ARMENIAN RUGS & TEXTILES
EXHIBITION OF 22 ANTIQUE ARMENIAN RUGS AND TEXTILES FROM THE ACHDJIAN COLLECTION IN VIENNA
At the occasion of the ICOC and Hali Tour Vienna (Wien)-Budapest 2014 and of the celebration of the anniversary of the independence day of the Armenian Republic, Artur Telfeyan in conjunction with
– The Armenian Ministry of Culture, The Folk Art Museum of Yerevan, Armenian Rug Society (San Francisco), The Austrian Society for Textile Art Research (TKF) organized the exhibition “Armenian Rugs and Textiles”.
The exhibition is the result of a partnership between the:
The Master of the Ceremony of this exhibition was the very efficient and very sympathetic:
Mr. Maxime Lefebvre, ambassador of France, permanent representative of France near OSCE, honoured this event of his venue. Maxime Lefevre gave an interesting attention to the antique Armenian textiles, and I want to thank him again for his positive comments.
I have to say that I appreciated particularly the representatives of Artsakh (Karabagh) Melania Balayan and her husband, Vahram Balayan. Melania Balayan is an historian. She is a doctor of historical sciences, and, she is director of Artsakh State Museum of History and Country Study. She has been the director of the museum since 1997.
There were exhibited:
As far as I am not interested by late 19th century or even early XXth century rugs from The Caucasus which belong to a period of decadence of the art of knotted rugs. These rugs DO NOT WELL REPRESENT the genius of the Armenian atists and craft-smen and crafts-women, I shall not comment these pieces.
From the pieces which do not belong to my collection, the pieces which keep my attention were:
Let’s focus on the twentytwo antique pieces of the “Achdjian collection”
First of all, we need to re-affirm some points: there is no “An” Armenian Rug or “an” Armenian textile, but there are several Armenian RugS and there are several Armenian TextileS.
This is an important statement and sometimes, a point of misunderstanding between some Armenian scholars from today Armenia and some historians and scholars from outside Armenia. (Dickran Kouymjian, Chair of armenology of California, + Lauren Arnold, + Jim Allen, Jim Burns + Murray Eiland, or Berdj Achdjian, ).
Armenians have been spread all over the world and the way they expressed their visual arts have been depending of their location, their period, their religion and others agents of influence (Armenian have not been always Christian). About the Pazyrik, this point is quite important. I shall not treat here this question, but the religion of Armenian around 6th century BC, of course, is not the Christianism, as some Azeris scholars think. As well, ethnically, today Azeri have very few relations with peoples from the East of Caucasus, three millenium ago.
How a rug or textile is Armenian? This question is not a right question and the way it is asked (which is the usual way) is too simple. During ages, the concept of being “Armenian” has evolved. I don’t want to make of this article a study on Armenian textiles and rugs. Still, to give a general introduction to them, I need to precise that by Armenian, I consider works of Art made by the Armenian ethnic group. A Kurdish weaver making a rug on the Armenian homeland or today Armenia, has realized a Kurdish weaving and then after on the Armenian ground. As well, Armenian textiles and rugs should be considered as being designed or woven by Armenians. Their Armenian origin depends of their localization, by the place where the piece has been made, by the religion of the weaver of the artist-designer. For example, Armenian Catholic textiles differ in some aspects than Armenian Apostolic ones, even, if the Catholicism and the Apostolicism, both, are two aspects of Christianity. Armenian who were obliged to convert to Islam as the great architect Sinan and who was Armenian origin, expressed his personality very differently than if he would have kept his religion. As well, the Armenians, in South India in the XVth century, did not expressed themselves in the same way, with the same motifs and same colors, than Armenians in today Armenia at the end of 19th century, or than Armenians in the XIVth century in Western Asia Minor and Byzantium.
When I was 27 years old, I was fortunate to meet Georges DUMEZIL. I went to his home several times and I could ask to him some questions. One day, I ask to him if it was clever for me to go in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaidjan to study symbolism of Caucasian knotted rugs. He answered to me: stay here ! To go to these countries is useless. All these countries have museums, but all the curators are only agents of the KGB. They never studied rugs and textiles in the same way, you did it. Even forget information resulting from them.
