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Photo Album: Armenia, September 2015

HALI editorial staff Ben Evans and Rachel Meek joined thirteen participants as Vladimir Grigoryan and Tatev Muradyan guided the group to rugs, textiles and historical sites in Armenia for 7 days (with 24 hours in Georgia). Another HALI Tour to Armenia and Georgia is planned for May 2016. To register your interest or join the HALI Tours mailing list contact rachel.meek@hali.com

Beginning in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, the tour took in the rich history the many civilisations to have inhabited the region with a tour of archeological finds, carpets and the wide ranging folk costumes and embroideries at the National History Museum of Armenia. Ancient manuscripts at the Matenadaran Museum demonstrated the complex decorative language of Armenia: the world’s first country to adopt Christianity as the official religion. Professor Levon Chugazyan granted the group special access to the stores to view a selection of medieval books with precious scraps of Sassanian and Indian fabric used in the bindings.

Mount Ararat from Sardarapat, Armenia

Mount Ararat from Sardarapat, Armenia

A short drive out of the city brought us to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin with an impressive collection of 18th century cotton alter cloths made in India for the Armenian Church (article to follow in HALI 186), embroideries and Caucasian rugs. The museum on the site of the Sardarapat Memorial complex provided the opportunity to get a close up look at a 17th century Dragon carpet and more little known folk costumes.

The HALI Tour get a close look at a 17th century Dragon rug, Museum of Sardarapat, Armenia

The HALI Tour get a close look at a 17th century Dragon rug, Museum of Sardarapat, Armenia

Travelling out of the city offered fresh mountain air, local honey, entry into the Areni-1 cave which contains huge ceramic vats in the process of excavation – these provide evidence of the world’s earliest known winery. Exquisite stone carving akin to the designs seen in Matenadaran manuscripts were seen at multiple locations – in early Christian places of worship at Khor Virap, Noravank and Haghpat Monasteries; on khachar stones at Noradouz cemetary; at a Jewish cemetery at the head of Yegheghis Gorge; and within the Orbelian Caravanserai at the top of a mountain pass – the building would have offered shelter to travellers and merchants of multiple faiths along the trade route.

Carving by the 13th century architect, sculptor and illustrator Momik, St. Karapet church, Noravank Monastery, Armenia.

Carving by the 13th century architect, sculptor and illustrator Momik, St. Karapet church, Noravank Monastery, Armenia.

Medieval Jewish tombstone with the Armenian eternity symbol ans inscriptions in Aramaic and Hebrew, Yegheghis Gorge, Armenia

Medieval Jewish tombstone with the Armenian eternity symbol ans inscriptions in Aramaic and Hebrew, Yegheghis Gorge, Armenia

Karen Balayan, Captain of CILICIA sailing introduced the group to his thirty year labour of love. Currently in the dry dock for repairs on the shores of Lake Sevan, only 13th century methods and materials have been employed to build a replica of an Armenian merchant ship of the period and to sail it across Europe. Chef Yura Sargsyan provided a cookery demonstration using local fish before lunch at his guesthouse and an encounter with women selling knitted handicrafts at Noradouz Cemetery offered a special chance to chat about the history of weaving in Armenia with the visual aid of carpet literature from the HALI bus library. 19th century photographs and room sets provided a rare contextual reference of carpet use in Armenia at the Museum of Ethnography & Carpets in Gavar.

Ben Evans asks a lady selling handicrafts if any of the rugs shown in Oriental Rugs Vol 1 by Ian Bennett are familiar designs, Noradouz, Armenia

Ben Evans asks a lady selling handicrafts if any of the rugs shown in Oriental Rugs Vol 1 by Ian Bennett are familiar designs, Noradouz, Armenia

With just 24 hours in Georgia, a taste of Tbilisi brought an evening walking tour with interludes to rummage through the back room contents of carpet shops. Dr Irena Koshoridze, Caucasian kelim expert and Curator of the State Museum of Folk and Applied Arts, provided a personal tour of the imaginative exhibitions in the brand new museum before taking the group to see Qajar paintings and ancient goldwork in the treasury at the Georgian National Museum.

Further shopping opportunities were found at the Dry Bridge Antiques Market in Tbilisi and the Vernissage Market (conveniently placed right outside the hotel) in Yerevan. Additional luggage purchases were required.

Ben Evans and Paul Ramsey look at rugs and fragments on offer in the Vernissage Market, Yerevan, Armenia

Ben Evans and Paul Ramsey look at rugs and fragments on offer in the Vernissage Market, Yerevan, Armenia

A farewell reception at the Folk Art Museum in Yerevan brought together all of the Armenian curators who had welcomed the HALI Tour group, and incorporated a special exhibition of textiles and a performance of medieval Armenian music. Levon der Bedrossian of the Armenian Rugs Society hosted a generous traditional lunch in the garden of his Silk Road Hotel which also houses the Folk Art Hub Foundation which aims to educate and promote Armenian textile and weaving heritage. Embroidery demonstrations and a tour of the carpet repair facilities with views across to Mount Ararat brought the HALI Tour Armenia to a close.

Caucasian embroidery (detail), 18th century. Silk embroidered in cross stitch. Collection of the Carpet Museum, Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh, seen at the Folk Art Museum, Yerevan, Armenia (see p. 97, HALI 179)

Folk Art Museum, Yerevan, Armenia

Folk Art Museum, Yerevan, Armenia

 

 

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