46 Comments

Armenia: True to Their Roots


armeniaArmeniaGenealogy members, representing Armenia in Eurovision Song Contest 2015 were recently captured in a new photo shoot. The 6 members are wearing 19th century Armenian national costumes (TARAZ) and jewellery. During the photo shoot Inga Arshakyan from Genealogy was wearing Hamshen Taraz. Being on a professional stage for over 15 years already, Inga had the chance to regularly change her appearance and wear different styles of outfits – from ancient Armenian Taraz to stylish European clothes.

armenia genealogy

“When wearing Taraz the look and the world inside is changing as the clothes, shoes, head decorations and jewelry are completely transforming the person. I have a very deep respect towards all of this as part of the ancient culture; it is happiness to have those parts of culture with us today and we are now the carriers of those values.”

Other participants of the band Stephanie Topalian, Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian and Tamar Kaprelian were wearing Armenian Taraz from Vaspurakan district.

Stephanie Topalian said “You don’t always get to wear those kinds of clothes on regular bases and you need knowledgeable people to help you with clothing. It was such a special moment to wear Armenian national clothes. I believe my grandparents would be so proud. Especially that right now we are in Armenia, it was a very important moment to trace my roots”.

Mary-Jean O’doherty Vasmatzian said “I was wearing Armenian national costumes for the first time. I find those clothes so beautiful – the hats and the jewelry and all the Armenian patterns. It was very inspiring to feel my ancestry. I have seen pictures of my ancestors wearing these types of costumes and it really meant a lot to me to wear that myself. I sent a small picture to my mother and she said I looked just like my grandmother: it was a special moment.”

Tamar Kaprelian said “I was honored to wear Armenian National clothes, Taraz. I was shown various outfits and I am so glad to have the chance to choose Taraz from Kharberd – that is where my grandfather is from.”

Essai Altounian was wearing Lori district Taraz. he said “It was the first time I was wearing taraz and I felt so proud. It was so classy and beautiful and it got me thinking that even many years ago Armenian people already had their taste in clothes and sense of fashion. Those are “old” clothes but the combination of colors is perfectly combined.”

essai armenia genealogy

Vahe Tilbian was wearing Vaspurakan Shatakhi district Taraz saying “I used to wear taraz for Armenian dances back in the days when I was at the Armenian School in Ethiopia. The school used to have a choir and we were all wearing taraz for performances. It was not my first time to wear taraz but when I wore it at Marashlyan studio and looked in the mirror I really felt the Armenian spirit. It reminded me of my Armenian background, though I always remember my Armenian roots, it was a very emotional moment that stamped in my memory.”

During the photo shoot Genealogy members learned the history of creation of Armenian Taraz, peculiarities of wearing national clothes also the hidden and obvious meanings of supporting items.

Photos were taken in the Marashlyan photo studio by photographer Emma Marashlyan.

Genealogy will perform second in Semi-final 1 on May 19th.

46 comments on “Armenia: True to Their Roots

  1. I have never understood all that cultural tradition stuff (not only Armenian but in general). I mean it is good to understand traditions and culture but identifying with/being proud of what your ancestors came up with is terribly dangerous imo and not a sign of a free person. Might be that I am over-sensitive here which might be explained by me being German. I know what overrating what is defined as a collective “own” can lead to.

    • But patriotism is different to nationalism.

      I can say the UK (well more specifically England) is the 2nd best country in the world, in my opinion, and I’m proud to have been born here and live here. Doesn’t mean I’d ever vote for a racist nationalist party like UKIP or BNP as both my maternal grandparents were immigrants.

      Despite being one of the 7 deadly sins in the bible, pride is not a bad thing.

      “I am proud to be English”, is different from “England for the English” in fact some of a countries most patriotic citizens can often be its migrant population, as they weren’t born there, they’ve actually made the conscious choice to come to that country, and worked for citizenship instead of just having it handed to them at birth, so they can often actually have even more pride in it.

      That’s what 5 of these people represent, they didn’t have Armeninan citizenship at birth, it was a part of their heritage and they chose to represent Armenia, learn more about and now embrace its culture.

      • I see your point and don’t have issues with being German at all. I was born after all the crimes committed by Germany after all. Present day Germany, and in particular Ba-Wü is a fantastic place to live in. :) However, being proud is a concept totally alien to me. I just try to live along the lines of what I think good and humane. And I could never be proud of sth achieved by others or a collective concept like the national state (which I don’t like to begin with).
        Do you really rank countries? And what about the UK’s colonial past?

        • I don’t have a full ranking lol, can barely make a full ranking for ESC!!

