Armenian ornaments are an integral part of the Armenian identity. It is impossible to imagine Armenian culture without the various patterns found in different fields. Today we will talk about the use of ornaments in national costumes (Taraz) and carpet weaving.
Armenian Ornaments on the National Costume
The national clothing, the Armenian Taraz, is a reflection of Armenian people’s thinking. It not only expresses their identity but is one of the signals that preserved that identity, having a centuries-old history, being as rich and diverse as our multilingual language.
Due to some historical circumstances, two costume locales were formed: Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian. Social, festive, gender, and even professional differences were vividly expressed in the Taraz localities. And this is the reason why, when looking at the costume, people would immediately understand what class the wearer belonged to.
Men’s Armenian Taraz
The clothing consisted of two main components: shoulder (shirt, jacket, fur coat) and belt (pants). The collar of the shirt was decorated with embroidered ornaments.
The clothes were mostly made of cotton fabric, and Western Armenians used goat wool. The Circassian (Tcherkez) hat was considered a traditional garment worn over a shirt and jacket. Walking without a Circassian hat in a public place was considered unacceptable, even in hot weather. The most common hats were the ones with various shapes which were usually made of sheepskin.
Women’s Armenian Taraz
Women’s outerwear was quite diverse: dresses (open and close), jackets, and sleeveless clothes. Dresses were sewn from satin, silk, velvet. Women’s clothing was decorated with embroidery, and the upper class adorned their garments with gold and silver threads. Jewelry played an important role in women’s Taraz. Jewelry was carefully preserved and passed down from generation to generation.
Women living in the eastern regions of Armenia wore red long trousers under a long red shirt, the lower parts of which were sewn from more expensive fabrics. The women’s dresses of Western Armenia were almost the same, but they had some differences (the shirt was white, the embroidery was used, an apron was present). Among the ornaments were a necklace and a silver bracelet.
Embroidery, which was specific to a woman’s costume, had a ritual-protective significance. These purls were attributed magical powers and it was believed that those who wore them were protected from evil, harmful influences. The idea was also on the women’s headscarf, the ideology of which was to protect the wearer even from the neckline.
Taraz Localities of Western and Eastern Armenia
The localities of Western and Eastern Armenian national costumes differ in the fact that women’s clothing in Western Armenia was more luxurious, richer in golden and silver embroidery. The other significant difference was that in all western provinces the apron was a mandatory part of a woman’s costume. It was tied around the waist, chest, or shoulder girdle.
The national clothing of Vaspurakan, Bardzr Hayk, and Sasun, in addition to Kilikia’s, and Pokr Hayk’s Armenian-populated regions were included in the Western Armenian region of Taraz. Peculiarities of these places are distinguished by floral-geometric ornaments, which were present in both women’s and men’s clothes. They wore high art jewelry, which completed costumes.
Western and Eastern Armenian costumes were different for men as well. The Caucasian costume was spread in the Eastern provinces, which consisted of underwear, short outerwear, and chukka (wool coat). In winter they wore a wide fur coat without a belt, and a hat made of lamb or sheepskin.
Taraz of the Armenians of Western Armenia was different. They consisted of trousers with embroidered elements, a short, sleeveless dress, a shirt, an outwear. They wore a woolen belt around their backs and white hats with a cone.
Socks and shoes were an essential part of Armenian Taraz which also protected people from cold. Both men and women wore leather-ridged shoes – ”trekh.”
An important component of the costume was the ornament, which expressed the aesthetic preference of the wearer. A special group of jewelry was made up of charms: eye-catching crosses. These were used to cure diseases, accompanied by magic, ritual prayers.
Ornaments In Carpet Weaving
Traditionally, since ancient times carpets were used in Armenia to cover floors, decorate interior walls, sofas, chairs, beds, and tables. Up to present the carpets often serve as entrance veils, decoration for church altars, and vestry. Starting to develop in Armenia as a part of everyday life, carpet weaving was a must in every Armenian family, with the carpet making and rug making being almost women’s occupation.
Armenian carpets are unique “texts” composed of the ornaments where sacred symbols reflect the beliefs and religious notions of the ancient ancestors of the Armenians that reached us from the depth of centuries.
Armenian carpets are famous in the world due to their beauty, unique patterns, and natural colors. There are two types of Armenian rugs: ”gorgs/korks” and carpets which are created with unique traditional technology.
Peculiarities of the Armenian carpet
Armenians have been engaged in carpet weaving since ancient times. The main difference between Armenian carpets and others is that images of animals and people are used as ornaments.
One of the peculiarities of Armenian carpets is the crucifix. The main pattern of this ornament is one or more crosses, which are depicted in the frame or without them. If the crosses are several, they are arranged in rows.
The art of carpet weaving of each nation has its peculiarities. Armenian masters traditionally used double knots, which are still used today. This is a unique and well-known Armenian technology, which allows carpets to have a long “life”.
Leonid Andriasyan, director of the old carpet factory “Megerian Carpet”, said that the Armenian craftsmen made three special carpets. “We have created many carpets that Megeryans will donate to famous people who contributed to the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide and support the Armenian people.
We dedicated the first carpet of this series to chansonnier Charles Aznavour, the second to the actor George Clooney and the third to the Pope.” According to him, one of the advantages of this old factory is that the craftsmen decided to return to the Armenian traditions of carpet weaving, replacing artificial dyes with natural ones, and the Persian knot with an Armenian double knot.
Andriasyan clarified that the colors of the Armenian carpet thread are obtained exclusively from natural materials, from flowers and roots. As a result, an ecologically clean and even healthy carpet is made.
“We get the yellow color from the evergreen flower, red from the roots of Rubia, from the shell of the green walnut we get shades of brown, black is made of the peel of pomegranate, etc. The only thing that does not exist in Armenia is “indigo” stone that is why we bring it from India to get a corresponding shade, “said Leonid.
He added that carpet weaving is an old Armenian art, and not everyone can make a carpet. And if the master does not like his work or comes to work in a bad mood, it is better that he does not approach the workbench.
There is a breath of history under the walls of the factory. Here you can see Armenian and Artsakhian carpets, which have a history of 100-400 years. One of the modern and interesting forms of carpet weaving in Armenia is the creation of 3D carpets. The carpets in the form of khachkars (cross-stones) are especially impressive.
When visiting Armenia don’t forget to visit this factory and admire some masterpieces of Armenian carpet weaving. You can reach this place both with the help of tour companies and yourself as well.