Magic Carpets

Artsakh Carpets


Carpet weaving is a traditional art form popular in all regions of Armenia, but Karabakh carpets have a special place, thanks to its unique features and popularity. Before the spread of synthetic aniline dyes in the 1870's, the rich coloring of the Karabakh carpets was reached only with natural dyes derived from specific plants and minerals of region. Indigo (bluing) was imported from the East, and Vordan - from the Ararat valley. Some of the villages and settlements do not consider synthetic dyes, remaining true to the traditional natural methods.

Director of the Armenian Studies Program of the University of Fresno, California, Tigran Kouyoumdjian argues that many different ancient sources testify to the skill of carpet weaving and the manufacture of other fabrics. Carpet "Gohar", a unique example of ancient Armenian carpeting that Tigran Kouyoumdjian described as "the biggest and softest", was woven in Karabakh and has a signature, which specifies the name of the weaver, "Gohar" and the date 1700. Another well-known carpet, woven in 1731 in Artsakh for Catholicos of Aghvank - Nerses, is stored in the Jerusalem Church of St. James.


In Karabakh, as well as in other regions of Armenia, the carpets were made originally not for sale. They were considered objects of everyday life and of the family, but not traded. Bear rug from home was considered a bad omen. Carpets -Family relics - were important talisman and often symbolized fertility.In the early twentieth century in most cities producing of handmade carpets have been discontinued due to mass killings and deportations, when have been lost or destroyed valuable Armenian carpets. The art of carpet weaving passed from generation to generation, but the destruction and the separation of families have made it almost impossible to continue this tradition.

However, the Karabakh carpet weaving as an art form remained in the Soviet era. In XIX - XX centuries. Shoushi carpets were considered the best in the region and sold in all neighboring cities. In 1907, the year Shoushi carpet factory employs 120 women who produce 600-700 carpets in a year, most of which was exported to Europe. In Soviet times, the factory was moved to Stepanakert. Today, carpets and rugs are produced not only in Shoushi, but in the villages Chartar and Mets Tagher, ethnographic house-museum of Nikol Duman of Tsahkashat village. These rugs are popular now and have a high reputation for excellent quality. For Karabakh carpets are used mainly dark tones of red, blue and brown colors.