          However I do think in terms of the UK’s contribution to the world, we are probably 2nd behind only America. We have one of the 5 biggest economies, our music industry is 2nd after Americas, we’re the 2nd biggest aid donor in the world, it was the UK that first stood up to Hitler and largely stood alone (with its commonwealth) for a period during the war. It’s us who had the first female prime minister in Europe, its our prime minister (churchill) who was seen to play the biggest part in winning world war 2, writing the human rights act, and as one of the founding fathers coming up with the idea of the EU. Militarily yes our empire one spanned 1/4 of the globe, no other empire has ever managed that. Our universal health care service, being completely free for everyone is seen by many as the best in the world and the first of its kind. Our food once a laughing stock is now world class, English wines and cheeses regular win food contests beating french varients and London has the 2nd most michelin stars after Tokyo. Our financial system has overtaken New York to be the worlds biggest. 600,000 people chose to migrate to the UK last year alone, they could have picked anywhere and they chose us.

          Yes Britain has made mistakes, like the barbarity of some of its empire days, the Iraq war, voting for Leon Jackson to win X factor 2007, and we should never forget these, but on balance they don’t outweigh, in my opinion all the great stuff we’ve achieved.

          Someone else could probably make a case for their own country being better, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s a healthy pride.

          All my points are patriotic not nationalistic, because I see UK as welcome to anyone.

          Nationalism is the dark side, the side that says, England is only for the english, britain for the british, if your not like me, or not from here, you are somehow inferior, that is what should be condemned.

          • “Militarily yes our empire one spanned 1/4 of the globe, no other empire has ever managed that.”

            You really think that this is sth to be proud of? I rest my case …
            Btw, I adore Churchill. If only the UK had a guy like him instead of that Mr. Cameron, who suffers from political myopia imo. :(

            • The empire wasnt totally negative, yes in general the principle of conquering other people is bad, but in terms of livelihood and economic development, the British Empire did a lot of good.

              The Indian railway is largely considered a modern wonder of the world, Britain built that. Or take Zimbabwe, yes conquering them was bad morally, but can you say Zimbaweans are better off now than they were as a colony, you’d have a very tough time making that case.

            • That genuinely surprises me, Churchill was a anti-semitic, racial supremecist who promoted use of poison gas in war and was a racist who helped cause untold suffering and deaths at worst and at best did nothing to help e.g Bengal famine – he would not help as the ‘beastly’ Indians would breed like rabbits apparently. The last thing the UK needs is a prime minister with any of Churchill’s abhorrent outdated views imo. He makes Farage and UKIP look pretty lame in comparison on the racist stakes!

            • Dear hulluna, please understand that I am writing from a German point of view. At the end of the day, it was Churchill who saved Germany from Hitler. I am totally partial here … :( Of course I know about all the bad things Churchill stands for and that is the reason too why I brought up the UK’s colonial past with all the crimes connected to this terrible episode of UK history. Churchill was a child of his time, and a pretty nasty one … but he had set his mind on stopping the Nazis, and I’ll be grateful forever. I hope that you can understand …

            • yeah of course, I guess I cannot see it from a German perspective.

              Reading all the stuff over in Philadelphia last week when I visited about what the British did over there… *sigh* We really were awful.

            • I lived in Philly for four years and hope you liked it!

            • Philly was awesome, we fell a little bit in love with it!

            • Did you guys travl the East coast or stayed some place? I lived on the corner of Samson st. and 17th, right down town! near the Rittenhouse square. What did you guys get to see in Philly? Besides South Street :p

            • We stayed on corner of 17th and Ben Frank Pkway! Did the Liberty Bell and Rocky Steps, and Pat’s at cheese steak corner! City Hall was pretty, did the LOVE sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza and we had fab breakfast in the market. We were only there overnight sadly, would like to go back.

            • I am very happy to learn that you enjoyed your trip. I haven’t been to the USA for 15 years. :(

            • so you were very close to where I lived and where I went to school (Friends Select, on 19th and Parkway)! yeah, you did the historical corner of Philly, with the red brick houses, but you should totally go to South Street with all the hipsters and good bars lol

      • There’s no such thing as best and worst countries in the world.It’s not some like of contest.Born in a certain country from certain people is a random fact.Of course,you can love your country and be proud of your ancestors but that’s another thing.

        • *like some kind of contest,being born

        • There’s not a set list obviously, but its normal for people to have a favourite country.

          Just like there’s no such thing as an official best song ever, you personally are entitled to have your own favourite song that you think is the best ever.

