiques. Dyes also changed over time. Natural dyes and specific colors are more likely to be seen in antique kilims. Chemical dyes were invented in the 1850s well past the hundred-year mark required for something to be antique. So there are some antique kilims dyed with synthetic dyes, but the older ones will be naturally dyed.
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When looking to purchase an older kilim, either antique or vintage, make sure to do some research. Keep these three variables in mind when looking at a kilim rug. The more reputable rug sellers will have the information regarding these things. Auction houses and antique stores are also more likely to have paperwork verifying the age and history of their kilim rugs. Vintage rugs can also be verified, and sometimes more easily, even if owned by private collectors. But vintage or antique, kilim rugs have a rich history and strong culture that resides in all of them that make them worth owning, from any age.