the 14 of 2014: buying rugs in sarajevo

Over the summer, we did a great road trip that was mostly in Bosnia but also included Split, Croatia. It was great to see more of the region, and we loved visiting the iconic bridge in Mostar, as well as some other, more hidden gems throughout Bosnia and Hercegovina.

While in Sarajevo, we decided to check out the souvenirs and other offerings. WeΒ don’t tend to buy a lot of things when we go places, partly because we go so many places and partly because we have to move so often we don’t want more “stuff” around. We did decide, however, that if we saw a rug or carpet we could actually agree on, it would be something to think about.

Embassy houses are supposed to come with a certain number of rugs per residence; however, when we moved in, we didn’t have any. After seeing what our options were within the embassy pool, we decided to use the ones we had and purchase more if we found any, instead of going with the modern (and often rather ugly) options provided — the modern style would match our apartment but not the Drexel Heritage we were issued!

In particular, I wanted to see if we could find a kilim rug, many of which are made in the region. We ended up going to a small rug shop in a back area of the pedestrian zone in Sarajevo, where we really lucked out. We found a couple of antique rugs and some unique kilims we both loved.

The owner had us sit and talk with him for the better part of an hour. He ordered us coffee, and sat on the floor to chain smoke and talk about the state of the world, of Bosnian politics (“Putin is a snake,” he told us). At one point, he pulled up the leg of his pants to show us a shrapnel wound he received from a sniper: he was a captain during the war.

This was one of those experiences I will treasure forever. I may not have understood the entire conversation (he did not know any English so spoke only in Bosnian), but it was fascinating to listen to him talk about anything and everything. When we next make it back to Sarajevo, we will be sure to stop by his store to say hi, chat a little (or a lot), drink some coffee, and see if there are any more rugs we cannot live without. (We did buy some fabulous rugs, but I will have to share those some other time, as I decided this post would focus on the event surrounding the rug-buying and not the rugs themselves.)

“When you help someone, God helps you,” he said.

rug-seller-in-sarajevo

coffee-in-bosnia

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3 comments

  1. I’m addicted to them πŸ™‚ my grandma used to make kilim rugs on her own but most of them went to ashes as our house was set on fire during the war, so probably my fascination is a genetic thing but anyways… I completely understand falling in love with them:)

      1. I think I love all of them, I could never decide which one to buy if I was you πŸ™‚ Luckily I don’t have to buy it πŸ™‚ In my father’s family the oldest girl learns that stuff from the grandmother and then she’s supposed to carry on and teach it to her oldest granddaughter and so on, they skip the mothers for some reason haha
        hope I’ll manage to learn it before my grandmother dies, it’s a bit difficult when we see each other for a week per year πŸ™‚ I hope they didn’t make you pay a lot more because you’re a foreigner haha

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