An Armenian miniature reflecting the role of cradles in the Armenian collective memory
In one of the Armenian manuscripts created and illuminated in Crimea by Grigor
Sukiasiants in the year 1332 (Matenadaran N7664), in the particular scene of Nativity
(Pic.) Jesus is not depicted in the manger, neither on the castle-like structure nor even
lying on the stylised abstract ornament. The illuminator drew baby Christ in the cradle or
crib next to his mother. This iconographic nuance in fact speaks on Armenian ethnic
ideologies and conventional family relations.
Armenia itself was frequently described by the foreigners as a “cradle of civilisations” .
According to the prominent linguist and etymologist Hrachia Acharian, cradle, “ororots”
(օրորոց) in Armenian, derives from the word “oror” (օրոր)- a soft slow song (could be defined
as a “lullaby”) to put the baby to bed, and is described as “an object for rocking a newborn
child for making him sleep”. Thus, the Armenian folklore and cradle were a single whole, in
concordance with the Armenian approaches to family and children.
The main material for these cradles or cribs was the local wood, some of the samples are
covered with carved floral and geometric ornaments (similar to the patterns of embroidered
aprons and silver accessories) featuring the Tree of Life, others carrying the function of
protective signs, warding off the evil eye.
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