Armenian traditional dress “Taraz”
One of the most prominent measures of expressing and maintaining cultural identity of a country is traditional dress. Armenian traditional dress is called “taraz”.The word itself has many meanings, for example, form, shape, make, fashion, way, manner, look, appearance, formula, costume, uniform, dress.
The appearance of these costumes gradually changed through the centuries, depending upon many factors. Among them, the availability of furs, fabrics, metals, jewelry, embroidery skills, lacework, climatic conditions, and functions.
Let’s take a little journey and discover the most fascinating facts about Armenian traditional dress.
Taraz had many influences through the centuries. These included the Byzantine, Roman, Arabic, Persian, Russian and others. These influences helped shape the design of the taraz. There is historic significance to the evolution of the national costume
Every color in Armenian taraz has a special significance. For example, black is of the earth, white is of the water, the red is of the air and yellow is of the flame. Later, purple was for wisdom, red for bravery, blue for heavenly justice and white for prudence.
There are many variances not only between Armenian traditional dresses from different centuries, but also from two parts of Armenia. For example, Western and Eastern Armenian traditional dresses differ by the fact that in Western Armenia, women’s Taraz was more opulent and richer in golden or silver embroideries. Another significant difference was that in all western provinces, the apron was a necessary attribute of the woman’s costume. It was tied to the waist, chest or the lower back.
Taraz is not just a dress, it also expresses the person's lifestyle. It indicated their wealth and the number of children. The women’s clothing would have decorative embroidery. If she was prosperous, her clothes were decorated with gold and silver threads. One could also find out if the person was married or single by the color of the taraz. This was a very important function for a person wishing to attract a marriage partner.
Silver necklaces and bracelets are an inseparable partof taraz. The final element of the costume was the headdress. A married woman could have a more elaborate "tower" covering half of her forehead. This tower could have ribbons with ornate geometrical designs embroidered on it.
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