          The problem occurs when people start to force their opinion on others, or talking individuals rather than the nation, ie if Hitler had just said, Germany is the best country ever in my opinion, that’d be patriotic, when he started saying Germans themselves were the best, ie master race, and it was something genetic that became nationalistic and bad.

          • “but its normal for people to have a favourite country.”

            I agree … but not if you have a historical and ethical frame of reference. Do you know as much about France, Andorra, Bulgaria, Botswana, Ecuador, Laos and Kiribati as you know about the UK? If you answer “no”, your ranking goes straight to the bin. You see, I am 47 years old and I study every free minute I have to learn as much as I can … in the vain hope to be able to come up with one valid judgement at least before I die. I still have a very long way to go … :(

            • Apart from France none of those countries have had anywhere near the level of impact on the world that the UK has. I’m not saying UK is best/2nd best at everything, im sure each of those countries has their own individual charms, but I think the UK would beat them in more areas than they would beat the UK. It’s not all opinion either, the UK IS the 2nd biggest donor in the world that is fact, as is our music industry and number of Michelin stars, (much like in ESC results, we seem to have an extremely high number of 2nd places)

            • And impact is a good thing you think? Good night. :)

            • positvie impact then.

              Yes in the past we have done bad stuff, but I think today most people would argue that the UK is a force good rather than evil, same with Germany. Yes 1939-1945 happened, but Germans today can hold their heads high that they live in a modern stable liberal democracy with a thriving economy, thriving culture and music scene, world class technology and engineering industry if not the best and again overall is a force for good in the world now.

            • Ba-Wü for n° 1!!! LOL g’night, Max. :)

          • This ranking doesn’t really makes sense to me but anyway.Of course,there are countries that are doing better than others in terms of having more robust institutions,a strong and very present civil society,a better human rights record etc,etc.And taste-wise you may like the peoples mentality of a certain country more than another and find it more beautiful than another one but that’s that.
            Anyway,Congratulations on the birth of your royal baby. :D

            • It’s more about your contribution to the world.

              If you think about famous brits, or british inventions, british culture, more people would probably be able to think of more of those things than they could for example, Paraguay. And in the end it’s largely a personal preference, most people go with their birth country, others move to a new country and proudly call it their own, others love countries without having ever been.

              And please do not talk to me about that baby.

              One of things I didn’t mention is the UK royal family, our royal family is the most well known across the UK etc, when you talk about “the queen” in countries without a monarchy, most people automatically refer to the British one, etc but for me personally I would rather the UK was a republic. I hate inherited privilige, I hate that in our country we are subjects not citizens, that, an ordinary boy or girl will never have the chance to represent their country as head of state, I hate that one gold digging woman giving birth for the 2nd time can somehow dominate the news agenda for 2 days over the crisis in Nepal, the rescue of 200 Nigerian school children, and the general election to decide whether our economic recovery survives or not.

            • “the UK royal family, our royal family is the most well known across the UK etc”

              should read “most well known across the world” lol

          • Are you done bragging about how great the UK is?

            “I’m not saying UK is best/2nd best at everything”

            Yes, that is exactly what you are doing.

            • Nope, although we are the fastest growing economy in the developed world, I am prepared to concede that USA, China, Japan and Germany still have bigger economies than ours. That’s one thing where we don’t come first or 2nd.

              ALso while we do get a lot of tourists, a lot of other countries get many more.

              That’s 2 things where we arent best/2nd best.

    • Not so long ago, a new party was formed in Denmark, The National Party. Despite the name, they define themselves as an anti-nationalist and anti-xenophobic party, saying that “the Danish values are under pressure”: values such as tolerance, freedom of belief, openness.

      Those who formed it are of middle eastern origin. They came to Denmark in the 80’s, and they say they miss the Danish values that they met back then.

  2. I saw this photoshoot some days ago.I hope they won’t go on stage wearing those traditional costumes.lol I suppose they’ll keep the official video’s styling.

  3. The traditional costumes are very beautiful though. Better than German lederhosen and bollenhüte for sure.

    • They’re but then the genre of their song isn’t ethno folk so,i hope they aren’t think of wearing them on stage.It would look ultra cheesy and like they use it as a vote-collecting method.