In 1980, Ulrich Schurmann and I, we had a meeting and of course, we talk about Paris and its deserted market. He exhibited in the Paris Biennale without selling one rug to a French private customer. We talk about Lyatif Kerimov. I told him what Georges Dumezil told me about Kerimov. Lyatif Kerimov was an agent of the KGB. His classification is the one of a Folk Art Museum curator more agent of KGB than a scientific and knowlegeable Shurmann said to me: don’t repeat it. But more and more, I think, your friend Dumezil is right! Obviously Ulrich Schurmann did not knew who was Dumezil. Dumezil was already an old man, and I was just a young man. But, Ulrich Schurmann did not beleive anymore in his classification.
Therefore, the concepts of the Achdjian Collection, which constitute the Achdjian collection, were not and are not the same than the ones of the Folk Art Museum of Yerevan.
All rugs and weavings belonging to th Folk Art museum of Yerevan are / were from the end of 19th century or early 20th century and from today Armenia. Even, one rug which was reproduced on the front cover of the catalogue has its dated FALSIFIED. Its real date is 1915, and as the 9 has been transformed in an 8, the carpet is presented as 1815. What a joke ! Who can believe in this falsification of date ?
Regarding the selection of pieces from Achdjian Collection, concepts of selection are based on:
EXHIBITED TEXTILES FROM THE ACHDJIAN COLLECTION / PLATES AND TEXTS
The following text is dedicated to Andre Aboolian
01) “UNION OF SUN & MOON” – AN EMBROIDERED LITURGICAL COLLAR
02) “EPITAPH ON A PONTIFICAL VESTMENT” – A FRAGMENT OF AN EMBROIDERED CHASUBLE
03) “THE BAPTISM OF THE CHRIST” – AN EMBROIDERED FIGURATIVE PANEL FOR THE UPPER ALTAR
The “Baptism of the Christ”, an armenian embroidery has been designed by a great anonymous Armenian designer from West of Anatolia. It is a masterpiece. Its realization is just amazing. It is an achievement of the art of embroidery. A masterpiece. For Hali Magazine, it was the piece to illustrate the exhibition. For a better study, please read “Tapis et Textiles Armeniens” by Haroutiuon Kevorkian and Berdj Achdjian. Marseille.(illustrations are the beggining of the chapter).Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it
04) “JONAH AND THE WHALE” – AN EMBROIDERED CALICE COVER
The embroidery “Jonah and the Whale” from the early 17th century and from Nor Julfa (Isfahan) is a major work of art. Taking its inspiration from the bas-relief or sculptures of Aghtamar (Akdamar, now in Turkey) which were inspired by the art of the armenian embroidery, its design figures Jonah and the Whale, a Christian thema. Obviously, this embroidery is Armenian from Persia (Iran) and it is probably the oldest Armenian embroidery of the establishment of Nor Julfa (Djoulfa) during the reign of Shah Abbas. The piece has been exhibited during the “Year of Armenia in France” in the Maison des Arts of Antony. (Mayor of Antony is Patrick Devedjian, former Minister of French Economic Redressement). This piece was choosen by Jozan Magazine to inform its readers about this exhibition.Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it
05) “THE COMMERCIAL EMPIRE OF THE EAST INDIAN COMPANY” – AN EMBROIDERED CHALICE COVER
The embroidered Chalice Cover with the Four Continents and Four galleys; The first one with four galleys (boats) has been realized for either the East Indian Company (An Armenian company which used to be a leading company in 17th and 18th century for the textile commercial exchanges) or an another Company with Christian living in Western Anatolia and having commercial relationship with the four continents. From the first half of the 14th century the Venetian galere da mercato (“merchantman galleys”) were being built in the shipyards of the state-run Arsenal as “a combination of state enterprise and private association, the latter being a kind of consortium of export merchants”, as Fernand Braudel described them. The ships sailed in convoy, defended by archers and slingsmen (ballestieri) aboard, and later carrying cannons. In Genoa, one of the major maritime power of the time, galleys and ships in general were more produced by smaller private venture. In that time. the World has only four continents (Oceania was not yet discovered). Therefore in the four angles (four continents) are representation of them and four boats are displayed on a crossed structure (North South East West). During the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, naval engagement between allied Christian forceshristians and to the Armenians. The four boats with crosses symbolize very probably the net of those navigators’ all over the world. In the very center of this embroidery, eigth motifs of Lamb of God (symboles of the East Indian Company) or a very similar motif, are displayed around a central medallion, a cross in the Armenian manner with four fleurs de Lys which probably symbolize the Kingdom of France. So, the association of motifs showing that: a) the embroiderer was living in Western Asia Minor and very probably in or around the area of Constantinopolis / b) the design is showing relationship between France and Western Asia Minor / c) the design is showing relationship between France + Western Anatolia + India (see the boteh in the outer border) / d) the lamb of God or the Bird or the Paon with a cross, it is difficult to identify the represented animal, in any case , the motif seems to be the symbol, the logo, the motif of a company of an Armenia merchant (or businessman) who used to be in connection with the French East Indian Company. (a Commercial Company of Trade between India, Persia, Ottoman Empire, Italy, Aegean Islands and France). Therefore, this embroidery is Armenian. Armenians were or are Christian. There were / are Armenians in Western Anatolia or in Central Anatolia. The Armenians traders or merchants used to be good sailors and navigators. They are the only one from Western Anatolia to be used to deal with India, as well East Coast or West Coast.