Essa Farrah manages Farrah Oriental Rugs on King Talal Street in Downtown Amman. The family business, which began in Hebron, Palestine in 1910, relocated to Amman in 1960. His great-grandfather, Ahmed, used to trade rugs, fleeces, sheepskins, and self-manufactured Bedouin coats. Today, the business mostly deals in antique and handmade rugs. Essa’s father, Ahmed Jr., introduced the manufacturing aspect to curb waning supply chains upon inheriting the business from his father, Khaled. The store’s range of various wool, cotton, silk, and synthetic pieces spans from JOD10 to JOD2,000. The Farrahs also offer an extensive rug restoration service as well as upholstered furnishings, other antiques, and traditional souvenirs.
Nowadays, sales to Jordanians dominate the majority of the company’s transactions -- a result of the slump in tourism caused by conflicts in the countries surrounding Jordan. According to Essa, “In the past, tourists made up around 70 percent of business, but now it’s more like 15 percent”. This change in customer demographic has greatly altered the business in recent years, especially as locals and foreigners differ greatly in buying taste and habit.
Many shops in Amman areas like Abdoun or Sweifieh have only high-priced pieces. Essa’s shop in Downtown, however, boasts a wide range of products at a wide range of prices, matching the variety of customers that may stumble into his shop on any given day. According to Essa, “from modest Jordanians, tourists from across the globe can all find something here. ”Aside from inclusivity in prices and demographics, Essa’s products themselves are also unique: from carpets of purely traditional design to mixes of motifs and colors from around the world. Essa highlights iconic Iraqi turquoise, Afghani mulberry, Indian saffron, and imperial red in one piece alone, a feat that Karaki weavers of the forgotten past would have never been able to do. Along with this, the majority of rugs are handmade on traditional looms in the shop itself, adding another layer of value and uniqueness.
Essa asserts that rugs, even heritage designs, still have a place in the modern home: “Put it under your coffee table, run it along a hallway, frame it and hang it, even use it as a bedspread; that’s all great”. Through his business, Essa hopes to keep the appreciation for antique and traditional handmade rugs alive, providing a means by which generations both young and old may connect with their heritage and make it part of their lives.