The letter written by Aleksandr Balayan, published in the News-Press on Nov. 23, needs some clarification. As one who had an Oriental rug business and still has a library on the subject of Oriental rugs, I think that I can shed some light on why there is opposition to the displaying of the Armenian rug at the White House.
One of the critical criteria to evaluate Oriental rugs is the number of knots per square inch. The higher the count of knots per inch the finer the rug. It does not take much imagination to realize that it requires small hands to tie those fine knots. Thus children, mostly little girls, were forced into rug-making. These children sat for hours tying knots. This labor was not of their own choosing and is today considered child abuse. Many Middle Eastern countries have outlawed this child abuse and forced child labor.
Others may call them “happy orphans,” but the bottom line is that the rug was likely made by forced child labor. This rug has no place at the White House. Forced child labor was outlawed many years ago in America — we do not celebrate it.