ANCA Rallies Against White House Block of ‘Orphan Rug’

An image of the Armenian Orphan Rug, 11'7" x 18'5", and comprised of 4,404,206 individual knots. It took the Armenian girls in the Ghazir Orphanage of the Near East Relief Society 10 months to weave.

Asks White House and Congress to Secure Permanent, Prominent Display of this Powerful Symbol of Shared American and Armenian Heritage

WASHINGTON—Armenian-Americans across the U.S. are calling upon the White House and Congress to secure a prominent and permanent public display of a historic rug woven by Armenian Genocide orphans and presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925, in appreciation for U.S. humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Turkey’s murder of over 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The ANCA campaign was initiated after The Washington Post reported, earlier this week, that a planned December 16th Smithsonian Institution exhibit featuring the rug, organized in conjunction with the Armenian Cultural Foundation and the Armenian Rug Society, was abruptly cancelled when the White House, reversing an earlier affirmative decision, refused to lend the iconic symbol of American and Armenian shared heritage to the museum.

Armenian Americans take action!

Washington Post staff writer and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Philip Kennicott, reported, “There was hope that the carpet, which has been in storage for almost 20 years, might be displayed December 16th as part of a Smithsonian event that would include a book launch for Hagop Martin Deranian’s ‘President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug.’ But on September 12th, the Smithsonian scholar who helped organize the event canceled it, citing the White House’s decision not to loan the carpet. In a letter to two Armenian American organizations, Paul Michael Taylor, director of the institution’s Asian cultural history program, had no explanation for the White House’s refusal to allow the rug to be seen and said that efforts by the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John A. Heffern, to intervene had also been unavailing.”

Kennicott described the controversy as “a sign of the Obama administration’s dismal reputation in the Armenian American community that everyone assumes… must be yet another slap in the face for Armenians seeking to promote understanding of one of the darkest chapters in 20th-century history.”

Read the complete Washington Post article.

The White House response thus far has been vague – with National Security Staff Assistant Press Secretary Laura Magnuson offering the following comment to the Asbarez Armenian Newspaper: “The Ghazir rug is a reminder of the close relationship between the peoples of Armenia and the United States.  We regret that it is not possible to loan it out at this time.”  A statement with the same exact wording was released by the White House last week and included in Kennicott’s article.

President Calvin Coolidge pictured standing on the rug with Near East Relief Vice-Chairman, Dr. John Finley. Source: Barton, Story of Near East Relief, 362. Courtesy: The Missak Kelechian Collection. As published in "President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug," by Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian.

“The White House should simply come clean,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “It’s time for the White House to open up about Turkey’s role, and lay out all the facts about its decision to block the Smithsonian’s exhibit of the Armenian Orphan Rug – a historic, Armenian Genocide-era work of art that speaks powerfully to the common values and shared experiences of the American and Armenian peoples.”

In a letter sent earlier today to President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian reminded the White House that “upon receiving the rug, President Coolidge wrote, ‘The rug has a place of honor in the White House where it will be a daily symbol of goodwill on earth.’ I ask you, in this spirit, to remove any obstacles to the Smithsonian’s display of this historic artwork and to secure a prominent and permanent public home for this powerful symbol of America’s humanitarian values and friendship with the Armenian people,” continued Hachikian.

Placing this latest controversy in context, Hachikian noted that: “since taking office, President Obama has not only failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide, but has actively blocked Congressional legislation (H.Res.252, 111th Congress) to commemorate this atrocity and, through his Solicitor General, officially opposed efforts in the U.S. courts (Arzoumanian v. Munchener Ruckversicherungs-Gesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft AG) to allow American citizens to pursue Genocide-era property claims.  In addition, the Administration has regularly sent senior officials to speak at events organized by Armenian Genocide deniers, while refusing repeated invitations to simply attend Congressional observances of this atrocity.  In these areas, and, sadly, many more, the President has not simply failed to honor his pledge, but rather – in both letter and spirit – worked to fundamentally undermine and reverse the very policies he pledged to pursue.”

