ARMENIAN RUGS AND CARPETS
“I, Gohar, full of sin and weak in soul, with my newly trained hands wove this rug in 1149. Whosoever reads this say a word of mercy to God for me”. This is a woven inscription from one of Armenia’s most famous and historic rugs called The Gohar Carpet.
The history of rug making in Armenia is a rich and complex as the woven designs on the rugs themselves. Travelers have long admired the artistry and quality of the craft. While traveling through Cappadocia the famous Italian explorer Marco Polo commentated that “The Armenians and Greeks in the three major towns of Konya (lkonio), Kaiseri (Caesarea) and Sivas (Sebastia) made the most beautiful and finest rugs”.
Carpet fragments have been discovered in burial sites and dwellings of the Highlands dating from the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. While no complete rugs from this period have survived stone carvings and historical documents clearly indicate to the importance of this art form during that period.
Armenian rug making achieved its top glory during the 15th and 17th centuries when skill and craftsmanship reached unprecedented levels in the southern and eastern provinces of Armenia. The vishapagorg or “dragon-rug” from this period includes the swastika symbolizing water and snake. These intricate geometric designs contain both beauty and symbolism and are still found in many contemporary designs along with the traditional color combinations of vibrant reds and rich blues. Historians believe the unique shades of red achieved in these medieval carpets were the result of a dye made from a colorful worm (cochineal) found only in the soil of Armenia.
After years of neglect due to political and economic obstacles, the rug business in Armenia is experiencing a renaissance, thanks to the Megerian family of New York. The Megerians came out with an initiative to rebuild the industrial infrastructure necessary for Armenia to produce top quality rugs once again. The Megerians emigrated to the U.S. from Armenia, and established a successful international rug company bearing the family name. Their skill at repairing the antique rugs handed down from generations, earned them a reputation for fine restorations. Their New York showroom is an essential stop for the most influential interior designers.
They expanded their operations to Armenia in 2001. As native Armenians the Megerians wanted to help restoring their country’s broken economy through job creation in the rug industry. Consequently they acquired Armen Carpet, a leading rug manufacturing firm, and began refurbishing and updating the factories that drastically needed a repair. Today the Megerians own 22 factories employing 2000 weavers throughout Armenia that produce handmade Armenian rugs.
Armen Carpet is an example of a business that uses maintains traditional standards and practices while incorporating contemporary taste and ideas. Master craftsmen still use individual and characteristic touches to create stunning patterns. While many patterns echo with ancient traditions there are also more modern motifs with bolder shapes and more monochromatic palettes that incorporated into today’s interiors. Hand-woven rugs of Armenia bear the name or initials of the weavers, giving each work of art a connection to its Armenian original roots.
The Armenian people have played an important role in the creation, development and perfection of rug making. Today the Armenian artists and skilled masters under the Megerian Family’s expertise are the bearers of the centuries old traditions of Armenian rug making.