(boteh and logo of a company working in Middle East and India). If there were different minotities to deal between India and Venice, Armenians were the only one to deal with Kingdom of France since Cardinal de Richelieu and Colbert during the Reign of Louis XIV. This motif is a symbole of the union of the Armenian traders (merchants) and the French Kingdom of Louis XIV. An another argument is that in the Ernst Publications (Paris, circa 1925) several embroideries of that type are illustrated and defined as: Armenian. Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it
06) “CROSS SHAPED COMPOSITION WITH A CENTRAL MOTIVE” – AN EMBROIDERED CHALICE COVER
This Chalice Cover with four Kuffic seals, a cross-shaped composition and in border a motif with 4 snakes or Dioun around an eigth pointed star, eigth floral main motifs and a central square medallion. The S shape or Dioun or snake must be studied by Armenian scholars. In the 1950′ ies, since my childhood, my father, Albert Achdjian, used to tell me that this motif was a symbol of an Armenian rug or textile. Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it
07) “EIGHT POINTED STAR WITH EAGLES AND FLOWERS” – AN EMBROIDERED COVER FOR AN ALTAR CUSHION
08) “THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS AND OTHERS SCENES OF HIS LIFE” – A CATHOLICOSSAL OR PONTIFICAL MITER AND ITS PARAMENTIC ACCESSORIES
The Apostolic Armenian Catholicossal Miter of Jerusalem. A Tresure of Armenian Art of Embroidery. An historical work of Art. In the Achdjian Collection since 1950’ies. On the miter, the armenian letters for I.N.R.I. (in Armenian) are embroidered with golden threads. For a study of this piece, please report to “Tapis et Textiles Arméniens” by Haroutioun Kevorkian and Berdj Achdjian. Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
09) “THE ASSOMPTION OR HAMPARTSOOM” – AN EMBROIDERED CHALICE COVER
The Hampartsoom or Zareh Achdjian Chalice Cover. This embroidered Chalice Cover has been identified by Zareh Achdjian, several years ago. This embroidery shares several technical and iconographic features with an another Chalice cover of the Achdjian Collection which was not exbibited in Vienna, but which is published in “Tapis et Textiles Arméniens” by Haroutioun Kevorkian and Berdj Achdjian. The embroidery has inscription in Armenian. This embroidery has inscription, too, but they have been removed years ago by one of its owner, probably a Catholic priest for its own use. Still, some traces of these letters can be seen, and without any doubt, some armenian letters can be read. The work is typical of Guessaria or Kayseri (Cesarée) and from the XVIII and XIX th centuries. Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
10) “CROSS + FLOWERS + SAINTS” – AN EMBROIDERED STOLE (ORARION)
11) “GANANTCH-GARMIR / GREEN AND RED” – TWO EMBROIDERED GARMENTS FOR WEDDING
12) “SAFAVID FLOWERS” – A LITURGICAL STOLE (EPITRACHIL OR EPITRACHELION)
13) “FOUR ANIMALS (BIRDS ?) AND THEIR SYMBOLIC MOTIFS” – AN EMBROIDERED ARMENIAN APRON
The Achdjian Armenian Apron from Vaspouragan. One of the rare Armenian aprons which has survived. Most of these known aprons are kept in the Historical Museum of Yerevan. Hali Magazine reported several of them in their issue of 2014 on the Armenian textiles in the Historical Museum of Yerevan. The historical Museum of Yerevan considers Sasoon as its geographic localization. We do beleive that this specific apron is from Lake of Van area, and therefore, we attribute to it the name of the region of “Vaspourakan” (The Land of the Princes or the Land of the Noblemen). Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
14) “THE SYMBOL OF THE EAST INDIAN COMPANY AND TWO FORM OF THE BOTEH ” – A BLOCK PRINTED HAND MADE HANGING IN COTTON
An Armenian block printed altar or frontal altar: this textile is part of a group of several block printed cotton textiles. Dickran Kouymjian is very probably the one who has studied them well. This textile has a companion piece. The companion piece is kept in the Levon Ter Bedrossian Collection. Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
15) – “TULIPS OF MARASH” – AN EMBROIDERED ANTEPENDIUM – FRONTAL ALTAR
The Achdjian frontal lower altar panel or Antependium from Marash is rather similar to an embroidery of the same group and belonging to Prof. Dickran Kouymjian. His piece has more “urban” features. This embroidery seems to be more “villageous”, and it is probably from a village few kilometers outside Marash.
