How the Aslamazyan Sisters Brought Indira Gandhi to Armenia

How the Aslamazyan Sisters

The activity of Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan is unusual and multifaceted. They are known far beyond the borders of their native Gyumri. Among the admirers of the artists was Indira Gandhi herself, the daughter of the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.

The life of the Aslamazyan sisters was interesting and eventful. They were born in the village of Yerazgavors and received an initial art education in Alexandropol (now Gyumri). The local art studio played a large role in shaping the creativity of the sisters. Over the following years, they would generously thank their hometown, gifting it more than 600 works.

In 1927, at the age of 17 and 20 respectively, Mariam and Yeranuhi moved to Russia to receive higher education. They then married and settled in Russia. Yeranuhi had a daughter who inherited her mother’s talent and became a potter.

Mariam married for the first time at the age of 19 and the second time at 60. She never had children. Her friends say that she decided to devote herself completely to art.

Despite the fact that they were the daughters of a very rich man, Mariam and Yeranuhi adopted the Soviet ideology, but they used it for the benefit of their activity.

After joining the Communist party, they traveled to several countries and transferred the colors of these places to their canvases. These trips have become an excellent opportunity for the sisters to present the national image of Armenia to foreigners.

In fact, the Aslamazyan sisters were not only creative personalities but also public figures. Mariam especially succeeded in this matter.

Art critic Gohar Amoyan says that thanks to the two trips of Mariam to India, the country’s prime minister Indira Gandhi was able to visit Armenia in 1976.

The first trip to India brought so much emotion to Mariam that she painted a portrait of the Indian “iron lady”. However, the first meeting with Gandhi took place on the second visit of Mariam to India. She showed the prime minister her portrait, and they had a little chat.

That day, Mariam, as always, was wearing silver jewelry with Armenian motifs. The Indian prime minister liked the jewelry, especially Mariam’s silver belt.

With the assistance of Mariam, Indira Gandhi’s visit to Yerevan became possible. Moreover, the artist told the leadership of Soviet Armenia that the Indian politician had really liked her silver Armenian belt. Of course, Gandhi received it as a gift in Yerevan.

The Aslamazyan Sisters Gallery in Gyumri has been operating for 30 years, and the building under the gallery had been provided by the city authorities. The works of Yeranuhi Aslamazyan are exhibited on the ground floor of the two-story museum, while Mariam’s works are on the second floor. The main characters in many of Mariam’s works are women.

“The scenes of the sisters’ paintings are very diverse. There are even paintings made according to Chinese and Indian motifs, but for both, the main theme is national symbolism and the status of the woman,” Gohar Amoyan said.

The Aslamazyan sisters painted what the social system of that time demanded, but they could also allow themselves certain freedom of creativity to portray their own ideas.

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