Review by Lucine Kasbarian, New Jersey, December 2022
Prepared by Hayk Demoyan
Publisher: Tigran Mets Printing House, Yerevan, 2022
Artwork: Image of the Armenian Woman in Gravures and Postcards – NAASR
Made possible by a grant from the Armenian Studies Program of California State University – Northridge, historian Hayk Demoyan has assembled a compendium of photographic and illustrated historical portraits of Armenian women in a variety of settings. The 200 images in this volume are unique engravings and postcards from the 16th through early 20th centuries that show Armenian women held in high esteem from all walks of life. They include aristocrats, villagers, nuns, rescued women from slavery, a fedayee, caregivers, dancers, weavers, sweet makers.
One of the striking aspects of this collection is the diversity of national costumes, jewelry, headdresses and lifestyles depicted among these females, depending on the geographical regions, social strata and eras in which the subjects lived. Here we see womenfolk from Akhlskha (Javakhk), Akoulis (Nakhichevan), Alexandropol (Gyumri), Baku, the Black Sea Coast, Isfahan; Maragha; Shamakhi, Shushi, Tiflis (Tblisi); Uti (Utik) and Yerevan. There is also representation from Cilicia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Gesaria (Kayseri), Kharpert (Elazig), Moks (Bahçesaray), Nicomedia (Izmit), Smyrna (Izmir), Timar (Erzurum), Trebizond (Trabzon) and Van.
Demoyan includes testimony from traveling foreigners—poets and writers—who commented upon how their “elegant posture, disciplined life and integrity differentiated Armenian women from the women of neighboring ethnic groups.”
This versatile collection of Armenian iconographic heritage, says Demoyan, provide “unique identity markers of the Armenian civilization as a worthy and weighty response to all attempts to deny of falsify the centuries-old Armenian heritage.” The book is a useful source for historical, ethnographic and iconographic research.
To enrich the edition, Image of the Armenian Woman in Gravures and Postcards also includes works of art and illustrations such as engravings supplied from French-Armenian collector Sarkis Bogossian. It is a welcome addition to the existing canon of Armenian anthropological material which leaves this reader hoping that other volumes will follow. The 180-page, glossy softcover is published in full color. The text is in Armenian, English and Russian.