Dickran kouymjian wrote: Marash embroidery is both more colorful and sturdy. The woven Marash stitch is also much more complicated and must be learned from an expert. It includes several types of stitches, which are woven on top of the fabric with only tiny ones going through to the back. The designs are either geometrical or floral, often in an overall pattern. Overlapping stitches are sometimes worked over four times. The design is outlined on a thick cloth of velvet, cotton, satin or wool either by a preliminary stitch or by a drawing with soap or sometimes by wooden block printing. The designs include stylized flowers, tree of life, crosses, birds, and stars.
Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
16) – “A LARGE MEDALLION AND A LATTICE DESIGN” – AN EMBROIDERED BAPTISMAL COVER FROM MARASH
The Achdjian Baptismal cover from Marash This embroidery is colorful and sturdy.
Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
17) “FIVE ROWS OF BOUQUETS, FLOWERS AND CROSSES” – AN EMBROIDERED HANGING FOR A CHURCH
18) “THE ACHDJIAN ANIMAL AND TREE CARPET” – AN HAND KNOTTED CARPET FOR AN ARISTOCRATIC ARMENIAN
The Albert Achdjian Animal and Tree carpet or so called North West Persian carpet and its companion piece the Oakland Carpet. The Albert Achdjian Animal and Tree carpet is quite similar to the Oakland Carpet. The Oakland is on a red ground, The Albert Achdjian’s one is on a dark blue ground. Please, before to go further, see the article by Ian Bennet in Hali Magazine “ANIMAL AND TREE CARPETS, an anamorphous Group”. Hali Magazine issue 73.
These rugs and carpets have been realized by manufacturers, designers, weavers, entrepreneurs who used to work in Tabriz at the Royal Court of the Persian Shah and who were defeated by Ottomans. Then, Armenians were obliged to move up to Nakhitchevan or some others lands, as Artsakh (Karabagh) or to lands which to day are in Georgia or Armenia or Azerbaidjan. Nakhitchevan is the most optional location, but not the scientific location. Most of inhabitants used to be Armenians in Nakhitchevan and therefore, this theory has more chance to be true, but this theory is based only on statistic, and it migth be wrong. Since Communism, and Staline’s politic, Nakhitchevan was given to Azerbaidjanese Gov. and most of Armenian were obliged to escape from Nakhitchevan. In consequence, we prefer to use the term Armenian Animal and Tree carpet than Nakhitchevan or even a more precise term. Already in 1930, as Ian Bennet quoted it, Julius Orendi considered some pieces of this group as Armenian. The Berlin fragmentary carpet fig 2 of Ian Bennet’s article, has been considred by Orendi as Armenian. This armenian origin is attested by the crosses on the top of the head of some ridders, and by many others crosses in the field of the border. It is attested, too, by the fact that face are well designed, even the eyes are designed.
The Achdjian Animal and Tree carpet which is rather similar in design to the Oakland carpet (which is reduced in length) from the Webb Hill collection, has some specific armenian features, as: crosses on the body of some animals, as some motifs which has been described by Ian Bennett as “testicules”, and which are derived from early Safavid silk carpets (circa 1500), and might had have a complete different signification in 1500. The 8 lobbed gul has usually no cross in its field. Here, in the gul motif there are a sub-division which create a very typical Armenian cross. This gul has been erroneously attributed to Talysh ethnic group. In fact, this motif migth be used by Armenians, by Azeris, by many others ethnic group who used to weave rugs. Again, the several mistakes done by Schurmann and Kerimov are still interfering with knowledge or Caucasian rugs. No one curator of the 20th century in Azerbaidjan, in Georgia, and even in Armenia, was a real scientific. The first important quality to possess to be a curator in these 3 former Sovietic Republic, used to be MEMBER OG THE KGB !
