Inside his Bell Street shop, Mohammad Amin Rahmati weaves a wool string to repair fringe on a rug that’s at least 100 years old. His fingers move effortlessly, as a Bollywood movie plays in the background.
“I remember when this came to Afghanistan,” he said.
When he was 13, Rahmati began to learn about repairing rugs from his father, Mohammad Ali Rahmati, and 21 when he started designing and making them in Kabul.
Now, almost 60 years later, he continues his trade at Oriental Rug Care, 160 E. Bell St., in downtown Sequim.
Whether it’s fixing holes from a dog, burned fringe or just years of use, Rahmati has likely seen it all.
“The worst? Probably moths, because they eat all the way to the bottom and sometimes half of the wool,” he said.
But he’s not deterred.
“If there’s anything wrong with a rug, I can fix it,” Rahmati said.
Another carpet he worked on had a hole eaten away through one side, so Rahmati considered his options. He chose to cut that portion of the rug off with the OK from the customer and do his best to copy one side’s design for the other. He liked the final result.
“Sometimes customers are shocked,” Rahmati said. “One person said, ‘I can’t believe it. This is not my rug.’”
Rahmati said handmade rugs can last more than 100 years and are more durable and softer than machine-made rugs. Plus there’s the personal touch in each one.
“This is like art,” he said.
Despite retiring to Sequim a few years ago, Rahmati considers the shop his post-retirement career.
“I love it,” he said. “It keeps me busy.”
Oriental Rug Care offers imported rugs for sale, and rug restoration, such as washes, reweaving, new fringe and more.
The shop is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, during the winter months, while on Saturdays Rahmati continues a commute to Seattle to continue his 20-year-plus work at Andonian Rugs.
With tense situations continuing to rise in his home country, Rahmati said he is well aware of the ongoing news in Afghanistan as the Taliban continues its control.
“I listen to the news everyday; it’s a bad situation,” he said. “People don’t have jobs, food; they don’t have rights.”
Rahmati is a refugee himself, fleeing from the country in 1980 with his wife Hafiza and six children during the Soviet-Afghan War. When Russian soldiers came, Rahmati said his family was tied up and their home ransacked. His family’s lives were threatened due to their prominence in the community with his father owning a rug factory, he said, with his father and uncle arrested and Rahmati and his cousin going into hiding.
It took about a month, but Rahmati said he was able to secure transport for his family to Pakistan and sell his home and family’s belongings.
He recalls riding on a bus with his family and friends and Taliban soldiers stopped them and asked them where they’re going and what Rahmati did for a living.
“I told him I was a doctor, and they told me they needed a doctor, so they took us to some place (unknown) for a night,” he said.
“The person I paid to help us leave Kabul had family on the bus too, and he was able to help us leave.
“I don’t know why they said they needed a doctor. They never brought it up again.”
Once in Pakistan, Rahmati said he sold general wares to make a living as he applied for his Visa to America as a refugee. After some time and with Visas approved, his family arrived in Los Angeles on Dec. 25, 1982, he said.
He worked for a Persian rug company for one year in the city and then more than a decade in Carmel, Calif., doing repairs before moving to Uzbekistan in 1996 to open his own factory to design and make rugs. He did that for a few years before moving to Seattle and beginning to work with Andonian Rugs about 20 years ago.
His daughter Muzghan “Muzgi” lives in Sequim with him while his five other children live in California and Oregon.
“I’m still steady and going strong,” he said.
“A lot of people have, after 9/11, bad connotations of Afghans. Afghans are good people with big hearts. They love food and are good people.”
Sequim has been his home for five years now; first in Diamond Point, and now near Bell Hill.
His daughter says they’re looking for a business spot along Washington Street in the future to increase foot traffic.
In the few years here, he’s found there to be many who love oriental rugs and his efforts.
“People appreciate his work,” Mugzi said.
The father-daughter welcome people to stop in and just say hi, too.
“With such a small community, we want to get to know people,” Muzgi said.
Reach Oriental Rug Care, 160 E. Bell St., at 360-504-3769.
Oriental Rug Care
Rug repair, sales, wash, more
Owner: Mohammad Amin Rahmati
Location: 160 E. Bell St.