Folklore: Patterns, Tapestries, Clothing
TARAZ - NATIONAL CLOTHING
Armenian national clothing, known as Taraz has had an aesthetic value since ancient times. Patterns, intricacy, colour have all played a part within Armenian culture to express classification of: class, region, gender. Armenian philosopher Grigor Tatevatsi expressed that the colours used on a Taraz unveil different meanings. '”The black of the earth, the white of water, the red of the air and the yellow of the flame” . The purple is the symbol of wisdom, the red – of bravery,
the blue – of heavenly justice and the white is the symbol of prudence' (https://barevarmenia.com/travelblog/taraz-armenian-national-dress/).
Aprons made by silk notable by their usual colour of yellow and red ornaments imprinted on the garment was essential for Armenians as the adornment was seen as key and essential for the protection of a woman from evil as well as express her modesty and gentleness.
Predominant colours used within clothing as well as landscape paintings by notable Armenian artists: Martiros Sarian, Minas Avetisian:
Armenian Landscapes; Minas Avetisian + Martiros Sarian
Avetisian was a highly important artist that was inspired by Martiros Sarian, one of the greatest Armenian painters. They both depict a brightness and dramatic passion of warm rich toned colours dictating the rough and brutal and powerful nature of Armenia. Rays of sun, warm maroon toned shadows and endless cliffs represent the endurance Armenia as a country survived - though genocide and sufferance, both artists transmit their passion for their land within vibrant paintings of landscapes mimicking traditional colour pallets expressing metaphorically how Armenia as a country will be eternal.
Armenian tiles, prints and plates
Armenian tiles and plates known as; Kütahya ceramics are widely misunderstood to be turkish. However the early records state the existence of an Armenian community in Kütahya in the 14th century when the Cilician kingdom of Lesser Armenia collapsed. Many Armenians therefore scattered through what would become Ottoman territories. Adaptation of this Armenian craft has been used by Turks however based on the Armenian patterns and prints that similarly are represented on Armenian folklore clothing and tapestries. Now mainly found in regions that Turkey lies in, these patterns and plates are associated to Turkey, however when dated back retrieved information showing that the artefacts date back before any Ottoman presence within Anatolia, thus being created by Armenians
Armenian architecture has mostly been focused on churches. As the first country to accept Christianity as their religion in 301 A.C., churches have been the emphasis on Armenian architecture.
Mostly built with stone, due to the abundance of the natural resource, the buildings built usually blend seamlessly with their natural surroundings due to using the same rock as the one that the structure lies on. Main features are present within Armenian churches; pointed domes reminiscent of the highly important Mount Ararat mountain that represents Armenians, stone vaulted ceilings as well as frescoes and carvings usually ornate the church with swirling intertwining grapevines and foliage.
Whilst in the Communist rule, Armenia little to no decision in the way in which their country was going to change, though governmental changes to architectural ones too. Armenia's devotion to Christianity was made little to none due to communist ideologies not believing in religious studies.
As the cities started to expand - mostly Yerevan (the capital) - brutalist cold concrete buildings started to engulf the skyline and quickly enough many buildings expressed the sadness and restraint that the people endured in the past. to recent day Armenia is scattered with these brutal buildings, commenting on a century that Armenians had little to no freedom.
Chris Herwig - Communist bus stops
Chris Herwig is a photographer that captures the decadence of the Communist rule within the 'Eastern block' by capturing sinister shots of empty run down bus stops within ex-soviet countries such as: Estonia, Ukraine, Armenia, Lithuania and more. I was initially not familiar with his work and photographs, however after looking at the photographs captured in Armenia, I was able to recognise one specific bus stop he photographed - one situated in Saratak's main highway. This connection I had to his work was something I wanted to capture within my research and work as I feel as if I'm part of the work to a certain extent as I have seen the bus stop he has photographed.
Looking at the bus stops, there is one specific common thread that runs through all the photographs. All the bus stops look desolate and empty. In addition their 'over the top nature' and sometimes 'tasteless' colour use and bizarre shapes are emblematic of communist buildings, all presenting a sombre aesthetic that almost has a futuristic look to them.
I started looking at the shapes within the structures, immediately I could tell all the bus stops were very geometric with jarring shapes, this will be interesting to express in silhouettes on the body to move away from the body by concealing the visibility of the human form.
