As Farhang Shayegan sees it, South Texas buyers today are better aware of other cultures than two decades ago. Arriving from Iran in the early 1980s, Shayegan said his heart remained Persian, and Texans noticed.
When friends and college professors asked about his home country’s beautiful rugs, Shayegan knew he’d found his niche. What started as a way to pay for education became his main source of income, he said.
“In the early eighties, you wouldn’t see too much diversity around,” he recalls of the Valley’s mainly Mexican-American culture. The rugs’ journey into the Valley hasn’t always been a smooth one, he said.
“In the beginning, not many in this area wanted a Persian rug, or knew what it was,” Shayegan recalls. More than an ambassador for his homeland, Farhang Shayegan has been a strong contributor to the Rio Grande Valley’s growing diversity for over 30 years.
“Our products aren’t just ornaments,” he said. “They’re heirlooms of a craft passed on from generation to generation.”
With this in mind, Shayegan is careful to select exclusively unique items for his business, Nasim Rugs, located at 906 E. Business 83 in McAllen.
“Other dealers may have the same pattern in different colors and sizes,”he said. “For us, each of them has to have a soul. Each one-of-a- kind rug has a story to tell.”
A main reason, according to Shayegan, is their long crafting period—up to two years of heart and dedication. “Somebody’s life is in there,” he highlights, making a parallel to the colonial America, when women used to make quilts in the privacy of their homes. This handmade aspect is a factor that Shayegan enjoys sharing with his costumers. “Mass-produced items can be thrown away after a few years,” he notes. “Antiques are even more valuable overtime.”
Besides the status symbol Persian rugs provide, Shayegan is most proud of their historic worth. “Today everything’s become so industrialized,” he comments, “that this tribal art is just vanishing.” Shayegan mentions that as Middle Easterners migrate into big cities, many have forgotten about their ancestors’ arts. “In the near future, we won’t be able to put a price on an authentic handmade rug,” he predicts.
Shayegan continues to show his commitment to Persia’s heritage through his strict selection process. “I pay the same freight by kilo regardless of quality, so there’s no reason to order less than the best,” he assures. After receiving high quality, naturally dyed wool, Shayegan offers a certificate of authenticity with each purchase. “It’ll say where it’s from, how it’s made, how many knots per square-inch, and the value of your rug,” Shayegan adds. “That’s something that you can always hold on to.”