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Charlottesville's Indiana Jones:
The life and times of tribal rug trader Saul Borodofsky
Albermarle Magazine, June-July, 1991

By David Schulman

The carpet merchant sits examining a recently arrived gossip mag. This is not the sort of thing a man of such virility and elegance would normally be reading, but friends from the city have sent it to him. Prominently on the front spread is his picture, in color - and not particularly flattering.
"CARPET MILLIONARE!" the headline clamors in Turkish. The merchant translates the blurb aloud: "'...been coming to Turkey 15 years...spends $250,000 a year on carpets!'
"All lies - I don't spend anywhere near that much."
Shaking his head, he continues reading, now with an accent as exaggerated as the reporting: "'...Konya...billions!.. Turkish lira....Barodofsky!'"
The air fills with resonant laughter.
"Well!" he says, "they did get my name right: Saul Yale Barodofsky."
When I enter the Fourth Street textile shop for my first encounter with the carpet merchant, a youthful assistant brings tea, served in slender, shapely cups of cut glass. On a Turkish carpet lies an enourmous - faced mastif, slumbering for now. And all around are the fruits of trade expeditions to Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, the Soviet Caucasus, and elswhere: Wall are hung with geometric carpets and kilims; elsewhere are silks and velvets, colonial British rifles inlaid with mother-of-pearl, figures of Moorih musicians, embroidered bags, and camel decorations - intended, as I later learn, to ward off the evil eye.
Perhaps an exotic scent hangs in the air, but that, likely as not, is only imagination.
We speak of Turkey.Barodofsky has made 40-odd trip there.
"My banker" - he grins broadly - "says I commute."
How, I wonder aloud, does a man named Barodofsky come to trade in the nomadic textiles of the Orient? My wit, however, is not that of Scheherazade, who kept a murderous king at bay by telling stories for some thousand and one nights.The merchant instantly sees through my simplistic tactics.
"Whaddaya want?" he chides me, "a quick sharp lead line? 'I-bought-a-pillow-once-and-it-got-lonely-so -I-got-another-and-rugs-for-the-wall-and-floor-and-pretty-soon-I-had-a-rug-room-and-moved-to-Virginia- to-write-and-became-a-publisher-and-retired-early-and-got-bored-raising-peacocks..'
"Is that what you want?"
The interview is not going as I had planned.
"We were raising peacocks," he assured me. "More tea?"
I stammer, swallow, consult my notes. Fortunately, I - unlike Scheherazade - am allowed the luxury of a second chance. The carpet merchant graciously suggests that I visit again, another day.
"I," he says expansively, "I have a thousand stories..."
  
   Continued on page 2
  
  Sun Bow Trading Company
110 W South Street
Charlottesville, Va 22902

Right off the Mall
Between
The South Street Bed & Breakfast
And
The South Street Brewery
And
Directly behind
The Farmers' Market
(434)293-8821