Weapons in The National Costume of Armenians

Weapons in The National Costume

As you know, in the Armenian language, the words “human”, “man” (both “mard”), and “warrior” (“martik”) have the same root.

It is known that in ancient Armenia, there was a special system for organizing armies. Each man was considered and was a warrior and at any moment could be drafted for military service.

Armenian men were free people who had the right to carry weapons, had to always have their weapon with them, and also had to arrive at the predetermined gathering spot upon receiving a signal. Interestingly, this system was operating in the mountainous regions of Armenia – for example, in Artsakh – and successfully functioned until the 18th-19th centuries.

Weapons in the Armenian national costume have existed since ancient times, have deep traditions, and their existence was connected, among other things, with the special organization of the army in the Armenian state.

Subsequently, in some regions of Armenia, due to the deliberate and targeted policy of the invaders, weapons began to be forced out of the national costume of the Armenians. At the same time, in many regions of Armenia that retained Armenian statehood, weapons remained as part of the everyday Armenian national costume.

At the moment, in the minds of many Armenians, there is still a “block” or prohibition imposed by the terror of the Ottoman authorities. Replicating their complexes, these people are educating the next generation of Armenians in a worldview distorted by the Ottomans, including in the regions in which the Ottomans and other conquerors failed.

The result of these trends may be the following paradoxical situation – the Armenians themselves, with their own hands, may dismantle the military component of the mentality of their people in all regions of Armenia.

The likely consequences of such a situation should be indicated. As mentioned above, the preservation of the mentality of “male warriors” particularly expressed in carrying weapons has ensured victory and the retaining of statehood.

Statehood, in turn, fueled and supported this military spirit, as evidenced by at least the example of Syunik and Artsakh during the liberation struggle in the 18th century.

Moreover, it was the Armenian highlanders who were the ideologists and leaders of the 19th-century liberation struggle. Many of those who arrived in Van, Mush, Sasun, and other areas of Armenia to help their compatriots in the heroic struggle against the invaders were highlanders from Artsakh, Syunik, and Lori.

During the Genocide, it was the highlanders who rendered worthy resistance to the Turkish state machine represented by the army and police. Already during the Battle of Sardarapat, it became clear that it was the people from the mountainous regions – where men had never parted with their weapons – who attacked the enemy and dragged the rest of the Armenians with them, becoming the backbone around which the military prowess of the Armenian people accumulated.

Thus, practice shows that the image of the nation expressed in the national costume is one of the components of national security. This is quite natural because how a person feels himself, who he considers himself to be to a large extent gives him prerequisites for appropriate actions.

It should be kept in mind that the worldview and collective consciousness of people are expressed in their national costume, but the costume also forms a worldview and a stereotype of behavior.

That is, it can be argued that changing the costume leads to a change in worldview and further changes in consciousness, which can be clearly seen in the example of part of the Armenians exposed to Turkish influence in this area.

Alexander Krylov, Doctor of Historical Sciences (IMEMO RAS)

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