Armenian rugs / Carpet

Armenian Carpet

Armenian Highland is one of the ancient carpet weaving centers. The Armenian carpet has had different names throughout its history. The word “carpet” can be found in Armenian literature as far back as the 5th century AD, in the translation of the Holy Bible. The word “carpet” has always been synonymous with the word “rug”. Another notable name is “khali” or “ghali”, which comes from the Arabic name Karin (Kalikala), the city that was famous for its carpet weaving art.

The  Characteristics of Armenian Rugs

Armenian rugs had harmonic colors of red, white, blue, green, yellow and their variants. The yellow color came from the yellow flower, the red color from Armenian cochineal (vordan karmir) and from the roots of dyer’s madder (rubia tinctorm), green and some shades of brown from nut peels. For black, they used pomegranate peels. For blue, they used the method of mixing different colors, but more often than blue they used indigo from a famous colorant that was imported from India. In the Middle Ages, Armenian carpets were very famous for their shades made of vordan karmir, for which reason they were also called “red rugs” during the Arabic period. One of the characteristics of Armenian rugs is the «Balbas» sheep wool that was used as a raw material. Anchorian goat wool was also widely used. In the regions where the cotton and silk cultivation was developed they used also silk and cotton. 

Armenian rugs / Carpet

Armenian rugs / Carpet

The most characteristic features of Armenian rugs are their ornaments. Armenian rugs had a lot of ritual, image and ideal ornaments. The ornaments used in Armenian carpets were also widely used in sculpture, miniature painting, architecture and silverware.

Vishapagorg (Dragon Rug)

Perhaps the most widespread type of Armenian carpet is the “Vishapagorg”. Dragons were the most common symbols in Armenian Highlands. They did not always signify the bad or evil, but an element which can be both good and bad. This is why the whole subtype of Armenian rugs got their name. Dragons were depicted in images as purely good forces and had a significance of protection and support. The tradition of weaving vishapagorgs in Armenian carpet art and the cultural system dates back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BC. 

Armenian rugs / Vishapagorg

Armenian rugs / Vishapagorg

Vishapagorgs usually had ornaments of dragons, the tree of life, phoenixes, and symbols of eternity. These rugs have a special meaning for Armenians. It is the symbol of victory. The god of war and power was called Vishapaqagh, which mean “the conqueror of dragons and evil”. Armenians believed that is they had a vishapagorg in their house, they would be safe from evil, as they have already conquered the dragon.

Carpet Weaving: an Art and a Craft

Due to the carpets’ being formed in a certain ethnic environment and for serving special needs, they have gone through a lot of changes and have gained new uses. The rugs have never simply served as a household object but have always had a great ritual meaning. This is why carpets are so important in Armenian culture. Throughout the ages, the carpets have been national symbols and have had unique historical and cultural value. There are carpets whose ornaments hide a whole life story. The ornaments have memory and sometimes they carry the voices of the people of the past. 

Armenian rugs / Carpet

Armenian rugs / Carpet / Photo from Megerian Carpet

Carpets were also thought to have curing features, not only because they were made of natural wool and the threads were colored by natural paints, but there were also thought to be certain meaning in their ornaments. The old and sick member of the family always lied in the place where they had a carpet. There was difference between the rugs that were put on the floor and the rugs that were hung on the walls. Carpets with special ornament were hung on the walls and a lot of valuable things, musical instruments, pictures of dead relatives were put on them. The carpets that were put on the floor also had interesting ornaments, but they didn’t have special ritual meanings or the symbols of their ancestors.

Armenian Rugs Today

Armenian carpets have their unique place in Armenian culture. Despite technological innovations Armenian carpets remains as an inseparable part of living and cultural heritage. Armenian rugs don’t lose their value in spite of scientific and technical development. The traditions of Armenian carpet weaving still continues showing the world the unique art of Armenian carpets.

Armenian rugs / Carpet

Armenian rugs / Carpet / Photo from Megerian Carpet

“Megerian Carpet” company that opened up in Armenia in 2000 produces Armenian carpets, renews and saves antique Armenian carpets. Staying faithful to old traditions “Megerian carpet” company uses the country wool, the paints of the region and the traditional technologies.

The traditions of Armenian carpet weaving was also saved in Artsakh. “Kharabakh Carpet” company was found at 2013 was founded in 2013 in Artsakh. The company produces traditional Armenian carpets especially typical of Artsakh carpets. The company produces also eco rugs, that are made of natural and not tined threads, saving the traditional procedure. The eco rugs can be a new business  card for Artsakh.

Armenian rugs / Carpet

Armenian rugs / Carpet / Photo from Megerian Carpet

Besides the above mentioned companies you can see exclusive samples of Armenian carpets in History museum of Armenia, Sardarapat Natiaonal Ethnological museum, National center of Armennian carpets, Hovhannes Sharambeyan Folk Center and the Dzitoghtsyan Museum of National Architecture.

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