John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm John Maher and I'm here with the owner of the Rug Gallery Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hi John.
John: So, Sam, today we're talking about Tibetan tiger rugs. So what are Tibetan tiger rugs?
Sam: [laughs] I always wonder what you said about this topic and what will we discuss. It could be a couple of things. For the Tibetans, the tiger is a very powerful symbol and also more of a royal or basically one of their, I want to say religious, but it is a lot in their religion. It has a lot of purpose, a lot of meanings behind it and a lot about character. I've heard lots of translations, but you see a lot of it in the Tibetan paintings.
You see it in the rugs as well. It's a very, very — I wouldn't say uncommon — but fairly common where they kind of reverent of what they think about the tiger. It's hard to explain that in simple words to me. It's more of just a symbol and a feeling.
John: Right. So, I've seen a few different kinds of examples of using the tiger in a rug. One of the original ones that I saw was actually what they called the flayed tiger. It sort of looks like as if you killed a tiger, took its pelt and sort of laid it out so it has its head still on. Like one of those bear rugs that you would see maybe in an old cabin, or something like that with a bear head still there. Of course, it's not a real tiger pelt it's just woven into this rectangular rug but that image is there. Is that just one style of the tiger rugs?
Sam: Yes, that is actually one style. You can actually see them like you said, where they're actually woven so that the arms are not inside of a rug they're just hanging out there flapping in the breeze kind of a thing ... and the tail and the head. It really looks like a true pelt. It's actually woven as a rug to look like a real tiger. We actually own one here at The Rug Gallery, I have it on our wall. It's a very cool piece and we get a lot of attention from it. I've yet to sell it, but it is a very good conversation piece.
A lot of times you'll see it, as you say, in a rectangular shape, round shape or a square shape, whatever they want to make. They'll put a tiger on the field of that particular rug and it will be the focus on a focal point of that rug. The tiger rugs have been around, oh boy, I wouldn't say a thousand years, but it's probably got to be close to that as far as the Tibetan culture and you see it go way, way back. You'll see it in their ceramics. You'll see it in their paintings as well.
John: Have you seen other styles of tiger rugs where it's a little bit — it's not quite just an actual image of a tiger but just sort of the tiger stripes on a rug and things like that?
Sam: Exactly, we do that in Nepal as well as in Tibetan rugs, where we actually take the actual skinned look to it and make a rug out just the stripes or things like that. You can really make it look very modern and contemporary, really I call an abstract tiger. Where it looks — if you really look like, yes, hey, that really is a tiger skin look to the rug, but it's very much a rug, it's not shaped like a tiger or you would pick it up as a tiger pelt.
John: Right. Are these types of rugs really highly sought after?
Sam: I don't think they're highly sought after, but I think people who collect stuff and like interesting things that are not like everybody else, I think and they appreciate the Tibetan culture, what that stands for, I think I would call collector types of people, yes, I think it is highly collectible, but it's only by I think a very limited amount of people.
John: Right. So, on those lines, where would maybe be a good place for me to display a Tibetan tiger rug in my house?
Sam: I think you could put it anywhere. I think you could put it at, if you have an office, you could put at the front of the desk. If you have a foyer, I wouldn't be afraid to use it there.
John: Yes, that'd be fun.
Sam: I think you can display it on a wall, which would be very, very cool on any room that you have a big wall, you want to put something pretty dynamic on like a painting. You could also, you could do that. I think it depends on the size of the rug, where you can use it at, but you can use it in the bedroom, as well foot of the bed or something like that or the side of a bed. I'm all for being very creative with design and color. I always like, when I see something that's not the norm. Everybody wants to be different. I think that would definitely help you, separate you from the pack.
John: Yes. I really like the idea of putting it in the foyer of your house, so that the first thing that somebody sees as they come into your house for the first time is this big tiger image on the rug there. It would just be a really good conversation piece as something that would be interesting to people as they enter your house.
Sam: Yes, very, very cool. I actually have one in front, what I would call it a butler's pantry, which is a hallway between the dining room and the kitchen. I have one in the hallway there that I absolutely love. I'm a big believer in them.
John: I appreciate you speaking with me today.
Sam: You're welcome, John.
John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and oriental rugs and carpets, visit ruggallerycincy.com. That's ruggalleryc-i-n-c-y.com or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes. If you could take the time to give us a review as well, we'd appreciate that. I'm John Maher, see you next time on The Rug Gallery.