Armenian ornamental ceramic art after 10th century

Jul 20, 2023

The Colorful Journey of Armenian Porcelain: From Glorious Heights to Symbolic Blends

10th-12th centuries is attributed to colorful and transparent glazed high quality porcelain production. Among them can be found porcelain items alike Chinese porcelain and other similar items. A very special place was given to carved tape thin bowls. Later in 13th centuary sky blue and blue porcelain glasses with facing sculptures were produced. From 13th century, as a result of the Tatar-Mongol, then the Turkish-Seljuk invasions, with the economic downturn of Armenia the further development of ceramics is almost stopping, it begins to overwhelm the dry and general pattern. Despite the 13th-18th centuries, Armenian ceramic artists in Isfahan and Konya were preparing building beautiful tiles and glazed porcelain items. In the 17th century when the ceramics was living a downturn in Turkey, the only pottery center remined was in Kutahya, where were situated Armenian pottery whole districts. The craftsmen of Kutahya were complementing Turkish ornaments with Christian thematic and symbolic images in their works, as well as the signatures, which confirmed the identity of the Armenian masters.
Chinese porcelain vase - Exquisite blue and white hand-painted design with intricate motifs.
Chinese porecelain
Armenian-inscribed water bottle of 1529 - Historical Kütahya artifact with dated inscriptions on the base ring.
Water bottle of 1529 with dated Armenian inscriptions inside its base ring. Kütahya
These items decorated the interior of the churches, the sultan’s palace, exported to Europe, thanks to which Kutahya become so famouse.

From Kütahya to Jerusalem: The Enduring Legacy of Armenian Ceramic Artisans

Later Armenian potters from Kutahya came to Jerusalem during the early days of the British Mandate to repair and maintain the tile work on the Dome of the Rock. Because of the Armenian Genocide and the subsequent Greco-Turkish War, those potters stayed in Jerusalem. According to Henry Glassie: At the beginning of the twentieth century, half of Kütahya’s workers were Armenians. They left to repair the tiles on the Dome of the Rock, never to return, and today their descendants make a variety of Kütahya çini in Jerusalem. The city of Kütahya in Turkey, birthplace of the Armenian ceramic artists, members of the Ohannessian, Balian and Karakashian families, has been the center of a unique ceramic industry since the post-medieval period, with Armenian artists in its vanguard since the eighteenth century. As early as the fourteenth century, and mainly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one could discern large groups of Armenian artists creating ceramic tiles for wall decoration used in churches and mosques, as well as ceramic ware.

The Dome of the Rock, a majestic golden-domed structure in Jerusalem. Intricate tiles beautifully restored by Ohannessian, Karakashian, and Balian families, preserving its historical and cultural significance.
Dome of the Rock - Restored Tiles by Ohannessian, Karakashian, and Balian Families

Armenian Soviet Ceramics: A Blossoming Artistic Heritage in the 20th Century

Despite the rich traditions of Armenian ceramic art, Armenian Soviet ceramics developed from the half of 1950s. First stimulus for the ceramic development was Yerevan porcelain factory, founded in 1954, then the ceramic experimental workshops created under Institute of Art and the creation of Ceramic section in the Yerevan Fine Arts and Theater institute in 1958. From 1960s USSR is getting involved in the International Academy of Potters (Geneva) so Soviet Armenia too. Armenian ceramic artists are starting to exhibit in annual exhibitions in Faenza (Italy).

A group of Armenian students passionately engaged in ceramic artistry, guided by their skilled mentor, Ruben Stepanyan.
Mastering the Craft: Armenian Students Under the Guidance of Ruben Stepanyan

Innovative Fusion: The Stepanyan and Gishyan Families Redefine Armenian Ceramic Souvenir Art

Focusing on souvenir art many families developed in that field creating their own new style. One of those was Stepanyan family, who elaborated a new method of ceramics, remarkable combination of Ancient Armenian pottery and modern souvenir art. Later in the 2000s Gishyan family joined the Stepanyan family and together they started bigger and more effective production of ceramic souvenir art.

A stunning ceramic candle holder crafted by the Stepanyan family, displaying intricate ornamental details and reflecting their artistic brilliance.
Artistic Brilliance: Stepanyan Family's Ornamental Ceramic Candle Holders

An exquisitely designed ceramic vase, showcasing ornamental beauty, jointly crafted by the talented Stepanyan and Gishyan families, a perfect blend of artistic prowess.
Artistic Harmony: Ornamental Ceramic Vase by the Stepanyan and Gishyan Family

A captivating ceramic vase titled 'Glitters of the Sun,' skillfully crafted by Alina Gishyan, featuring shimmering details that evoke the radiance of sunlight.
Ceramic Vase by Alina Gishyan: Glitters of the Sun
Currently, Armenian ceramics is developing in and outside Armenia.