Inside the textile Kombinat of Gyumri in 1939

Thread making in Gyumri Kombinat

Armenian woman spinning

Once a national pride of artisanship and culture, the struggle begins to rebuild the Armenian textile industry

Live for life, not for survival! Because life is more than survival”

— Sewing Hope for Armenia

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, December 8, 2022 / — Born out of the 44-day Artsakh war in 2020, the war continues every day at the “Sewing Hope for Armenia” social initiative, a war being waged to preserve Armenian culture and history, to preserve the creating hands and hope of Armenian women. Armenian women have suffered heavy losses because of the Artsakh war, but they are strong in will and spirit and fight this war as invincible soldiers. As their weapon of choice, the women of the “Sewing Hope for Armenia” social initiative use the patterns of the invincible Armenian culture over the centuries and make bags, home accessories, and toys, naming them after Armenian queens and important Armenian monuments.

Unfortunately, the raw material used for the production, in particular the woven cloth, is not made in Armenia, attracting criticism to the initiative, which they have chosen to address. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the textile industry in the Republic of Armenia has all but disappeared, ending thousands of years of tradition of worldwide recognizable Armenian woven patterns, once hailed as celebrated artisanship. These patterns, however, continue to be manufactured in neighboring territories, once part of greater Armenia. Though the political borders have moved, this Armenian artisanship remains in Western and Eastern Armenia, today Turkey and Azerbaijan. In the absence of “Made in Armenia”, Sewing Hope for Armenia was forced to make a choice to preserve the Armenian weave, a choice made not only by them, but by many, as evident when visiting the markets, shops, or galleries of Yerevan or Gyumri. They chose to save women and children by giving them an opportunity to live, and at the time, celebrate Armenian weave. Would a better option have been to let them starve and freeze without food or shelter? While the origin and soul of these patterns are without a doubt Armenian (most Islamic countries don’t have churches and crosses on their traditional artisanship), the place of manufacture of this cloth of not disputed or concealed. Much like many products found in Armenia, they come from our more economically industrialized neighbors. Armenia simply doesn’t make them.

Though Armenia’s shops and markets are filled with products “Made in Turkey”, which are bought by many Armenians every day for their daily use and consumption, this cloth attracts targeted attacks, in the media and on social media. Sewing Hope for Armenia has decided to take action and appeal to the Economic stakeholders, Industry Leaders, and Entrepreneurs of Armenia to work together with them in order to re-establish an Armenian textile industry, starting by opening a factory or factories for the production of Armenian fabrics in the territory of Armenia. The idea is a bold and difficult, but a necessary one, one aimed at re-building an Armenia all can be proud of, creating an Armenian economy that can carry the country and the Armenian people. United around the goal of building a greater Armenia, the Armenian people from different parts of the world need to unite their forces to make the impossible possible, and the difficult easy.

Great changes can be made even with the example of one person, and thanks to the unification of the national will, as Armenians usually say: even mountains can be moved!

Lessons are learned in history, taking the example of Mahatma Gandhi, when he began to raise the issue of the importance of economic independence to free India from British rule. Gandhi started spinning thread and making cloth for Indians to wear. In India also, the textile industry had disappeared (deliberately destroyed by the British to boost the English textile industry). This first, symbolic act of weaving was the beginning of Independent India taking its destiny into its own hands – an example for Armenia to follow.

Today, the Armenian market is flooded with Turkish products, particularly textile products. Even if clothes and textile products are made in Armenia, when one delves into the origin of raw materials, the traces inevitably lead us back to Turkey. In other words, directly and indirectly, Armenia continues to enrich a state that has occupied their historical lands, that is killing their children, destroying their homes. After realizing all this well, should Armenia continue in the same way, or is it time to achieve an ”Armenianization.” of the Armenian Economy? Every day, the team at Sewing Hope for Armenia look for ways to re-establish an Armenian Textile Industry.

They are appealing to the Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Armenia to join this important initiative and help restore the heritage of Artisanship that made Armenia famous around the world.

Supporting “Sewing Hope for Armenia” and buying those products made by the loving hands of Armenian women who had lost everything is the first step to rebuilding. Saving a people is the first step to saving a culture.

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Women Helping Women

Nicholas Paillart
Sewing Hope Armenia
+971 54 774 4027
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