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Egyptian Rugs and Carpets: Made in Egypt

08.07.08 | 20 Comments
Egyptian rug megerian brothers
An exquisite Egyptian rug by Megerian Brothers Oriental Rugs. Most Megerian carpets, like this one, are made after old Sultanabad designs.

Egyptian rugs are an anomaly, or so it seems to me. On one hand, just a few rugs and carpets from Egypt reach these shores each year, yet some of these are among the best rugs in the world.

Most people don’t think of Egypt as a source of Oriental rugs. New Egyptian rugs are almost never included in books on the subject because, first of all, new Oriental rugs of any nationality are rarely written about in books, and, secondly, Egyptian rugs today do not have a recognizable Egyptian ‘look’. Nearly all are based on Persian designs.

Egypt has a rug-weaving tradition that dates back to at least the sixteenth century. After a brief period of glory, though, it seems to have gone into abeyance until after World War Two. The birth of the handmade carpet industry in modern Egypt dates to the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, when the importation of carpets from Iran ceased.

Egyptian rug weaver
A young Egyptian rug weaver at an A. Moustafa loom near Cairo, Egypt.

As I was researching the current production of rugs in Egypt, I became aware that a very large Egyptian producer of rugs was just then planning to launch a new U.S. division. The Egyptian company is A. Moustafa, one of the earliest rug producers in modern Egypt starting operations right after 1952. Today, Moustafa employs thousands of weavers, young men and women who have reached 15 years of age and have completed nine years of schooling. For some, weaving is a family enterprise, but most are trained by the Moustafa staff.

Moustafa produces rugs and carpets in Persian designs with either Egyptian or Merino wool, or silk, in synthetic dyes and machine-spun pile. The Moustafa family denies that there are more than ‘six looms in Egypt’ weaving rugs with natural dyes. As this book goes to press, professional photographs are not available of the carpets the company will import to America, but we see glimpses of fascinating pieces on the loom or in the process of being finished. It will be interesting to see how a well-established Egyptian firm will fare in America as they jump into the decorative rug market.

Egyptian rug by Megerian brothers
An ivory field Egyptian carpet by Megerian brothers, also based on an old Persian Sultanabad design.

The most respected American firm weaving rugs in Egypt is Megerian Brothers Oriental Rugs of New York. Indeed, Megerian is among the most respected of all rugmakers today. The Megerian family has been in various facets of the rug business since 1917, including the repair of antique rugs and carpets. Their orientation toward antiques and their perception that old carpets were becoming fatally scarce eventually led them to reproduce antique pieces.

Today, Megerian’s Egyptian production is almost exclusively in Sultanabad designs; that is, curvilinear, formal designs based on the weavings of the Sultanabad district of Iran around the year 1900. They are produced with a mixture of natural and chrome dyes and with handspun wool. People outside the family who are familiar with the production attest to the attention to detail lavished on every Megerian carpet. Each is inscribed in Armenian with the Megerian family name.

20 Comments

  • On 08.23.08 Hisham wrote:

    thanks for this great topic , i hope u can add mor info. about carpet industry in Egypt .

  • On 01.31.09 frannycole@comcast.net wrote:

    I live in New Jersey. Is there a dealer in my area. My zip code is 08033

  • On 08.18.09 rmpatisha@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

    Hi,
    kindly help me with the companies that manufuning the the carpets in Egypt, i saw some carpets in south Africa from Egypt.We are big buyers of carpets in Zambia.
    Thanks,
    Richard.
    Zambia.

  • On 11.10.09 harriet wrote:

    I have a rug, I got it as a gift from a relative. I don’t know what type, he thinks it may be Egyptian.

  • On 12.21.09 Patti Hair wrote:

    I have an Egyptian Rug that my friend’s husband bought 30 years ago, she said she has the papers on it and will get them for me. She said it is worth a lot of money and has about 856 threads or something. I know nothing about these things, what do you think it is worth? It is in good shape, no threads loose or anything. He was from Cairo and it was his pride and joy.

