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Magic Carpets

A visitor hears only the sound of Charlie, the yellow Labrador, thumping his tail on the Italian ceramic tiles in the kitchen. Not Vinay Pande, though. He's in the living room, gazing at a pile rug, an ensi, woven out of goat wool in the late 1700s by nomads in Turkmenistan, and he's transported by his magic carpet.

"When I look at this I hear music," Vinay confesses, his brown eyes dancing to the imaginary sound of tonal episodes. "I hear a Bach fugue."

The smallish rug, about three feet by five feet, is one of the oldest examples of a Turkoman Tekke ensi on record, says Vinay, a hedge fund manager who is also a member of the Hajji Baba Club, the oldest known rug society in the world. Hundreds of years ago, the rug covered the entrance to its weaver's tent. Today, it hangs like a work of art on a mustard-colored wall in Vinay and Shonu Pande's house in Greenwich. The ensi appears rather monotonous at first: four red quadrants containing fewer than a dozen wishbone shapes on black lines, ringed by a red, black and white border. But upon closer inspection, the rug exhibits its personality: a red dye from the root of the madder plant that is so deep it's the color of blood, pile densely woven out of handspun wool, dozens of flowers woven into diamonds, swirls, lines and angles.