24 November 2014, 14:00
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"Dolls are people, too!": Armenian Doll Exhibit in Yerevan

A new exhibition called “Doll Stories” recently opened in Yerevan, headed by Marina Khachmanukyan, in charge of excursions at Yerevan’s Historical Museum. On her own initiative, Marina has gathered a respectable collection of dolls from various time periods in Armenian history.The purpose of the exhibition is to present the dolls as an inseparable part of life, that is telling of both our past and our present. The exhibition is at the National Historical Museum, and will stay open until the end of the year.

Dolls and Traditions

The exhibit is divided into several themed sections. At its beginning, you’ll find dolls wearing traditional Armenian garments. Throughout the centuries, these dolls have been much more than simple toys. They were once considered protectors of the hearth, or talismans of good luck. Marina is sure that anyone who has a doll of this kind, is also in possession of a small part of Armenian culture and tradition.

Sofia Ashkharumova: A Woman of High Society

In another part of the exhibit you can find a few legendary works by Sofia Ashkharumova, a Parisian coquette and daughter of Benjamin Ashkharumova, a Russian courtier with Armenian roots. Sofia’s gentle handiwork illustrates scenes and personalities of the Armenian bourgeoisie. These dolls are over one hundred years old, but they look as good as new.

Armand Marseille: The Wishes of Children in Pre-Revolutionary Armenia

The German brand, Armand Marseille, is also represented in a collection of delicate, porcelain dolls. During the first half of the twentieth century, every Yerevan local could allow his or herself that kind of lavishness. Moreover, every father knew that his child would love the doll. At that time period there was no store dedicated to toys in Yerevan, so you would find dolls in the most unusual places. A snippet from a paper called “Yerevan Classifieds”, shows an ad for Armand Marseille dolls sold at a clothing store.

A Process of Natural Selection: Only the Strongest Dolls Will Survive!

After the establishment of the USSR, Anatoly Lunacharsky, the first Soviet People's Commissar of Education, decided that delicate dolls were symbolic of the bourgeoisie, and therefore unsuitable toys for Soviet children. Soon Soviet-pre-approved plastic dolls went into production and became a part of the daily lives of children living in the USSR. It came to be known as the “Pups” doll and it grew famous as an undoubtedly integral member of children’s tea parties and little girls’ playtime games. Nevertheless, throughout the 1970 and 1980s, every little girl dreamed of owning a German doll.

Armenian Dolls: Lifelike, but also Lanterns?

It would be a shame to bypass by the works of modern Armenian doll-makers with indifference. Their creations are extremely human-like. Armenian dolls look at you with eerily realistic eyes. Professor Veta Grigoryan from the State Fine Arts Academy, for example, has made many dolls which exude animation and life-like vibrance.

On the other (less human) hand, the dolls designed by artist Karine Piliposyan are also functional. Some are used as teapot accessories and some are even used as lanterns! Among them you may find classic characters such as Anna Karenina, Nastasya Filipovna, and also the Lady of the Camellias.

Every Doll Has A Story

Every doll has its story, you just have to read the text. Near the entrance of the exhibit, visitors of all ages can act out Little Red Riding Hood with dolls. In this mini-performance, the wolf can be acted out as being a rather kind and likeable character, protecting Little Red from evil hunters. Everything is left to the discretion of the little visitors.

More than just a Museum

Through her project, Marine Khachmanukyan hopes to draw attention in the Armenian community to the significance of dolls. After all, they are an inseparable part of our daily lives. “Around the world there are many doll museums that are quite popular. Our city should also have such a museum. Dolls are unique guides that can tell us about some of the most fascinating fragments of our history," says Marina. The curator was able to assemble the doll collection with help from her friends and family. The exhibition will be open for yet another two months. We have no doubt that anyone who visits will be pleasantly surprised.

 

Այս հոդվածի հայերեն տարբերակի համար սեղմեք այստեղ։ 

 

 

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