How Persian rug dealer follows Silk Road to Sydney

Although Sydney is about as far away from the Silk Road as you can get, one harbourside family's connection to the ancient trading routes has continued for almost 70 years.

Sourcing hand-stitched, centuries old Persian rugs from places like Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, the Cadry family, like their carpets, rely on an intricately woven network of cooperation stretching from Beijing to the edge of Europe and beyond.

But while these trade routes have largely endured across the ages, the upcoming five year anniversary of China's Belt and Road Initiative highlights the potential to reimagine the ancient Silk Road by radically modernizing its infrastructure links.

Opening his first store in Sydney in 1952 after arriving from Iran, the late Jacques Cadry began selling a product that most Australians didn't fully understand.

With much of the country experiencing a tough economic downturn after the World War II, spending money on strange foreign rugs was far from a priority.

But by focusing on the history and stories behind the carpets, Sydney's oldest Persian rug trader was able to explain to locals what the complex designs represented and why they were so significant.

"Silk was the the most important commodity in the ancient world -- the luxury of silk, the feel of silk, the importance of silk," Jacques' son Bob Cadry, who now runs the business, told Xinhua.

"It was a currency by which powerful rulers could pay their armies and important ministers and it was a way that trade could flourish."

"Chinese silk is of the highest quality, and it's the history and the knowledge of how to produce, dye and harvest the silk yarn that makes China the best in the world, so many of the finest weavers in the world only insist on using the finest pure Chinese silk."

As the most important link between east and west, the pathway through Central Asia was predominantly facilitated through silk, spice and porcelain.

But while these items were extremely valuable, according to Cadry, it was the ongoing exchange of ideas and cultures that truly enriched the vast network of traders.

"Interestingly one of the most important symbols in Persian design came from the influence of the Chinese porcelain design of the cloud band motif," he explained.

"When the weavers in Iran saw them on the beautiful porcelains in the 16th century, they adopted them and copied them into their rugs."

"We see the combination of Central Asian motifs and Chinese motifs merged together in a very beautiful way."

Adopting this love of cooperation and trade, the Cadry brand looked to expand its business in Sydney and abroad.

In the 1970's, Australia had become more affluent and culturally diverse so the demand for exotic items like Persian rugs dramatically began to increase.

Starting with a department store deal, Cadry's then moved to design and create their own customized modern carpets.

"My father started his business in China in early 1980's," Cadry said.

"In fact, I remember I was with him on one of the earliest plane trips that Qantas did from Sydney to Beijing."

"It was a 747 and there were only 10 people in the plane... back in those days, there were few companies dealing with China, but we had very good dealings with China."

Since then, the business has grown even further with commercial manufacturing operations set up in Indian, Nepal as well as China.

But having to ship much of his freight by air, the Sydneysider said there's a great opportunity for countries along the Silk Road to develop more integrated transport links.

"In terms of the transfer of raw materials across the Silk Road, then obviously the roads, the highways, and the trucks need to be developed to facilitate," he said.

"With high volume goods, obviously we need shipping, containers and major ports to work with."

Editor: 董平