A private collection of 24 antique Oriental
rugs will be displayed from Saturday, Feb. 19, through Thursday, May 4, at
the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College. Antique Oriental
Rugs of the Silk Route from the Gregorian Family Collection - is an
exhibition of rugs from the 19th and 20th centuries woven in Iran (Persia),
Turkey, Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, India, and China.
The Gregorians have been in the rug trade since l934 with the
founding of Arthur T. Gregorian Oriental Rugs, now in Newton Lower Falls,
Mass. The company was started by Arthur Gregorian, a refugee from Persia,
who settled in America in the 1920s. Since beginning the rug business the
Gregorian family collection has grown to become a comprehensive survey
course on the history and art of Oriental rugs. The rugs in the collection
are largely unavailable today and include pieces that are never seen in
The exhibition features rugs that exemplify the craftsmanship of
primitive weavers along the original Silk Route which included caravan
paths stretching from the Golden Horn in present day Istanbul to Chinese
seaports, says Arthur's son, John B. Gregorian, curator for the collection
and author of Oriental Rugs of the Silk Route (Rizzoli, New York, June
The exhibit traces the popularity of Oriental rugs among Western
cultures from the 13th century when Europeans established trade with the
East to the present day. Despite their beauty, Oriental rugs were not
highly valued as a trade item until the 16th century, as evidenced by Hans
Holbein and other artists who depicted rugs in their portraits to highlight
the status of their European subjects. A few rugs entered the American
Colonies during the 18th century, but they did not become the rage until
the mid-1800s when fast clipper ships reintroduced Oriental rugs into
elegant homes in the United States through New England harbors such as
Salem and Boston.
Several special events will coincide with the exhibit including an
opening reception and gallery talk, educational programs for children and
adults, and a free rug-evaluation clinic. The exhibit and all programs are
free and open to the public.
For further information, call the gallery at 603-358-2720.
OPENING - 3 P.M., SUNDAY FEB. 20
The Sunday, Feb. 20, opening reception for Antique Oriental Rugs
of the Silk Route will feature a 3 p.m. lecture by John Gregorian,
collector, second-generation rug merchant, and author of the book Oriental
Rugs of the Silk Route, forthcoming in June. He will explain how his
family acquired the collection and share his experiences as a veteran
trader at the bazaars in Iran, Turkey, India, and Pakistan. Also
participating will be collection founder Arthur T. Gregorian, and John's
children, Scott and Melissa, all of whom are active in the family rug
TRASH OR TREASURE NIGHT - BRING YOUR OWN RUG
6 P.M., THURSDAY, MARCH 23
On Thursday, March 23, at 6 p.m. the public is invited to bring to
the Thorne gallery one or two Oriental rugs to be evaluated by John
Gregorian and his son, Scott. The Trash or Treasure Night will not
include a monetary appraisal, but rather the Gregorians will offer a
historical and artistic history of your Oriental rug from its origins to
the approximate creation date and style of the artistry. Advance
registration is required. Call 603-358-2720.
CHILDREN'S PROGRAM - A RUG WEAVER'S TALE
11 A.M. AND 1 P.M., SATURDAY, APRIL 8
The Saturday, April 8, educational program will include two
separate one-hour sessions for children and adults at the Thorne gallery.
A Rug Weaver's Tale workshop for children in kindergarten through third
grade will be offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Melissa Gregorian developed
this hands-on workshop to help young people learn how families work
together to create hand-crafted rugs - from raising sheep to growing roots
and vegetables for dyes to weaving the final product. Advance registration
is required call 603-358-2720.
AUTHOR'S TALK - TALES OF THE SILK ROUTE
11 A.M. AND 1 P.M., SATURDAY, APRIL 8
John Gregorian will lead Tales of the Silk Route for adults at 11 a.m.
and 1 p.m. that will include tips on buying Oriental rugs. His presentation
will cover the people, places, and process that go into creating a rug from
weavers in a remote mountain village in Turkey, to a trading center in
Izmir, and finally to a home in New England. Advance registration is
required, call 603-358-2720.
Visitors to the Oriental rug exhibit may also tour an African art
exhibit through March 19 at the gallery. Images of Africa: Community and
Responsibility is a collection of African wood carving, metal sculpture,
jewelry, and textiles from the Thorne's permanent collection and private
lenders. The exhibition details strategies for living according to African
values that stress the importance of community and responsibility.
Both exhibits will be open by appointment only during the Keene
State College Spring Break March 13-17. After spring break, the Oriental
rug exhibit will remain open until May 4 and will reopen on Sunday, May 14,
for KSC graduation.
The Thorne gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday through
Wednesday and noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The gallery, located on
Wyman Way, is open only when Keene State College is in session.