"Only from my father, with whom he had drunk so much tea, could he [the Azerbaijani weaver] ever endure to hear the vulgar words, 'Will you sell me the product of your hands?' After much palavering, and many cautious compliments on the weaver's work...my father would make an offer, the weaver would demand much more, and they would clasp hands -- a clasp which could not be broken until they reached a satisfactory agreement. The final stage of the transaction would seemingly never end, but at last a third party would be called upon to break the deadlock. He would listen to the bitter complaints of each party to the deal, and finally he would set a fair price which they were both honor-bound to accept. The handclasp would be broken, more tea drunk, and the rug would change hands."

-- From Oriental Rugs and the Stories They Tell, by Arthur T. Gregorian (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1967)

* * *