Armenia, Chris Herwig
Estonia, Chris Herwig
Moldova, Chris Herwig
Abkhazia, Chris Herwig
Armenia, Chris Herwig
Within this project, my aim is to express my two distinctive roots - Armenian and Swedish - through a final garment to visually represent the juxtaposition of cultures but also the way in which they join together to make me as a person and my identity.
Contrasts between Sweden and Armenia
Going to both countries regularly, it is easy to distinguish the harsh contrast between Sweden and Armenia. Two uncorrelated countries that have never had any shared history, the way in which they have grown is immensely different.
Armenia and Communist Rule; Armenia's history is prevalent with bleak times, the start of the 20th century Armenia was being targeted by Turkey causing Armenians to be threatened as well as surviving through a genocide. This was just the beginning of a turbulent past. When the USSR claimed the Eastern Block as well as countries such as Georgia and Armenia, the communist rule caused mass poverty, Russification and a loss of identity for many shattered Armenians.
In present times, Armenia is a developing country, where corruption shows an insight in the still very communist mind set older generations still in power have. The capital itself shows metaphorically the harsh times Armenia has endured by the highly brutal and communist buildings that impose their presence within the capital. The raw concrete of the buildings similar to cheap shanty town apartments express one of the many reasons for communist failure.
Sweden and their present state: in complete contrast, Sweden a neutral country and an ideal location many immigrants due to free healthcare, education and a functioning government expresses population and governmental stability. Buildings express the rich historical past of Sweden as well as the modern and minimal aesthetic Scandinavian countries are now renown for.
Colour importance within Armenian clothing
Traditional garments worn especially by women present warm maroons and warm earthy tones. This expresses the connections Armenians have had with their land. By presenting importance to their natural heritage, fruits and landscapes have been expressed within clothing as inspiration for colour palettes. Mainly focusing on the tough mountainous red rocks as well pomegranates and apricots, these have led Armenian clothing and Tapestries to indicatively express the natural hues within traditional craft.
Common colour palette for Armenian clothing as well as art. Warm rich earth tones are the predominant colours used verging towards warm reds and maroons.
October in Yerevan, 1961
Colour importance in Swedish culture
Sweden's colour use has been intricate and reflective of people's providence from the country for centuries. By using specific colours many Swedish people could easily detect where others came from. However similarities shaped certain styles that were easily recognisable as Swedish folklore. One of Sweden's famous patterns printed on wooden horses, The Dala Horse expresses the same flower patterns with usually blue petals and green stems that can also been seen within embroidery of folklore clothing. This pattern, similar to Armenian culture expresses the nature surrounding Sweden and the flora that was used at mid summer. The Twin Flower i.e. Linnaea borealis can also be recognised within many patterns, as it is the national flower.
Swedish colour palettes present the same warm reds, however also express cool toned blues and greens mimicking the natural surroundings of forestry in Sweden
Armenian Christian heritage and the Overshadowing from the Soviet Union
'Armenia reestablished its independence nearly 25 years ago, but the legacy of the USSR in the country lives on through leftover Soviet architecture. These buildings across the republic are as fascinating as they are monotonous; they are eerie and devoid of aesthetic. Their utilitarian purpose is incorporated into the design: colourless blocks, uniform heights. It is only with the appearance of the trappings of a modern society – like satellite dishes – that we can be sure we have not traveled back in time. Or, in some way, maybe we have.'
Opera House, Yerevan
Surprisingly enough, even though homes and apartments were made with little to no effort, governmental buildings took time and precision. Still upholding the brutal soviet aesthetic the buildings that stood to represent Communism and Armenia's government showed great presence with their tall structures and harsh grey colour palette. These buildings such as the Opera House still stand and express a great power that once was Communism and the USSR.
Saratak, Armenia, Chris Herwig
Saratak, Armenia, Chirs Herwig
Armenian and Swedish Architectural textures
Not only do I want to focus on the geometry and shapes presented within both countries architectural buildings, but it is also important to look at the textures the buildings with hold. Swedish design places a lot of importance of the natural use of wood, steel etc. and executes it in a delicate crisp matter. This is contradictory to Armenian communist buildings that show the rugged worn out textures expressing the lack luster colours use, and little to none of detail and craftsman ship.
