Flokati Rugs

Matt Garrett

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Internet lore would have you believe both that Alexander the Great warmed himself with flokati clothing and a flokati-lined tent when he conquered the known world in fourth century B. C. , and that flokati rugs were an invention of fifth century, A. D. , Vlachs.

The same fifth century Vlachs are said to have been inhabitants of Samarina, a Greek village located on the heights of the Pindos Mountains; but Samarina, where the Vlachs did indeed reside, was not established until the 1400s.

So don’t believe everything you read regarding the history, Internet-style, of flokati rugs. What you can believe is that the Vlach culture has always, to some extent, been based on sheep-and-goat-herding, that past herds sometimes contained up to ten thousand animals, and that the animals were shorn in the spring, when the Vlach women cleaned the wool and wove it into clothing and rugs.

Has the Vlach tradition of flokati rugweaving been a lucrative one? Well, yes. The present-day Pindos Mountain village of Metsovo, home to 5,000 Vlachs, is the wealthiest-per-capita municipality in the entire European Union.

That prosperity is due in large part to the fact that flokati rugs, which, along with shag carpeting, were the most popular floor coverings of the 1970s, have seen a resurgence of that popularity. The Baby Boomer generation, with its sentimental streak, has developed a yearning for retro home furnishings, and flokati rugs are near the tops of their lists.

Flokati rugs, 21st century-vintage, are likely to originate from the backs of sheep which frolic on New Zealand, and not Greek, mountainsides. But they are still hand-woven, with piles of varying densities and heights, in Greece, and sent for treatment to the Greek mountains, where they undergo the “friction bathing" which makes flokati rugs unique in the universe of floor coverings.

Each flokati rug is placed, for up to forty hours, in a soap-and–chemical-free whirlpool bath filled with water from canal-channeled mountain streams, and then emerges, not only clean, but decadently thick because water pressure has caused its pile to swell. The flokati rug then is hung up to dry naturally, and “graded’ according to the weight of its wool. The heaviest, most luxurious flokati rugs weigh in at 4000 grams per square meter.

And, in spite of their thorough friction wash, flokati rugs never lose the lanolin that kept the sheep which provided their wool warm and dry, so they have a built-in defense against water-based stains. And some flokati rugs - the label will let you know - can be machine-washed on a wool setting; they must be air-dried in order to keep their woolen backing from shrinking.

If your flokati rug requires hand-washing, place it in a bathtub partially filled with lukewarm water and a detergent designed for fine woolens, and then rinse it with clean cold water and hang it to dry.

In between washings, just shake your flokati rugs to remove any loose dirt and debris; the length of their fibers may damage a vacuum.

Although many people prefer to them in their natural white, or off-white, state, flokati rugs are now available to match any color scheme.

Easy-care, eye-catching, and health-friendly, today’s flokati rugs continue to weave their ancient magical spell!

Author: Matt Garrett - © 2007 1stRugs.Com - Got the rug blues? Get “Rugucated" Today! 21 top tips for rug care to make sure your favorite rug remains your pride and joy for years to come.


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