According to Dr. Hagop Deranian, the Armenian orphan rug measures 11’7″ x 18’5″ and is comprised of 4,404,206 individual knots.  It took the Armenian girls in the Ghazir Orphanage of the Near East Relief Society 10 months to weave.  A label on the back of the rug, in large hand-written letters, reads “IN GOLDEN RULE GRATITUDE TO PRESIDENT COOLIDGE.”

Additional information about the history of the Armenian Orphan Rug is available in Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian’s book, “President Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug,” published on October 20, 2013, by the Armenian Cultural Foundation and soon to be available on


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  1. Love Love said:

    WHY IS THE PROJECT IN JEOPARDY???? OUR CHILDREN CAN MAKE A NEW RUG AND A REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL ONE, TO SHOW WE HAVE SURVIVED… WE ARE HERE (and we can donate the NEW rug to the White House again)! This will not only embarace our Genuine White House, but %&$! the Turkish Regime.

    This IS NOTHING more than a defamation to our American Culture and History.

    This is not the very first time the word “Armenian” has been omitted in the media and public (even when it had nothing to do with our Holocaust)!! Who do we get involved in these cases? Why is ok to mention your heritage is African American, Latino, Jewish,… but not Armenian???? The only reasons governments ever used supression of groups of people…was…hmmm… you get the picture!

    I enjoy watching chirstian programs, and I am continually and continually am astonished how, when quotes/talks comes to the Noah’s Ark or where Bartholomew and Thaddeus… there was no mention of Armenia associated to it. I.E. When they quoted the Bible about the Noah’s Ark, instead of writting completly where it landed, they mark the word Armenia with “…” DOTS, yes DOTS!!!! Another occasion, when a religious expert was being interviewed about where the Apostles were sent to spread the Christian word…the person said “up North” (and you could tell from this man’s face, he did not want to say the word “North”, but the actual name “Armenia”). Another example that came to mind, when Steve Jobs passed away…news broadcasters quoted an omage to his parents from his book, but they omitted the word “Armenian”…. the examples go on and on, I’m sure if we watched our media carefully, then we would notice more and more.

    This is blacklisting, this is RACIAL, this has nothing to do with our Holocaust!!
    How to Replicate it?
    1. ask for the rug to be seen, to get all the detail
    2. dont’ have time to make a replicate, then with the most high-technology make a digital/hologram version of it… Get creative!!!

    It is MORALLY wrong to continually REINFORCE our AMERICAN Public that any POSITIVE information about the ARMENIANs will affect the USA and Turkish Regime negatively! It is false, it is morally wrong, it is degredading … and more… This is a systematic form of racial profiling.

    If you want the truth, then swallow this: If people did right by the Armenian Holocaust, then the Jewish Holocaust and all other Genocide would of NOT HAVE OCCURED!!!

  2. Ara Boyadjian said:

    This Rug was given to the American People in appreciation for U.S. humanitarian assistance. It belongs to all of US “The American People” thus it must be displayed publicly so that no one is deprived from the pleasure of seeing and enjoying this art work…

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    Thanks to White House, now it will spread more the news and give more people to know about the Orphan Rug

  4. GeorgeMardig said:

    It is a must that every Armenian take this opportunity to explain people about the Orphan Rug, the Genocide, and to explain the real Turks who they are and what they stand for. The treason of Turkey in Irak and Syria which cost unnecessary American soldier lives and Billions of American Tax payers money, NO stronger weapon that the word of mouth, and the 10 million Armenians word of mouth can make the difference. Turkey’s image in US and abroad should be destroyed, there is NO money on earth that can repair the damage once destroyed, 10 MILLION ARMENIANS SPREAD THE WORD

  5. James said:

    Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps the rug was discarded? If the White House continues to refuse to lend the rug, they should at least prove the rug still exists. If what I fear is true, what an abomination.

  6. Suren Tatulian said:

    I voted for Obama two times and I regret it. American officials were hysterical about Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust but they themselves deny Armenian genocide. How ludicrous!

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