Armenian Jerusalem
                                         Armenians   have   earned   for themselves    a    distinction    as    great artisans.     Whether     it's     ceramics, pottery,    photography    or    jewelry, the    product    of    their    handiwork always excels.                         Among     the    Armenians     of Jerusalem,   the   art   of   turning   gold   and   precious stones   into   works   of   art   has   been   unparalleled.   Melkon   Babigian stands   out   as   one   of   the   most   prominent   kaghakatsi   goldsmiths   and jewellers.                In   his   heyday,   his   was   the   ultimate   in   precious   metals   and   stones perfection, and he wielded his expertise with astute savvy.                     But    later generations    would    outdo    his    virtuosity,    with    their    more    daring    and inspirational    handiwork.    Some    of    them,    like    Setrag    Hagopian,    would    receive    their apprenticeship at the hands of the great maestro, Garo Guloyan.                Setrag   was   born   in   the Armenian   Quarter   of   the   Old   City   -   his   father, Abraham,   (the   "king of   wool")   was   a   prosperous   merchant   and   the   family   of   eight   moved   to   a   mansion   he   had bought   in   West   Jerusalem,   only   to   flee   seek   sanctuary   in   the   Old   City   when   the   1948   Arab Israeli war broke out.                 In   Guloyan's   workshop,   in   the   cobblestoned   alleys   of   Jerusalem,   Setrag   found   it   hard   at first   and   had   to   struggle   to   hone   the   skill   and   nurture   the   creativity   that   would   come   into full fruition later when he set up his own business in Sydney, Australia.                But   his   initiation   into   the   Australian   goldsmith   and   jewellery   industry   came   after   much travail   and   trepidation.   Like   most   other   migrants,   he   had   to   take   up   whatever   job   was   on offer   before   he   could   find   his   niche   in   the   Lucky   Country   he   had   come   to.   One   of   the   first jobs   he   undertook   was   to   pain   some   walls.   Although   he   knew   nothing   about   painting,   aside from   moving   a   brush   up   and   down,   he   managed   to   get   less   paint   on   his   overalls   than   he   did on the walls.      His supervisor was not amused.      "You are no painter," he proclaimed.      "I am a designer," Setrag replied.      The supervisor could only gape.                He   was   not   the   first   or   last   one   to   be   rendered   speechless   by   Setrag   who   would   soon come   into   his   own,   and   indulge   his   creativity   in   coaxing   breathtaking   shapes   of   gold   and jewellery, to a long list of satisfied customers.
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
Loading