  4. I think this year is particularly poignant for the Armenians and they are definitely using it it subtly raise the issue of their history… and the genocide. There was a huge march in New York when I was there last week to mark the 100 years and demand it be recognised as genocide etc. Emotional stuff. http://asbarez.com/134605/thousands-gather-in-times-square-to-honor-armenian-genocide/

    • Thanks for sharing. I acknowledge the genocide and wish that Turkey would finally do so too because they will always have a pathological collective identity if they don’t. Did it damage Germany that we faced the crimes committed in the past? No, quite the contrary. However, this report is too essentialist and patriotic for me to like it, but perhaps people who have been victims of planned annihilation need this approach to keep going. What does a highly privileged (within the global context) German guy know about being a victim? Nothing.

  5. Cool and beautiful traditional dresses. Too bad the song is among my least favourites this year. A mess with six individual singers serving as just individuals rather than a united group. But good luck!

    And as for being a patriot / nationalist. I think that a good balancing is the best way to make it out. I personally see no problem in itself to feel attached and linked to your own culture and traditions and also feel proud of it. In fact, I agree with former UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld (who was anything but a nationalist) that a strong connection with your own culture is also one of the best ways to learn to love and appreciate other cultures too. But there are of course dangerous aspects of that too. We’ve seen too many times in history how much terror and chaos one can create if the naional pride is pushed to its extremes. To consider other cultures more inferior than your own is the best way to start conflicts and hatred. So as I said, a balance is what you need with things like this.

  6. Guys little nations have their own complexes and psychological approaches to certain things which are different! I can notice some typical examples in myself aswell ! And yes every nation has its right to be proud without forgetting about the bordors and without making cheap populism from patriotism!

  7. Now a little bit more detailed about issues raised above as on smartphone and outside it was quite hard to post my point correctly. Like I said for little nations and small countries with specific background have bit different way of thinking and feelings. I comment about the case of Geneology members! None of them said that Armenia and Armenians are superior to all other nations and countries.
    Just these guys represent a nation which once was an Empyre, later big kingdom, later lost independence for 6-7 centuries in row and who had to live under dominance of different nations, later due to different reasons (massacres, earthquakes, war, Systemic revolutions and political situations) had to migrate! In the result of the environment described above people created a tools of psychological ‘’self-protection’’ as minority. One of the main tools of that ‘’self-protection’’ was being proud for who you are and never be ashamed for being minority.
    Maybe for a German it maybe nothing worth to think about, but Armenians love to talk how old cultural and historical background they have, kind a :
    – There was a time during Tigranes the Great we were Empyre and that wasn’t always we were such small country unknown for average teenager outside ….
    – We were the first nation who accepted Christianity as the only State Religion back in 301
    – We have own alphabet…
    – Armenian Mailov brothers built First Opera house in the Region for Armenian community in Baku (Now Azerbaijanian propaganda forgets about it and just claims that first Opera building in the region was built in Azerbaijan without mentioning by whom and for who)
    – Armenian Tigran Tchoukhajian is the founder of the first opera institution in the Ottoman Empire (the author of the first Armenian opera)
    – Color TV was invented by an Armenian scientific, First ATM was created by an Armenian, Aram Khachaturyan is Armenian, Armenian royal family of architects Balyans built built many outstanding buildings in Turkey etc etc
    With above mentioned examples and many others Armenians protect themselves from some complexes they have and that is mainly strong among Diasporian Armenians btw.
    I would certainly offer Toggie to watch a movie “Mayrig” for better understanding what I talked above and maybe failed to explain due to time and language limit! I’m sure this movie will be both esthetically and educationally very useful for understanding the way of thinking of many diasporian Armenians. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaVc_XVDk18

    • I perfectly understand and respect why people (and in particular those living in diaspora) cling to their roots. It is a strategy for surviving, as you correctly pointed out. I guess that at the end of the day, it all comes down to who you are and where you come from. If I think about German culture and history as a packegae, what should I be proud of? The Thirty Years’ War? The fact that we attacked France every couple of years? The fact that our Kaiser was mainly responsible for the 1st world war? The fact that we attacked almost every other nation and killed millions of people in the 2nd World War? The shoah? No. Of course there are things I love in German culture: the German classics (Goethe and Schiller), the music by Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler and Strauss, expressionist art, Kant’s philosophy (which is sort of my bible), Freud, Rilke’s and Bachman’s poetry, the landscape painting of C. D. Friedrich, Besenwirtschaften, Swabian food, punctuality etc. But if I want to be proud of sth, I can’t just pick what I like and ignore the rest. I think that it would be much easier to identify if I came from a country with a less horrible history of trying to dominate, annihilate, conquer etc. others all the time, if I was Danish, Belgian, Maltese or Andorran f. e.

  8. They could have chosen a better song and still be true to their roots. Lovely costumes.

    P.S. – the expression heavy-handed comes to mind when I hear Armenia 15.

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