Hali Issue 154 Megerian Rugs Article

Carpets and rugs have been regarded as a necessity in Armenian domestic life for generations, and Armenian artisanship, especially rug weaving, dates back thousands of years and remains popular in the world market today.

The Megerian family, originally from Armenia and based in New York, have been involved in the buying, selling, cleaning and repairing of fine hand-made rugs and tapestries for 90 years – an anniversary that was proudly celebrated in 2007 in Atlanta at the AmericasMart where the company has permanent showrooms.  Established in 1917, in Manhasset, New York, Megerian Rugs was fundamental in revitalizing traditional Armenian rug weaving and Armenian artistic creativity after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  John Megerian, the eldest of four brothers who will continue the business, became Chief Executive Officer of the company in 2006. He represents the fourth generation to lead a business that prides itself on producing high-end, hand-knotted reproductions of original antique rugs, drawing inspiration for their own decorative designs from the classic beauty of the originals.

Initially, Megerian Rugs’ focus was solely on selling new and antique rugs.  However, over time, they began to apply their extensive understanding of natural dyes, wool characteristics and Old World knotting techniques to restoring customers’ existing antique Perian, Aubussons, Savonneries and other types of rugs.  Then as time went on and antique oriental rugs becoming scarcer, Megerian expanded the business in the early 80’s taking their expertise directly to the loom to produce delicately modified reproductions of antique originals successfully blending Old World craftsmanship with today’s design aesthetics.  A highlight of Megerian production is that each design is copyrighted and signed to mark its high end-quality and individuality.

Their production has taken hold in several countries including Egypt, Armenia, Romania, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China.  Megerian rugs also operates 22 rug-weaving facilities within Armenia with thousands of employees. In addition to its 5th Avenue location in New York City, the company has showrooms in Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany.

Traditional Armenian natural methods of dyeing yarn date back through the centuries.  The Armenian city of Artashat, for example, was renowned for its “ordan” dye  -- the Arab Historian Yaqut al-Hamawi has described it as “the city of the color red”.  Striving to remain faithful to the methods that created the original rugs, Megerian Rugs uses wool from the country of production, regional dyes and traditional weaving techniques.  Most of the natural dyes they use are derived from flowers, roots and plants from the Armenian Highlands: vivid reds are derived from the root of the Taron flower.  The majority of the weavers are second or third generation craftsmen.  The company prides itself on taking great care in the finishing of each rug, paying painstaking attention to detail. This process is carried on overseas, as well as at the company’s US facilities in Brooklyn, NY.  Raffi and Thomas Megerian (John’s father and uncle respectively) who own the company, travel extensively to oversee the worldwide operations. 

Having expanded its manufacturing operations in Armenia, new designs and color ways of Megerian rugs are offered.  These include Mahals which are reproductions of antique Persian Carpets; Karabaghs which consist of interpretations of European floral motifs inspired by the original ones woven by Armenians in the late 19th century; and Lottos, derived from the artworks of the famous Italian painter Lorenzo Lotto. All these designs are now also available as runners.  Megerian Rugs produces contemporary designs too.  In the last 10 years, the company has begun adding some Art Deco styles to their collections with high-end contemporary styles in its Artex and Armenian lines.  In addition, the production line in Egypt is being expanded and includes the latest lines of Coptic Mamluks originally created in the 16th

Century in Egypt  and characterized by jewel tone colors and intricate patterns featuring designs based on geometric patterns and stylized leaf forms and decorative Oushaks originally from Western Anatolia.  These new collections were proudly included in their showrooms in Atlanta in 2007 thus a fitting demonstration that the rich Megerian tradition continues to grow and inspire. 

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