Lyatif Kerimov was mostly a member of KGB and not at all a real scientific ! Please, if you want to open a pic, click or double click on it.
Spongobongo is one of the largest databases, if not the largest database on the net on antique and semi-antic Oriental rugs and carpets.
Barry O’Connell is a passionate person who still is working hard to developp the information about them.
About the ethnic origin of caucasian rugs or carpet, I copy an article from Spongobongo on a study on four subject which interfere directly on the number of carpets or rugs which migth be made per year. At the end, the number of Armenian persons who are involved in the carpet making is over TEN TIMES more important than the number of muslims, and by muslims, it should be understood Azeri:
Kameral’noe Opisanie was a survey ordered by the Russian Czar and was conducted in the years from 1829- 1832 AD. More then just a census this gives us an idea of who the people were and how they lived. There are a few crucial clues that help in Rug studies.
|Erevan 1829- 1832||The Mahals 1829- 1832|
|Muslims||Native Armenians||Immigrant Armenians||Muslims||Native Armenians||Immigrant Armenians|
Due to the fighting between Russia and the Ottomen Empire by 1830 thousands of the Muslims had recently moved out of the Province of Erevan. The Kameral’noe Opisanie notes more than 1/3 of all of the villages were abandoned. A large portion of Armenian imagration into Erevan was in the Gokcha Mahal the area north and northwest of Lake Van ( the large lake bottom center in the map below). Please note that major weaving areas such as Pambak and the Idjevan area were in the hands of the Russians prior to 1829.
Note the figures above, immigrant Armenians dominate both red and blue dyeing and spinning. Looms last a long time but two Immigrant Armenians were loom makers. The Russians did not record home industrty such as rug weaving but I am convinced that a huge numer of rugs were woven by Armenians from 1829 onwards. Now look again at thje maps. The area of major Armenian population growth was in an area that geography guided trade. If you were taking goods to market obviously you would not haul them at great risk to life and limb over snow covered peaks. The trade path funneled trade goods to Kazak and Gendge. So what do we call the Armenian rugs? Kazak and Gendge.
So while not all Kazak (and Gendge) rugs are Armenian I believe most of what we know as Kazak is Armenian at the time of the Kameral’noe Opisanie. Murray Eiland Jr.
19) “ROWS OF ANIMALS AND CROSSES IN BORDER” – A WOVEN HORSE SADDLE COVER
Please, note the similar features, between: the spots of the horse on this late 19th century Artsakh (Karabagh) rug from the Garbis Baghdassarian collection and obviously from an Armenian origin, (there is a long text in Armenian on it) and the spots on the bodies of the animals on the Achdjian Armenian Animal and Tree carpet carpet from the Caucasus. Please, note too, the fact that fringes are clearly represented on the Garbis Baghdassarian Artsakh rug. Please, note, the two round motifs on the field of the saddle that are quite similar to the motifs which are represented at the roots of the trees on the Achdjian Collection Armenian Animal and Tree carpet. These rounds motifs have been described as testiculars by Ian Bennet.
20) “GEOMETRIC MEDALLIONS AND REPRESENTATION OF TWO WHITE CROSSES AND TWO RED HUMAN BEINGS” – AN HAND KNOTTED CARPET FOR A WEALTHY ARMENIAN
21) “THE DOUBLE-HEADED EAGLE MOTIF IN A LATTICE DESIGN” – A FRAGMENT OF AN HAND KNOTTED RUG
22) “ROWS OF ARCHAIC MOTIFS WITH ROWS OF CROSSES” – AN HAND WOVEN KILIM
THE CONFERENCE / THREE LECTURES: Lauren Arnold, Artur Telfeyan, Berdj Achdjian. To accompany the exhibition: “Armenian Rugs and Textiles”, 3 lectures took place at Palais Sans Souci and started on Monday 15th September at 10.00. The same lectures repeated at 13.00 the same day and included. Due to Jozan Magazine and the action of Armenian Rug Society + Artur Telfeyan + ICOC, attracting collectors from across the world, the small hall of conference was full.
