Azerbaijan Attempted to Appropriate The “Armenian Orphan Rug”

Azerbaijan Attempted to Appropriate

Moris Misak-Kelechyan’s presentation of the “Armenian Orphan Rug” dedicated to the unique Gazir carpet woven by the hands of Armenian girls who escaped from the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 recently took place at the Glendale Central Library.

The Azerbaijani side made some provocative statements, claiming that the carpet and its ornaments were supposedly “originally Azerbaijani”. According to an article from the Azerbaijani information website, the Gazir rug allegedly belongs to the “Azerbaijani Tabriz school”, and this is allegedly indicated by the eight-pointed star located in the center of the carpet (Azerbaijan has nothing to do with the eight-pointed star).

It should be noted that even this only “argument” of the Azerbaijani side does not withstand any criticism. In the center of the Armenian carpet is by no means an eight-pointed star. It can be seen even with a naked eye that the central ornament in addition to eight pointed corners also has four protrusions with rounded ends which form a cross – a symbol of Christianity. This ornament as a whole is the so-called sprouted or blooming cross, an ornamental type of cross common in Armenian medieval culture.

However, even if we admit that this ornament is an eight-pointed star, it still does not speak in favor of the version of the Azerbaijani side since such a symbol was often used by early Christian artists and was called the Star of David (read more: The Six-Pointed Star in Armenian Culture), which in turn had more ancient roots. In this context, the phrase “Azerbaijani ornament” is not acceptable given the fact that the aforementioned Tabriz carpet school is Iranian.

Note that the carpet contains more than 4 million knots and is also decorated with patterns of plants and animals symbolizing the blooming garden of Eden. The ornamental pattern of the carpet suggests that it depicts scenes associated with the biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Recall that the “Armenian Orphan Rug” was woven in an orphanage in the Lebanese city of Gazir by four hundred girls who earned a living on the sale of carpets and contributions from the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (now Near East Foundation).

On December 4, 1925, the carpet was presented to US President Calvin Coolidge in gratitude for the assistance provided to the Armenians during the years of the Genocide. President Coolidge, leaving the White House, took the carpet with him, and it was kept in his family until 1980. The Coolidge family returned the carpet to the White House in 1982 where it would be kept since then.

Despite pressure from Turkey, on November 18-23, 2014, the famous Gazir rug was displayed in the White House visitor hall as part of an exhibition titled “Thank You to the United States: Three Gifts to Presidents in Gratitude for American Generosity Abroad.” World media covered the exhibition, noting episodes of its history.

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