Woman-shaped salt vessels as one of the signifiers of Armenian folk culture
Since ancient times, Armenians have attributed various magical and auspicious qualities to salt. Across different settlements of Armenia, that holy seasoning was stored and served in unique, woman-shaped salt cellars. Those anthropomorphic small-sized pots have become one of the signifiers of the Armenian culture and were linked with the ideas of fertility and life cycle. Even in rural areas nowadays, such dishes are displayed in the house’s most important corner.
In pre-Christian Armenia, the woman-shaped or female-formed salt cellars were associated with worshiping the beloved goddess Anahit, the deity of fertility, healing, wisdom, and water in Armenian mythology. Some of them portrayed women during pregnancy. According to the latest surveys, women artisans also made and carved those vessels.
As a result of excavations, woman-shaped salt cellars were unearthed in numerous Armenian archeological sites, such as the Bronze Age tombs of Artashat, rock-cut chambers, and cave dwellings in the medieval Armenian capital Ani, Metsamor, Shirak region, Karmrakar, to name a few.
Modern Armenian craftsmen have breathed new life into the distinctive art of woman-shaped vessels, and those ceramic oeuvre has become one the most famous Armenian souvenirs among tourists worldwide.