Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Armenian leaders in Glendale ask President Obama to display orphan rug

Armenian leaders in Glendale ask President Obama to display orphan rug
Glendale Unified School District President Nayiri Nahabedian signs a letter from Armenian leaders in Glendale to President Barack Obama, urging the White House to display a rug hand-knotted by refugee orphans in 1920 and given to the U.S. in 1925. The tapestries pictured are similar to the Armenian orphan rug.
(Nicole Charky / Web Editor)

Local Armenian leaders urged President Obama on the same day of his arrival at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale to recognize the Armenian genocide and the refugee orphans who spent 10 months hand-knotting a tapestry to thank the United States for its humanitarian aid nearly a century ago. 

Students from the Chamlian Armenian School, representatives from the Armenian National Committee of America and area clergy signed a letter describing why the orphan rug represents the 1.5 million victims of the 1915 genocide during a news conference at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Glendale Youth Center.

It took about 10 months for Armenian genocide survivors living at an American-sponsored orphanage to weave and knot the 12-foot-by-18-foot rug, which was scheduled to display at the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 16.


However, Sept. 12, the Smithsonian scholar canceled the rug exhibit, citing the White House had declined to loan it.

That rug currently sits in the basement of the White House, said Glendale Councilman Zareh Sinanyan.

During the press conference, Sinanyan said he would pass along the signed letter to Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver or Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who were reportedly scheduled to meet with Obama during his visit at DreamWorks.

“All we’re seeking is that a piece of American history be exhibited at the Smithsonian. I certainly hope that President Obama will take the right step in this direction and allow for the rug to be exhibited,” Sinanyan said.


Calvin Coolidge received the rug in 1925, said Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. 

“The rug was a gracious gesture symbolizing the friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. It is part of American history,” Mardirossian said.

Rep. Adam Schiff said he intends to host an event in the Capitol featuring the rug and the history of American diplomats and charitable organizations that provided relief for the genocide victims.

“I will be urging the Administration to make the rug available for display at that time and hope for a favorable response,” he said in a prepared statement.

“The Armenian Orphan Rug should once again be seen by the American people and the world – as a testament to what happened nearly a century ago, and as part of our commitment to the survivors that we will never forget.”


-- Nicole Charky,

Follow on Twitter: @nicosharki.


Street closures announced for President Obama’s visit

Winning $830,000 lottery ticket sold at local store


Mike Gatto at father’s funeral: ‘Our hearts are broken’