What's 28-feet-by-l8-feet, woven from fine wool, took eight months to complete, and bears approximately 12 million hand-tied knots?
The answer is the new rug covering the floor of the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum's Security Pacific Dining Room, a recent arrival commissioned by the College to replace the Ath's original Persian Sarouk rug. After more than two decades on duty, with literally hundreds of thousands of students, faculty, alumni, and guests treading across it during receptions and dinners, the Persian rug simply had begun to disintegrate, CMCers say.
Help was not far. Thomas Gertmenian '62 P'90 P'95, a partner in the renowned Los Angeles rug-importing firm of G. A. Gertmenian & Sons, stepped into the breach, commissioning a new rug especially for the Athenaeum in Bhadohi, India. Woven of lustrous WOOl from New Zealand, the knotting alone On the replacement took a dozen people working together for about eight months. The finish work — shearing, edging, washing, fringing, etc. — took three additional months to complete.
The resulting rug is considered rare because of its grand size: a monumental 28 feet by 18 feet.
On the occasion of the arrival of the new rug in Claremont, Gertmenian said, "As graduates, my sons, Peter and Charles, and I are thankful to CMC and are honored to be able to donate this rug, which should serve the Athenaeum for very many decades."
Athenaeum director Bonnie Snortum says the impressive floor covering, already welcoming new generations of visitors to the Ath, is a tempting addition. "I have the urge to take off my shoes and go barefoot whenever I step into the room," Snortum says. "But I remain silent as to whether I have ever succumbed to that urge. The entire ambience of the room has been enhanced by the addition of such a beautiful work of art."