09 April 2018

When Armenian ceramics decorate walls

The Armenian Balian family in Jerusalem has become well known, since the beginning of the 20th Century, for decorated ceramics. Yet preserving this art, grandchildren have created something new.

Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

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In 1922 the Armenian Bailan family founded a ceramics factory in Jerusalem. Since then, the family’s sons and nephews have inherited and preserved this ancient craft, and continue to develop it.

NISHAN BALIAN
Director of a Palestinian Ceramics factory in Jerusalem.
"In 1919 the British commissioned my family, then living at Kutahya in Turkey, a town famous for its ceramics, to restore tiles facing the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and so it was that we moved here. We were welcomed, especially as victims of the 1915 genocide in Turkey, are today we are proud to be Armenian Palestinians.

As well as making traditional domestic items, the Balian family has developed its art to become specialists in fashioning ceramic tables, murals and flooring, often gaining inspiration from the local environment. A succesful application of this concerns the decoration of hotels and museums in Palestine.

NISHAN BALIAN
Director of a Palestinian Ceramics factory in Jerusalem
"We are the only family involved in the creation of these murals which range in size between five and 15 meters. We learned this art from my mother, who died five months ago. She gained a wide reputation for her work, which has been made available in many countries.

Various art is on display at the family museum, while much is for sale in a shop facing the factory. Reflecting aged-old tradtions, this art simultaneously approaches the future with innovation.