Within my end garment i want to express these textures through yarn to express the shapes and forms that buildup both countries I come from.
Translation of Architectural shapes in Garments
Looking at fashion designers, specifically at knitwear, I try and convey my newfound research from above into a garment. To do so I've started looking at fashion designers that express similarity in ways in which their clothes translate the geometric shapes and forms I have looked at within Armenian Communist and Pre-Soviet architecture as well as Swedish modern minimal design.
Looking at James Long's knits, I immediately could see the similarity they had to the geometry within his patterns and the Armenian bus stops. The sharp edges of the shapes in express the similar curvature of the communist aesthetic, even though this is unintentional the coherency creates good textural references I can use in my project. On the left, looking at the garments they convey a more disorderly aesthetic, where tassels allow the garments to flow more naturally. This links in to the Scandinavian cladding present within modern architecture.
Looking at Postle's work, I'm interested in conveying her juxtaposition of fabric with textiles. Her use of sheer delicate material overlapped with tactile knitted yarn creates dimensionality in the garments I wish to be able to convey in my own work. Design wise, by incorporating these contradictions in texture and techniques merges well with my project ideas and brief, where I want to show the contrast of a well structured architectural element in harmony with the folklore colours and Armenian crafts that I have looked at.
Jil Sander SS18
Looking at Jil Sander's Spring Summer 2018 collection I gravitated towards the knits with colours, as they express a similar relation to Folklore within Swedish clothing. Moreover, by looking at their what seems a macrame technique, this would be interesting to incorporate in my own work to give a structures element that connects to the idea of geometry present in both Armenian and Swedish architecture.
Folklore: Patterns, Clothing
Known as folkdräkt, Sweden has mostly had a large variation of traditional clothes variating between regions and cities. However at the beginning of the 20th century, Sweden created the now iconic yellow and blue frock worn by women. Mainly worn when celebrating mid summer, these frocks express patterns and bright colours such as: yellow, green, blue and red. Folkdräkt was mainly worn to express what area of Sweden you were from, with intricate embroidery hand stitched, Swedish traditional attire expressed vibrant designs and colours where craft was highly important and time consuming. The purpose of creating hand made frocks allowed them to then be passed through generations allowing Swedish families to have an aesthetic of their own in relation to their geographical positioning within Sweden. This allowed manySwedish people to build their identity through these traditional garments representing their heritage and family craft - snapping from prints to embroideries.
Sweden is renown for Scandinavian design as well as presenting minimalism and craftsmanship to a global level. Sweden has always presented a specific minimalism to their architecture throughout history. In comparison to Armenian architecture, Sweden has always had the beliefs of modesty and a reserved nature to the aesthetics of buildings. Even though old towns and city centres are crowded with buildings that have passed through centuries and express detail and craft, Swedish churches have never been as decorated as Catholic and Gregorian (Christianity branch adopted by the Armenians) churches. Protestant faith has believed in a more 'restrained' and 'soft spoken' aesthetic where their churches express geometry within their architecture and cladding in the exterior, but only the essentials and elementary ambience within the interiors.
Kiruna Church, Sweden
This protestant church expresses the geometric shapes and simple cladding that much of Swedish design still encapsulates to this day.
Swedish Modern Design and Concepts
Today Swedish architecture expresses concerns for ecological design, high tech functions, expressionism and neofunctionalism. Architects such as Gert Wingårdh express these ideas through modern architectural buildings that now Sweden has become renown and well recognised for. The sheer contrast between Sweden and their upturning from the post war era can be easily detected compared to Armenia's newly emerging post soviet rule. Sweden now creating buildings that change the role of architects in society where architecture leans towards concerns and questions of the entire population, infrastructure and an ecological mindset in a Socialist society.
The emergence of a modern take on traditional Swedish homes
In recent years Sweden has flourished in making architecture be a progression of their traditional past. Commonly known for their red cladded homes, Sweden has taken this simple home and converted it into simple, clean and minimal progressions for easy, effective, convivial housing for their population.
The common theme of these homes lies in the simple shapes they present, being built by geometric shapes and forms. This can be comparable to communist buildings that can be found in Armenia to a certain degree. The boxy shapes can have similarities in shape however artistry and craft and functionality are missing from the cold empty Communist buildings.