Lauren Arnold is a lecturer in art history at the University of San Francisco. She has been affiliated with the Ricci Institute as a Research Fellow since 1997. She shown several images of Early Italian Paintings on which some rugs has been representated. Her database is quite impressive and her work is a real work. She is someone who develop a real thinking. Since decades, some scholars to be nice with Islamic Museums or Turkish Institutions, considered that the rugs which have been figurated on these Early Italian Paintings are items of the Islamic luxury.
Most of Armenian dealers of carpets as my father, Albert Achdjian used to say that this is impossible, and these rugs are Oriental Christian origin, or from some none-muslim minorities, as some Christianized Syrian or some Christianized Kurds. Since decades, some scholars as James Burns, tried to developp the knowledge that these rugs have been realized by Christians, without being heard.
About the fact that rugs and textiles which are figurated on Early Renaissance paintings are Christian and not muslim, the most important arguments are from my point of view:
– Muslims from Turkey (Saldjukids, Seljukides) took Jerusalem from the hands of the Arabs (Fatimids) in 1078. Arabs (Fatimids) used to accept that Christian Pilgrims and civilians went into the city. With the Turks, Turks killed or tried to kill all Christians who wanted to visit Jerusalem. Muslims from Asia Minor or Turks, did not (never) accept that a Christian or a none muslim, (jew, assyrian, etc.) walk on a muslim turkish rug or carpet. This fact is reported and attested in several books and documents. For a striking example, please, read the book by Maurice Herbette, « Une Ambassade Persane (Azerie) sous Louis XIV ». Paris, Librairie Académique Perrin et O., Libraires-Editeurs, 35, quai des Grands-Augustins, daté 1907. A muslim ambassador from the Ottoman Empire used to consider “impure”, or “dirty” all Christian,s even Virgin Marie or Marie, and it would have been a real problem if a Christian would have walk on an Islamic rug. To have an idea of the way that muslim Turks and Azeris have perceive minorities and Christian minorities the best is to listen the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq ( دولة العراق الإسلامية Dawlat al-ʿIrāq al-ʾIslāmiyyah). Do not forget that during these centuries, it was a very similar situation that it is today with a Sunni jihadist group that aimed to establish an Islamic state in Sunni Arab-majority areas of Iraq. (Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and his cabinet of ten ministers). So, these Turks of 13th and 14th and even 15th centuries would never accept that a Christian walk on an Islamic rug. The rug is the limit contact area between the World of God (Heavven, the Sky, the World of the Space) and the World of the Earth, the Ground, the Life, the today life, and the human condition. If the rug would have been an Islamic limit, how this limit could have been “invaded” and made dirty by the feet of Christians or Jews or Yezidis. But today, the German or American and English scholars who were in favour of the pro Turkish thesis for some commercial relation between USA and Europe’ finances have more and more difficulties to lie and to fool the amators of rugs and textiles. Armenian dealers as my father and I, we do know how most of these pro Turks scholars are just either without a real knowledge or just they are under the rules of their Governement and are more agents of an economic power than real and independant historians.
– As well, the European Christians from France, Italy, England, with his leader Godeffroy de Bouillon and his brother Beaudoin, were quite obsessed by the save of their soul, and to kill a muslim was considered by Pope Urbain II as a positive action for a Chrsitian. To kill someone was a mortal sin, except if this murder was to delivered Jerusalem. With such a mentality, how it would be possible that a painting which had been realized for an obsessed of Christianity aristocrat could have accept an Islamic rug under the feet of the Virgin Mary ?
– Italian Early Renaissance (in French Pré-Renaissance or Duecento and Trecento) painting is derived from Greek or Oriental Christian (Byzantine) painting and miniature. As Lauren Arnold and I, we quoted, 1204 is a huge event in the history of Constantinople and the history of Christianity of Orient. Many minorities, as Greeks, Armenians, Yezidis (their importance is much more considerable than what scholars have written) Jews, Assyro-Chaldeans, Georgians, some Christianized Syrian (Syriques), Kurds, etc. they, moved from Middle East to Italy.This happened slowly and slowly, but in 1204, it accelerated, and thousands and thousands of these populations established in Italy and as well in Venice, Firenze, Genoa, or Sicily. The Early Renaissance painting is the following of this “Byzantine” painting. So, the rugs and textiles represented on Byzantine paintings are obviously Byzantine Christian origin.
