The rhythmic clattering of looms busy at work now fills the first floor of one the buildings that used to house the GharMedaksCombine in the Artsakh capital of Stepanakert.
For the past nine months a company called Gharabagh Carpet has been operating in the space in an attempt to restore the art of rug weaving in the country using design patterns that have been preserved in photos from the past.
The company also employs experienced weavers who can pass on the characteristics that make an Artsakh carpet stand out.
These experienced weavers also teach newcomers for the first month about the basics of the carpet making.
Skilled weavers say that working with the multi-colored threads is a pleasure but that it’s not easy.
There are a number of intricacies and secrets involved that can take years to master. The longer one weaves, the more they learn about the craft,” says Lena Arakelyan who has thirty years of experience under her belt.
Gharabagh Carpet also has production facilities in Shoushi and the Martouni
Mary, a Syrian-Armenian, moved to Stepanakert with her husband seven months ago. She is still undergoing training on the loom.
“It’s only my second day, but I already like the work very much,” Mary says. “I’m a bit allergic to the threads but this happens to everyone at the beginning. It passes. It’s interesting work. What’s important is to use colorful thread.”
Mary is being tutored by Lena Arakelyan, who says her student is a quick learner. “In the span of just two days, she can look at a photo and weave the correct motifs.”
“I’m not only teaching her how to weave but also how to bake our famous zhengyalov hats (bread mixed with a variety of local herbs and greens). I’m also teaching her the local dialect so that she feels like a native.”
Weavers are paid by the square meter – 58,000 AMD. Since most of the women are newcomers learning the craft some 30% take home that amount at the end of the month.
Company Director Sevak Khachatryan says that the minimum wage will rise to 70-80,000 AMD in a year.
The carpets produced in Artsakh are exported to the
Gharabagh Carpet plans to open showrooms in
Video: Saro Baghdasaryan
Photos: Narek Alexanyan