“As Precious As Gold” –
Persian rug exhibit at Currier Museum;
Nashua business PRG Rugs supporting exhibit
On exhibit through Feb. 2022
As Precious as Gold, Carpets from the Islamic World, will be on view at the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, through February 27, 2022. The exhibit features 32 carpets and one tent dating from the 15th–19th centuries.
This exhibit is supported by longtime Nashua family business PRG Rugs, 227 Main Street, Nashua. “The Currier reached out to us (about supporting the exhibit),” said Fouad Mahfuz, of PRG Rugs. “They gave us the opportunity to sponsor (the exhibit, as) the oldest and probably largest rug store in New Hampshire at this point. It was a no-brainer for us.”
Mahfuz said he had seen part of the collection at the MET in New York. “ My dad (well-known business owner Sy Mahfuz) and I had always discussed a way to collaborate with the Currier, and this was a perfect opportunity,” he said.
On loan from the Saint Louis Art Museum, this collection is considered one of the most significant in the world. The rugs are laid out in chronological order, creating a fascinating journey for the visitor, who can watch the evolution of the geometry, symmetry and asymmetry, color schemes and other design elements over the centuries.
Attendees will likely be amazed at how many of these ancient creations have retained their vibrancy and condition. This writer was moved and impressed by the work, including complex and beautiful rugs created by nomadic women. The pieces are all the more incredible considering the creators’ lack of modern equipment to accomplish it.
The “pleasure tent,” used for outdoor gatherings, is among the star attractions. Until recently, it was one of the only examples of such works in American museums.
“There is one modern rug in the exhibition that the Currier owns, by an amazing artist named Faig Ahmed,” Mahfuz adds. The piece in question is an astonishing trompe l’oeil by this Azerbaijani contemporary visual artist, best known for his surrealist weavings which integrate visual distortions into traditional oriental rugs. The exhibit rug was hand-made by experts, based on his exacting calculations, and looks like it’s melting off the wall. It’s truly a stand-out of your visit.
The textiles featured in the exhibition are organized according to geographical origin and style, with brief introductions that provide more detailed art historical information for each group. The exhibition will describe how this art form evolved and spread beyond the East, allowing the visitor to experience the extraordinary combination of color and texture, form and function, meaning and mystery.
The Mahfuz family is happy to have a role in presenting this wide-ranging exhibit to New Hampshire. “PRG Rugs today is primarily a modern rug or area rug store, specializing in all styles and qualities of rugs. But our roots are in Persian and Oriental rugs,” Fouad said. “Sy is a licensed appraiser and a Persian rug expert. We still sell many traditional and Persian rugs, and we clean and repair thousands every year.
“The industry has changed to more modern styles, and we change with the times and fashions,” Mahfuz continued. “Persian rugs will always be beloved, and this exhibit proves that. No matter their taste in their home, people appreciate the art and history of antique Persian and oriental rugs and carpets. We are so proud to be the sponsor of this exhibit and thrilled the Currier brought it to New Hampshire and included us,” he said.