I’m Michael A.C. Christie and I am The Ruggist.
The Ruggist has always been an extension of my persona; a nom de plume if you will reflecting my love and passion for handknotted rugs and carpets. But it is also a clin d’œil towards irreverence insomuch that no discussion of aesthetics or taste – good, bad, or otherwise – can demand objectivity; it simply cannot as the good, better and best of anything, let alone something simultaneously as trivial and important as handknotted rugs and carpets is merely our collective agreement on what constitutes those values. Said another way, it’s subjective and I am equally as convinced that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.
Of course, as a self-proclaimed aesthete with singularly discerning taste, my opinion – despite these prior admonitions – is superior to yours, and let me tell you why!
I’ve been critiquing, chronicling, and commenting on the handknotted rugs and carpet trade since 14 July 2008, but my initiation into said trade predates that day by more than a decade. It was Winter 1996, I was fresh from University, the only thing I knew about rugs was that they went on the floor and I thought carpet was only installed wall-to-wall. I didn’t know the difference between machine-made and handknotted, I had no ancestral connections to the trade, and I needed a job.
I started at a retail rug showroom in an entry level position, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, delivering rugs, maintaining the showroom; in short, I did all the monotonous – or is that menial? – tasks one might describe as the ‘downstairs’ or ‘blue-collar’ work supporting a merchant class catering to the ‘upstairs’ consumers of handknotted rugs and carpets.
Decades since my initial naiveté my experience has grown in breadth and depth; a refection of my continuing desire to learn more about the craft of handknotted rug and carpet making, carpetry* as I prefer to call it, and the global commercial trade thereof. I’ve sold rugs at the retail, trade, and wholesale levels. I’ve worked for importers. I’ve failed at manufacturing my own hooked rugs. All the while amassing the experience and expertise to establish myself as an authority on the subject matter, especially when it comes to the genre of modern production Nepali-Tibetan rugs and carpets. Throughout this journey I have also learnt how to dye wool, build a loom, warp and dress a loom, and most recently how to knot and weave a Tibetan style carpet; this latter achievement a point of great pride and accomplishment.
Now known widely as ‘The Ruggist’ my writings and observations appear here on this website and my social media channels (Most usually as @theruggist), and in the past have appeared in COVER and HALI Magazines, ECS Nepal, Nepal Carpet Magazine, as well as Rug Insider Magazine; I likewise served as Editor of the latter from 2017 until 2020. Since 2018 I have been honoured to serve as the Brand Ambassador of Handmade Nepalese Carpets for the Nepal Carpet Manufacturer’s and Exporter’s Association (NCMEA).
I now consult with a variety of individuals and firms who see a different way forward for carpetry, and my ongoing fieldwork in the country of Nepal continues to foster both this work and a forward looking perspective on adapting carpetry to the needs of this era and the future.
Handwërk* such as handknotted and handmade rugs and carpets is anachronistic in this age of ever more efficiencies and automations and the ascendent abilities of artificial intelligence + robotics. As a neo-luddite of sorts I advocate not for the abolition of labour eliminating machines, but rather an equitable distribution of wealth generated by automation and a concurrent preservation of traditional craftsmanship through a fair and proper financially incentivized appreciation of work done by hand.
Jocularly and rhetorically, I challenge you to locate another individual with as comprehensive experience[!] Oh, don’t get me wrong, they do exist, but only in the handfuls worldwide.