Armenian traditional garments of Karin represented in China
The traditional Armenian garments of Karin/Erzrum (later adopted by Akhaltska/Akhaltsikhe Armenian women) have recently been represented in China by Lilit Antinyan for the cultural fest held at the Beijing International Bilingual Academy.
When Armenian parents in the past gave their daughters in marriage, they included several Taraz (costumes) in the dowry. The costumes must have been exquisite, made by masters who followed century-old traditions of patterning (ornaments with the symbols of either fertility or warding off the evil eye, some of the characters referred to the specific family/clan ancestral heritage).
The Karin masters were notable for their unique techniques. Various kinds of elaborate jewelry were usually added to Karin Taraz. They mainly preferred amber, pearls, and other precious stones. The clothes they sewed had vibrant embroidery with golden or metallic thread. Forehead ornaments were trimmed with delicate lacework.
Another distinctive feature of traditional women’s clothing in Karin/Erzrum was the apron “mezar.” Made of cotton or expensive (velvet, cloth) fabrics, abundantly decorated (especially for weddings), it was a necessary part of the outfit. As in the east, it was “shameful” to go out with an open chin, so here it was “shameful” to appear without an apron. The classic version is a red cloth apron in a set of Karin-Shirak’s clothes with exquisite sewing and braid.
The woman married in Karin put on a red hat made of the thinnest felt, with a long brush of purple or blue twisted silk threads of 40 cm long, called “vard” – literally “rose.”