– The represented rugs on Early Pre-Renaissance paintings are symbols of the Holy Land and Holy must be understood as Christian, as the place where Jesus-Christ born. The Holy land is the place from where the Virgin Mary or others Saints and persons were originated. The rug is the reflect of the Virgin Mary and how the reflect of the Virgin can be Islamic ? The rugs have a symbolic meaning. They are a symbol of a geographic localization: Jerusalem and the Birth place of Jesus.
– The Pazyrik carpet has been woven in the 6th century before J-C. In this time, Islam did not existed. This carpet was not the first one. From 6th century Before J-C, up to the “avénement of Mahomet” the birth of Islam religion, thousands of rugs and carpets have been woven. The Islamic rugs could not have existed before the birth of Mahomed. So, the first representations of rug which pre-date the birth of Mahomet. They do not represnt islamic rugs. These textiles and rugs are fully in the paternity or maternity of the future lineage of the 13 and 14th century rugs which are represented on these Italian paintings. How some scholars can occult 3.000 years of history of rugs. In 1099, Jerusalem has been re-conquired by the Crusaders. For that, over 30.000 Turks and Muslims have been massacred. Of course, this was a problem for an establishment of peace between these two religious communities.
This does not demonstrate that there are no others Islamic rugs ! Of course, there were others rugs which were made by muslim Turks. Some rugs have been knotted by Turks and Azeris converted to Islam. But, the rugs which have Cbeen represented of the Italian paintings of Duecento and Trecento are not muslim. They might have been woven or designed or conceived by Greeks, Armenians, Yezidis, Jews, Assyro-Chaldeans, Nestorians, and even Zoroastrians or Italians or Europeans who lived in Asia Minor and Middle East.
– In 1877, Julius Lessing, director of the Deutsche Gewerbe-Museum in Berlin, published the first book on Oriental carpets. (Altoorientalische Teppichmuster nach Bildern und Originalen des XV – XVI Jahrunderts. The attribution to Turkey has been a mistake which has been repeated through decades. The difference between Turkey, Ottoman Empire, Occupied land by Turks, Byzantium Empire, was not familiar to Julius Lessing. So, Lessing took the term “Turkey” without making any difference between Christians from Anatolia or Asia Minor and Muslims from the same places. In a way, Lessing did not write that the rugs are not Christian or Greek or Armenian. Julius Lessing used a generic term without arguying about any Islamic origin. Those, who based their argumentation to proove that the rugs representated on Early Renaissance paintings as Islamic and Turk, did not or do not understand that Turkey has not the same meaning in 1877 andkin 1920. Turkey migth not means turk or turks ! it depends when it has been written or said.
B) – New Classification on West-Caucasian Rugs” by Artur Telfeyan. As I criticized the Lyativ Kerimov and Ulrich Schurmann classification, and as I do not beleive in classification of Early Caucasian rugs of XVI, XVII XVIII and first part of XIX th century, on the basis of the production of the late XIXth century or early XXth century production, and as I am not interested in the late productions, I am not interested by this classifications based only on design and I would not comment this lecture.
C) – “Introduction to study of Armenian rugs and textiles, including, embroideries” by Berdj Achdjian. I have to say that I was not happy with conditions in which I gave my lecture. No limit of time was given to me before and when I was g gmiving my lecture I was ask to make it shorter. My lecture’s purpose was to give a general approach. So why to give twice a lecture when even once is not enough ? Whatever, next time, I shall ask for my conditions before to accept to give a lecture in the so difficult conditions.
The worst I did not like at all was the way to react of some Armenians from Armenia in regards of a provocation of an Azerie young girl.A t the end of Berdj Achdjian’s lecture, Artur Telfeyan ask if there were questions. A young lady who obviously knows very few about history and authentification of Armenian rugs and textiles and who knowns very few about early Caucasian rugs and textiles, made a speach, an anti-Armenian propaganda . I let her to talk for around 10 minutes. Finally after her propaganda, I ask to her to ask a question. I told her to notice a huge “difference” between Azeri and Armenians. This difference is that, Armenians let Azeris to talk. On the opposite, Azeris do not let Armenians to talk. As an Armenian, it has been always impossible for me to give a lecture in any Azeri conference. My options are either to not be allowed to talk or to talk but without any security against a potential Azeri attack.
When an Azerbaidjanese President prefers to protect the killer of an Armenian in Hungary than to congratulate the Armenian World Champion of Chess team, 2013, what do you wait for from him, and his ministers as the Minister of Culture, except violences ?
