MY HANDMADE ARMENIA FESTIVAL

ABOUT

Join us for the fourth annual My Handmade Armenia, the country's biggest crafts festival, at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts in Yerevan. My Handmade Armenia presents a wide range of handmade goods crafted by artisans from across Armenia's regions. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy artisan demonstrations, participate in interactive craft workshops, and - of course - shop the wide range of beautiful artisan-made items. 

 My Handmade Armenia is one of the major initiatives of the My Armenia program, supporting the growth, and, in some cases, revitalization of craft traditions in Armenia’s regional communities including wood and stone carving, textile art, embroidery, carpet weaving, pottery, and blacksmithing. 

 My Handmade Armenia Crafts Festival is by the My Armenia Program, which is funded by USAID and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution. The festival and program are supported by our partner Teryan Cultural Center NGO. 

PARTICIPANTS

 

WORKSHOP AGENDA

Day 1. September 11  

 

 

11:00 –12:00  Ceramic Jewelry Making  

12:30 –13:30  Tuff stone puzzle making  

14:00 –15:00  Felting  

15:30 –16:30  Carpet Weaving  

17:00 –18:00  Ceramic Painting  

18:30 –19:30  Basket Weaving  

Day 2. September 12

 

10:30 – 11:30  Angel Doll Making  

12:00 – 13:00  Stone Carving  

13:30 – 14:30  1001 shades  

15:00 – 16:00  Trees that tell stories  

16:30 – 17:30  Carpet Weaving  

 
 

CRAFTS

Armenian Carpet Icon

Carpet making was one of the ancestral occupations among women in Armenia who passed their skills to young girls. Carpet making was exclusively women’s craft. In the nineteenth century, Armenian women commonly practiced rug weaving—seen as pious work—especially in the villages, where every home contained a weaving loom. Rugs and carpets involve different weaving techniques, but could be woven on the same loom. Handmade carpets and rugs were an important element in the interior design of traditional houses which were used to decorate floors, walls and to separate rooms.

The nineteenth-century Armenian home featured an abundance of laces and embroidered textiles, especially during weddings and feasts, when families displayed their finest. Needlework was one of few forms of expression open to women in a society where they were largely without rights or prestige. It provided a “voice”: stitches, instead of words, became a language. It also provided subsistence in hard times; women could sell their needlework for income, calling it “bread of the black days.”

Khachkars are unique to Armenia, where they are now a national symbol. Khachkars are often used to commemorate an important event, mark a significant spot, or serve as a memorial gravestone. Sprouting and blooming motifs—which make the khachkar a version of the Tree of Life—are prominent features. Medieval khachkar carvers typically followed the style of a local school; modern carvers compile their cross-stones from different schools and styles. Today stone carvers often use the language of khachkars to express artistic and philosophic ideas rather than the traditional cross-stone.

Wood icon

The art of woodcarvers greatly enlivened traditional homes in Armenia, which contained many wooden components, from cupola-shaped ceilings and pillars to functional furniture, bins, chests, cradles, ladles and spoons. Woodcarvers also decorated utensils, especially those responsible for sustaining life, such as grain bins or cradles. The purposes of the decorations were not only aesthetic, but also to protect their contents from the evil eye. Woodcarvers created special amulets, known as Daghdghan, for this purpose.

Pottery is one of the oldest Armenian traditions, dating back to the third millennia BCE. Large vessels to carry water, preserve foods and store wine were found in the ruins of ancient dwellings, often with etchings of deer, fish, trees, the sun, and mythological creatures like dragons and serpents.

 

Both women and men were engaged in ceramic work - women making mainly household items, and men practicing pottery on weel. This is another tradition passed through generations in Armenian families.

Jewelry icon

The roots of the Armenian tradition of jewelry-making and decoration go back to the ancient times. Armenian women have always liked to wear a lot of jewelry - necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets mostly made of silver and gold. Silver belt was an inseparable part of the look of married women as a sign of perfection. The belts were decorated with pearls and other precious or semi-precious stones. The main motives in the Armenian jewelry-making are geometrical, animal and nature-inspired. For example, the most central and recognizable symbol in Armenian jewelry-making is the pomegranate, which symbolizes fertility and abundance in the Armenian mythology.

Blacksmith icon

Blacksmithing in Armenia is considered "mother craft", as blacksmiths made essential household items and the tools for all other crafts. In all the regions of Armenia it is usually passed down through generations and is exclusively men’s occupation. The tradition of passing the craft from generation to generation remains to this day. Since ancient times blacksmithing was an important part in rites and traditions of Armenian people. According to legend, when the chains of the dragonish prince Artavazd, who was imprisoned in a cave on the peak of the Masis (Ararat) Mountain, were getting dangerously thin, the blacksmith delivered several heavy blows on the anvil to strengthen the chains. This and other magical actions related to his craft positioned him close to the mythological thunder god and inspired the expression: “The blacksmith is the only man whom the devil is afraid of.”

The textile sector is an old branch of the Armenian economy with a history rich in traditions. As early as in old ages Armenia was famous for its production of naturally dyed yarns and delicate fabrics. The fabric was woven at homes. One of the significant expressions of the use of these fabrics and yarns was Armenian Taraz (traditional dress). By tradition the patternmakers of tarazes were men. Depending on geographical area and economic situaion of the region, tarazes were sewn with different fabric, colors, designs and embelishment. Tarazes were also categorized by the status of those who wore it - royal, urban, peasant and religious dressings.

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PRACTICAL TIPS

KIDS
All workshops at the festival are kid-friendly. Kids can also enjoy artisan demonstration, especially at particular tents.
LOCATION
CASH
Make sure to bring enough cash as many artisans can only accept cash at the festival.
 

This website is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Smithsonian Institution. The contents are the sole responsibility of the My Armenia Program and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the Smithsonian Institution, or the United States Government.

USAID Smithsonian Institution My Armenia Program