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Students and teachers of the Nersessian Orphanage Trade School learn tailoring in 1902.
Photo courtesy of Anahid Yeretzian Adami, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Seamstress Class Graduation, National Aramian Trade School (founded 1903), Sepastia, Ottoman Empire, c. 1908. With the school’s motto “Art is the embodiment of beauty” (translation of the Armenian) on the wall, the varjouhie (teacher), seated center, is ready to present diplomas to her students. Note tools of the dressmaker’s trade: Singer sewing machine, thimble on a finger, and a tape measure draped around each graduate’s neck.
Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Shoemaking trade school, Aintab, Ottoman Empire, c. 1912. Haroutiun Artin Yacoubian is seated confidently at the table on the right, with tools and shoe in hand. Haroutiun survived the genocide, found his way to Paris, and died there in the 1920s.
Photo courtesy of Harold Mgrublian (nephew of subject), Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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A cottage industry of processing native-grown cotton, from boll into thread in the village of Hoghe, Historic Armenia, Ottoman Empire.
Photo courtesy of Vahan and Mary Bogosian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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An Armenian girl in Kharpert, Historic Armenia, Ottoman Empire; handwritten in Armenian on verso: “rug weaver.”
Photo copied by K.S. Melikian, courtesy of Arra Avakian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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With her Brownie box camera, Near East Relief volunteer Ruth Woodis photographed daily living situations in the 1920s. She was in charge of food and clothing for the Armenian Orphans and trained them in the tailor and shoe shops.
Photo by Ruth Woodis, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Selma Minasian Gochigian, surrounded by Armenian Karabakh and Tukoman Boukara rugs and tentbands, demonstrates the art of rug making in 1921, New York City.
Photo by Ray D. Lillibridge, courtesy of Lucille Gochigian Sarkissian (daughter of the subject), Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Varashag Hajinian stands at right in this Philadelphia or New Jersey factory, c. 1922. It is unknown whether he is an owner or worker in this factory.
Photo courtesy of Evelyn Meranshian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Shoe shop proprietor Bedros Arakelian of Kharpert set up shop in Havana during the 1920s while he waited to be admitted into the United States.
Photo courtesy of Bedros Arakelian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Signs on the wall in Armenian and Russian speak of Sarkis Arakelyan’s artadramas (workshop), his traditional artisanal techniques, and the services he provides as master craftsman of folk music instruments, c. 1930s.
Photo by S. Soloviev, courtesy of Jack Torosian, translated by Aram Ohanian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Apprentices craft rings under approving eyes in Haig Jewelry Workshop, Istanbul, Turkey in 1944.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Hevesian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Leather artisan Robert Antranig Mahakian creates suede clothing for the stars, 1964, Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy of Carl Mahakian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Grace Zobian in her traditional costume demonstrates the art of Armenian needlework at the 1974 Philadelphia Folk Fair in Pennsylvania.
Photo by Harry Andonian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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An artisan sculpts a khatchkar (cross-stone) in the village of Sovietakert, Soviet Armenia, c. 1980s.
Photo by Armen Khachatrian, courtesy of Aram Ohanian, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
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Anahid Dakessian Kazazian displays her needlework that is typical to Marash, Cilician Armenia at the 1988 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. As part of Ingenuity and Tradition: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, she represented folk artists of Armenian heritage from Massachusetts.
Photo by Harry Naltchayan of the Washington Post, courtesy of Nairi Havan (daughter of the subject), Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
Click on the photo above to view full slideshow
Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives acts as the steward of Armenian heritage by collecting, documenting, and preserving photographs and the stories they tell. Our work honors Armenian identity and shares that legacy.
This selection of Project SAVE images features Armenian artisans, their education, craft, and artistry. The photos illustrate that formal training was available to Armenian men and women in the Ottoman Empire before 1915 as well as present village life as the collaboration of different generations.
In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, photos of orphanages show children learning carpentry, shoemaking, weaving, and tailoring. These trades created opportunity for a future livelihood for the boys and girls beyond the orphanage.
The selected contemporary photos show Armenian artisans from around the world mastering traditions and keeping the craft vibrant.
Join us at the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, June 27 to July 1 and July 4 to 8, to see Armenian stone carvers, embroiderers, carpet weavers, and more—evidence that these craft traditions are still thriving.
Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives collects, documents, preserves, and presents the photographic record of all Armenians. Project SAVE Archives strives to increase knowledge of Armenian culture and heritage by encouraging the use of its extensive collection of photographs, together with its many other resources to the widest possible audience. It aims to contribute back to the community by supporting and collaborating with other historical, cultural, and educational organizations.