Historic Armenia traces its lineage far back to the 9th century B.C. Having been around for hundreds of centuries, the Armenian culture has become extremely rich in tradition. These customs have been passed down from generation to generation and still hold importance and significance in the culture and community today.
One custom in particular is the traditional dress of Armenian people, known as taraz. This dress varied from the Eastern and Western Armenian styles. However, taraz from both regions was used to communicate social class, wealth, regional identity, and gender.
Still today, the culturally rich clothing is stunning and ornate in color and decorative detail. Each piece from head to to toe has its own special tradition and history behind it. One custom clothing item of significant importance and beauty, are the headdresses of Armenian women. In ancient Armenia, these stunning headpieces could distinguish a woman’s wealth and class by the fabrics and decorative jewelry they were adorned with.
Headdress for Young Girls
For young girls, braids are worn and decorated with silver chains, woven wool, or thread to accentuate the length and color. Then silver balls and brushes are added as special accent pieces. For the headpiece itself, an embroidered woven or knit cap is worn and decorated with silver ornaments, coins, and brushes. Traditionally from a young age girls are taught how to embroider designs. Embroidery is an especially important part of Armenian Taraz as it is known to keep away the forces of evil.
Headdress for Women
Headdresses for Armenian women are an elevated version of what we’ve seen for young girls. The headpieces are seen in a range of designs and styles, however the overall look features an ornate embroidered cap. Then a veil or kerchief attached to the cap covers the head, shoulders, neck and sometimes a part of the face or mouth.
For decoration, these headpieces are oftentimes adorned with jewelry and silver coins. In ancient Armenia, wealth and social status could be determined by the number of coins on a woman's headdress. Furthermore, women of a more wealthy class decorated their headpieces with gold and gemstones.
Wedding Day Headdress
For weddings headdresses can become particularly ornate. Armenian brides in traditional dress typically wear a pearl, silver or gold chain draped from their headdress. The veil is attached to the back and draped down the shoulders and back. The cap itself is often overly decorated and embellished with pearls, coins, silver or gold. Additionally, this look is often paired with ornate jewelry on the hands and fingers as well. It is tradition to wear an abundance of jewelry on the wedding day because it is believed the clinking of the jewelry wards off evil spirits.
Another interesting cultural tradition of Armenian weddings is the crowning of the bride and groom. Rather than saying “I do”, the couple is anointed king and queen of their households. These crowns are of course highly decorated and embellished as well.
It's remarkable how well these traditions and customs have held up over all this time. Armenian taraz has been passed down from generation to generation and still continues to shine with brilliance and beauty in today's age. As we look to the future to find peace for Armenia we hope to preserve customs and traditions such as these for centuries to come.