Armenian National Costumes
By Arakel Patrik
aim of this work is to show the Armenian Costume from ancient historical
times up to the I quarter of the XX century. In Armenia as well as every
where costume has become liable to the historical evolution of different
In the IX century (B.C.) Urartu was a very powerfull kingdom. During the archaeological
excavations there were found many remarkable documents illustrating the
of Formation of the Armenian People - From the times of Urartian
domination upon the High-lands of Armenia, there were also different tribes
living there, the main of which were Hayasa-Azzies and Arim Armens, who
merged in the course of centuries: we haven't got any documents illustrating
their costumes but according to the evidence supplied by the well-known
historian Tacite (55I20 A.D.)- "Armenians as to their geographical position
and their customs had intimate relations with Parthas. Their costumes were
alike as well".
Arrnenian Costume in the Period of Artashesian Dynasty - In
the year of 189 B.C. on the initiative of king Artashes I an independent
kingdom was formed in Armema. The dominating language in the expanded Armenia
was Armenian. Tigran II (95-56 B.C.) being himself a great "Hellenophile"
tried to spread the hellenistic culture all over Armenia. But as to the
costume, he tried to preserve the traditional one as it is seen from the
representations on Roman coins.
Costume in the Period of Arshakounian Dynasty (66-428 A.D.) -
The branch of Parthian-Arshakounies in Armenia founded the dynasty of Armenian-Arshakounies.
As has been mentioned above the friendship established between these two
people found its reflection in the likeness of costumes as well and, especially,
in military and prince's uniforms.
- The Apple of Discord Between Sassanian Persia and the Byzantiurn
Empire. In 226 A.D., when the throne of Iran passed to the Sassanian dynasty
there was put an end to the peaceful co-existence between Armenians and
Parthians: Sassanians couldn't stand
the fact that Armenia became co-religious with their enemy the Byzantium
Empire - accepting Christianity in 301 and f ounding their own alphabet
and literature in 406 thus preserving independence at least in cultural
spheres. But in military and prince's ranks they were obliged to adopt
the costume of the Persian court, and it was only the common people that
preserved their traditional costume unchangeable and of which we have but
very few historical facts. But in Eastern Armenia there were found some
tombs of the IV-VII c.c., on which in the form of high-relief are illustrated
figures of a prince., a nobleman, a craftsman, of women and common people.
of the Arab Domination (640-885) - This period was disastrous
for Armenia. The alien Arab costume was but rarely adopted by those Armenian
princes and owners of caravans-merchants, that had any relations with Arabs.
the period of Bagratounian Reign (885-1045) - Armenia grew economically
and culturally. The Armenian court maintained friendly relations with the
Arab soultanat from where it used to get precious costumes. But as a rule
they wore coronet and a royal garb.
Reign (1080-1219) - In the XI century the majority of the people
of eastern states of Byzantian Empire were Armenians, because Armenian
princes being subjected to the Seljuk invasion had to take a refuge together
with their armies in Byzantium states and, particularly, in Cilicia. In
the XI century Levon II in Cilicia founded the Cilician Kingdom. Due to
the favourable geographical position of Cilicia Armenians came into contact
with European people. This is the very reason that the Armenian costume
of Cilicia to some extent carries foreign influence as it is seen on the
Armenian coins of Cilicia and especially in the miniatures.
of Mongolian Domination (XIII-XIV c.c.) - Armenia as well as
the Transcaucasus was subjected to the destructive domination of Mongols.
In order to make exaction easy they kept local princes who adopted their
costumes (as seen in the miniature illustrations of that time) But the
working people were faithful to their national costume.
Under the Turkish Domination - Beginning from the XIII--XIV
c.c. the Turks from the Middle Asian tribes invaded the countries of the
Middle Eeast and, meeting almost no resistance, advanced from the ruined
Armenia up to the dominations of the Byzantine Empire and to the Seljuk
Soultanat of Gonia. After that the countries of the decaying empire alternately
fell under the domination of the Turkish Osman and in 1453 with the seizure
of Constantinople the Byzantine Empire didn't exis't any more. But the
newly founded Osmanian Empire had to begin a long war against Persia in
the East for domination upon Armenia, the third-fourth of which in the
long run remained under the Osmanian domination. Thus Armenia was divided
into two parts: Eastern Armenia - under the Persian domination, and western
Armenia under the Turkish domination. These two parts varied from the point
of view of their costumes. The Musulman religion of the rulers forbade
the subject Christians to wear identical costumes and thus Armenians fully
preserved their traditional national costume. Armenians as culturally
more advanced were busy in all the branches of craft especially in the creation of textures in the art of costume making. This had significant influence in gradual
improvement of the ruling tribe's costumes.
National Costumes Map (19th-1st quarter of the 20th century)
This map is divided into
6 sections. Click on a section to see
an enlarged version of the
Due to its many-century evolution
and geographical position the Armenian costume played a nodal role among
the costumes of the people of the Middle East. Undoubtedly, the Armenian
costume as well, especially for men ware was partly influenced by the neighbouring
peoples and vice versa, but preserved its national style in general.
Click on an image to see an enlarged
version with caption.