    Sincerely Patti

  • On 06.26.10 leeandra79@gmail.com wrote:

    I have an Egyptian Rug that my mom bought for me from an Egyptian rug weaver while she was on holiday in Egypt in 2002. She told me she paid $1200 American for it. I would like to sell it if at all possible. It is in perfect shape.Please email me if you have any idea of what it might be worth thanks, Lee Andra

  • On 06.28.10 Richard wrote:

    Lee Andra,
    Without a photo there is no way I can make an assessment. Feel free to email a photo to the above address.

  • On 10.02.10 omar ahmed wrote:

    hay i am egyptian and i went today to egypts rug weaving center fowa , i saw the rug weavers and the whole process, belive me when i say a 2m*3m rug take around 40 days if 3 workers were working in full time

  • On 05.09.11 Melania wrote:

    I found arug that I loved at a Yard sale. Is ia a caggeh 100% olofin 5’3″ by 7’9″. The only number on it was ISO 9001 what can you tell me abput it and how to clean it

  • On 05.09.11 Melania wrote:

    I do not know how to send a picture

  • On 06.09.11 antonioemilioferreira@hotmail.com wrote:

    Good afternoon!
    Is there any tipology of Carpet: Egiptian Agra?
    Thank You very much.

  • On 12.31.11 mido wrote:

    Melania:
    This rug is an Oriental Weavers machine made area rug. Oriental Weavers as I heard is the one of the leading companies in the world that produces machine made area rugs. It is based in Cairo, Egypt, however they have production plants all over the world. I would recommend you use a warm damp towel and gradually go over stained spots on the rug. If so fails, then try using one of the area rug cleaning detergents sold at any hardware store. Hope this helped!

  • On 05.25.12 justin wrote:

    I have a rug that i inherited from a friend an E-7 navy chief. It is made from camel hair and bought in Egypt about twenty years ago…it supposley cost some where around $2000 how can i verify this.

  • On 07.01.12 Melania wrote:

    I found a gabbeh collection power loomed rug with #1s09001 on the tag. It is a beautiful blue flowered rug that someone cut the fringe off on side. It cleaned up nicely but I have no place for it. We live in a small ranch house. It is 90″ by 62″. Could you give me an idea of its worth?

  • On 07.03.12 admin wrote:

    Hi Melania, if you have a question about a rug you own, feel free to email us at expert@internetrugs.com. Be sure to include a photo of the rug! Please be patient as we get very many of these requests.

  • On 11.17.12 Lubi from Egypt wrote:

    Actually, Egypt has a very strong tradition of carpet making and there are hundreds of rug manufacturers in Egypt ranging from small workshops that make handwoven carpets to enormous corporations producing both handwoven and machine-woven carpets. The designs are just as varied. There are ethnic Egyptian designs and styles while many are inspired by Persian and Turkish carpets. And, the best part is that carpets in Egypt are very affordable, even the handmade ones.

  • On 12.06.12 Barry O'Connell wrote:

    Hello Emmett,
    Very nice article. I am doing an appraisal on a Egyptian Silk rug and this article is very helpful.
    Best wishes,
    Barry

  • On 12.06.12 Victor Franco wrote:

    I have a good collection from the Megerian signature I ma happy to see this article on Egyptian Rugs.

  • On 10.14.13 Vickie Lightfoot wrote:

    I have a rug.The label says it is a Dalyn. It also says it is 100% VELVET SET. IT SAYS IT WAS MADE IN EGYPT AND HAS A CERTIFICATED COMPANY NUMBER: ISO 9001. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT IT ?

  • On 01.16.14 Erin Moffitt wrote:

    Hello, we lost a rug in a move so I need to know the value I should claim. It was a hand woven Egyptian cotton rug purchased in Cairo in circa 1998. It was well taken care of and roughly 10′x12′.

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