Looming Large

You’ll see it as soon as you walk down the stairs in Yerevan’s Silk Road Hotel. I fell for it straight away, for this antique carpet features the blue and rust colors I love to see together.

The carpet is only one of a collection displayed at the hotel. Tatev gave me a tour and explained the history of some of the designs and symbols. Tatev loves textiles and is a very knowledgeable guide. Pride in Armenian wool and silk craft shines from her.

The hotel is home to the Folk Arts Hub Foundation. This Foundation invites members of the diaspora to “Adopt A Loom” — paying for the apparatus and supplies that can be used to teach today’s Armenians the skills of their ancestors. Adopting a loom costs just $500 and includes a fee for a teacher to instruct would-be weavers. The Foundation now has women weaving in 17 villages all over Armenia. Soon someone somewhere will be working on a carpet for me.

Tatev’s team draw patterns based on the antique carpets in their collection. They arrange for wool from Armenian sheep to be dyed to the old color specifications. This makes it possible for someone like me to have an exact copy of a favorite carpet, and customize it to include a name, date, icon or something important to the buyer.

I will know who made my carpet and where. Once the order is underway I can go to watch it being made.

Is it expensive? Well I have paid at least as much to Macy’s for a mass-produced carpet the same size but provenance unknown.

The weavers also produce their own contemporary designs. Some were on sale at the hotel. I fell in love with a modern hall runner and bought it on the spot. Tatev is keeping it for me until I know where I want both carpets shipped. The carpets are magical but they don’t appear to fly.

Buying these souvenirs of my two years in Armenia feels good. The weavers earn money for their work. I will know the long and short term history of my design and carpet, and I will have no anxiety about its age or authenticity.

More in this thread (ha) as the rug begins to take shape.

Tatev treated me to compote, tea and the hotel’s take on baklava as we talked about textiles. The baklava involved dates and walnuts wrapped in crisped lavash and shaken with powdered sugar. I began to wish I could stay for dinner, or book in for the night.

I asked to have the letters NPRC in Armenian stitched into my carpet, and the years 2017-2019. Tatev asked me why. When I explained about the National Poetry Recitation Contest she immediately offered me some small coasters and mats as prizes. There is no letter C in Armenian so I have to decide if this should be a K or an S before my loomswoman gets that far. I have a couple of months yet…

About Liz Barron

Returned US Peace Corps Volunteer (Armenia 17-19). Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger, cook, painter, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveller.
This entry was posted in Armenia, Armenian art, armenian carpet, art, artsakh carpet, buting handmade carpets, craft activities, Cross-cultural understanding, shopping, textiles, Things that gladden the heart, Things that make a difference, travel, Village life, Women, work. Bookmark the permalink.

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