Dickran Kouymjian was unfortunately absent of this conference. Let’s quote him. He wrote about “Needlework: Embroidery and Lace”
Richly embroidered Armenian textiles have survived in much greater number than plain or printed fabrics. These embroideries are mostly church related: clerical robes and accessories, altar curtains, chalice covers, and miscellany. Among the vestments are miters, crowns, copes, stoles, collars, belts, sleeve bands, chasubles, and slippers. Major collections with pieces dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries are kept in the monasteries of Etchmiadzin, Jerusalem, the Mekhitarists in Venice and Vienna, Bzoummar in Lebanon and other lesser centers. Rich figural designs on silk, velvet, satins and more modest materials are sewn in vivid colors, the most lavish employ gold and silver thread, pearls and other precious and semi-precious stones. The variety of designs and styles are as astounding as they are beautiful. The perfection of execution, the rendering of figures, garments and faces is as magnificent as the best embroidery work of any period and any nation. Dickran Kouymjian
the video about Armenian embroideries
ZAREH ACHDJIAN writes
Studies of Armenian rugs and carpets received a negative evolution with Viken Sassouni in 1978. Sassooni was a charming person. Unfortunately he was not really knowledgeable with antique rugs and antique Armenian rugs and textiles. So, to protect himself to do mistakes, he limited his study to rugs and carpets with Armenian Inscription. Thinking to do well, I told him, he was wrong. Still, he beleived he was doing rigth. In fact, to day with years, it was the opposite which he made. The Turkish and pro-turkish scholars reject most of rugs from Ottoman Empire and from the Caucasus, as Armenian, if there is not an inscription.
As a former guest-member of Armenian Rug Society, my father, Berdj Achdjian, told me that he told Viken Sassouni several times that it was not the right way to approach the question of Armenian rugs. Inscriptions were only a part of the general scientific approach. Pollen studies, technical analysis, scientific comparaison of motifs, etc … were more important than only inscriptions and which are somtimes faked. Still Viken Sassouni kept on going his position. So today, rugs and carpets are fully considered Armenian only if they have an inscription with Armenian letters.
Why does this criteria apply only for Armenian rugs and carpets ? Why ?
Why a rug without any inscription might be Balouchi, Tekke, Yomud, and why not a rug without inscription might not be fully Armenian?
Considering that in any auction catalog or book on rugs, inscribed rugs or carpets are a minority, less than 2 %, it is sure that Armenian rugs with inscription are minority in a minority.
Even, if we consider only inscribed Armenian rugs and carpets, is the fact that there is an inscription a guarantee of its Armenian origin?
Most of rugs and carpets which have been exhibited in the last San Francisco Tribal and Textile Fair, had a fake armenian inscription and if they were rejected by the vetting commitee, they reappeared on the booth of their owner. Some clever Turkish or Syrian repairmen used and still use to add an inscription to sale these rugs to Armenian buyers who are most of times not really well informed about technique. Who is able to see and understand it ? Only very few specialists !
What about early carpets ?
Except the Kohar ou Gohar carpet which has an inscription in Armenian, very few others carpets or rugs have an Armenian inscription.
We can add, and in any others languages as Persian or Turk … So what are we supposed to do ? Eliminate Armenian origin thesis ? This mistake made Turkish historians the winners due to Viken Sasooni’s wrong position of approaching the question.
More, as most of pieces with Armenian inscription are late (second half of 19th century or early 20th century, no none should be astonished that these rugs and carpets do not interest the “great collectors”. Never great collectors as Marino Dall Oglio, or others of this level have bougth piece of this low level. Without aesthetical or ethnographical interest, these rugs are
This way to think must stop ! Armenian rugs did not started to exist with the first Armenian rug with inscription.
Armenian rugs or carpets and textiles did not started to exist with the Gohar carpet. This is a real mistake of knowledge.
The most dangerous persons for antique Armenian rugs and textiles are not turks or azeris who are NOT talking about Armenian rugs and textiles, and keep them unknown but the Armenians who do not know about antique textiles and rugs and who pretend to be knowledgeable.
Usage partiel à des fins pédagogiques autorisé à condition de citer le nom de l’auteur et la source. Zareh Achdjian +33 6 66 66 14 88
PARTY-SHOTS (THIS ARTICLE IS IN PROCESS OF STILL BEING WRITTEN, SO PLEASE FORGIVE US OF MANY MISTAKES)