David Lotfi

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Collector and owner of Toronto’s Royal Antique Rugs.

“This is a culture, each rug represents the root where we come from, the region”

(3:34)

#17 David_Lotfi_01_020

Rug; Iran, Kashan, 1900 to 1930; Cotton, wool

From the collection of David B. Lotfi, Royal Antique Rugs.

This rug was made in a Kashan workshop in the early twentieth century for the Western market. Its floral design and ivory ground with well-pronounced red motifs are typical for famous Dabir Kashan rugs, named after the renowned weaver Dabir Sanayeh. The rug is made from Australian wool processed in Manchester, England, which became available in Kashan in the 1880s and was used for weaving fine rugs for local and Western trade.

Transcript of Interview with David Lotfi

Hello, I am David Bakshi Lotfi. Rugs were a great part of family life in Iran. My mother and my father and my grandmother used to make rugs, and at the same time, my uncle had a workshop and dealt with natural dyes, vegetable dyes, cleaning, restoration, identifying rugs from different regions, and appraising them. Rug restoration and conservation was an education through my uncle in his workshop.

In my life—or all my life or maybe I’m one of those lucky people who grew up in the family—I haven’t done anything else other than rugs. Wherever I go, rugs are travelling with me, and any houses I go to or any places I go to, if there is a rug, it means I do have part of my family in the house, in the city, or in the country. I don’t feel I’m lonely, and that’s why I can’t imagine or I haven’t experienced anything else other than rugs. That’s why I started a rug business in Canada as well.

When I came here, I knew if there are people, there must be some rugs. And that’s what made me, after searching a few months, open my shop, or store—basically to continue to do the same business. I worked with the collectors right away, as soon as I came. And as soon as I did a couple of jobs, they liked it; they just passed it on. And since then, I don’t have spare time at all. But I love doing it.

I am a collector at the same time. That’s why when I was a little boy, I came to, basically, know a little bit about rugs. As a collector, I loved them! I was 12, 13 years old; I was going to the market and searching for good pieces and purchasing them for myself. In that time I couldn’t afford to go and buy the mint-condition rugs. I had to go and buy some a-little-bit-damaged rugs to be able to restore them, and I knew how they were going to end up at the end. And when I was collecting, I got some pieces I would never, ever part from, and I will always have them with me.

Rugs are really an education. There are so many dealers. They sell rugs. At the same time, you know some of them do not have a good reputation. And all people know about it. Rug dealers, if they come through the family business, are always interested in dealing with rugs, with people, and its education. And at the same time, if they open the door a little bit, everybody could get to know about it. At the same time, I think, in general, it’s like a fish in the lake: it would like to go to the ocean. That’s why we would like to get as many people as we can interested. This is a culture; each rug represents the root where we come from, the region. At the same time, the combination of colours can identify that this rug comes from the south part of Persia. It’s a great pleasure to be able to know that there are so many things that still we don’t know about carpets. Always there are mysteries, and we are looking forward to meeting those people who do have more knowledge, so we can learn from each other.

Interviewer: Adrienne Costantino, Curatorial Assistant

Researcher: Natalia Nekrassova, Curator

Date and time of interview: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 1:30–1:45 p.m.

Location of interview: Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto, Ontario