Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.



The social and cultural history of Armenians is long; indeed one cannot fully appreciate its parameters without deeper investigation. This paper reports on a segment of Armenian history— the sacred historical textiles housed in the Armenian Orthodox Churches of Istanbul, Turkey. These artifacts had never before been studied, although a select few objects produced in Istanbul have been published in books devoted to the Armenian collections in Jerusalem, Etchmiadzin (Armenia), and the Sis collection from Anatolia currently in Beirut, Lebanon. Illuminated manuscripts receive the greatest attention among the historical Armenian religious artifacts, followed by stone, metal and wooden objects. Magnificent textiles exist in the aforementioned museum collections but have not been studied in as great a detail as in this endeavor. A book on the material, Splender and Pageantry: Textile Treasures from the Armenian Orthodox Churches of Istanbul (Marchese & Breu), is under contract to be published by fall of 2009. A second book on non-textile objects, Treasures of Faith: Sacred Relics and Artifacts from the Armenian Orthodox Churches of Istanbul (Marchese & Breu) is nearing completion.

In 2002 we presented a paper at TSA on the miniature tradition in the textile collections. This paper expands on that work, as we have been studying the collections steadily for over 10 years. The research involved content analysis and ethnographic methodologies in working within the Armenian community in Istanbul.