Some say Persians valued their rugs so much that kings were buried with them. Many of their designs flow from a history two-and-a-half thousand years deep. Then there are the competitive Chinese, whose history with area rugs runs all the way back to the days of the Silk Road. Their perfectionism and marked difference to Persian rugs has even allowed them to get the upper hand.
We are used to images of the wine connoisseur whose delicate tongue can determine minute differences in the most subtle tastes of the grape. Car enthusiasts who diligently spend fortunes to obtain and maintain classic cars are another familiar image of passion.
Al Gertmenian of the same-named company shares the same kind of passion for area rugs. The company scours the world for not just the best Persian and Chinese area rugs, but Indian and Pakistani ones too. Inheriting a family tradition in place at the company started over 80 years ago, you could call him the Gordon Ramsay of area rug enthusiasts. Like the famed chef, he is ruthless, and won't accept anything but fresh material, or hand-made rugs. He flits about the world, testing and viewing rugs, accepting only the few that meet his rigorous standards for beauty and excellence.
While the rest of us may not be aware of anything such as rising and falling trends in a cut-throat area rug market, now entering its third generation of family-operated business, the Henry Gertmenian Company are not only deeply aware, but invested in maintaining their honesty among the diverse lines that meet their standards. It may seem silly for some to consider the history and identity of something that goes beneath their feet as they step on it daily. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of their selectors shows in the astonishing and breathtaking Gertmenian carpets procured from around the world.
Sure, you or I may not know why Al Gertmenian is hemming and hawing on the dye process of a certain area rug from a specific region in India, but the results of his selectivity do not lie. Whether they be from the proud Pakistani tradition that has sprung up in recent years or inspired ancient Chinese Taoist principles, something of the sublime, the luxurious and the exotic comes through in these rugs.