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Armenian ceramics, Jerusalem Pottery and the Karakashian family

The history of Armenian ceramics in Jerusalem

Stepan Karakashian at work on the banding wheel

Stepan Karakashian

 

Hagop Karakashian at work glazing

Hagop Karakashian

 

Berge Karakashian at work with pottery

Berge Karakashian

 
       
 

Green doors on the Via Dolorosa

The Story of a family tradition since 1922

Two brothers, Stepan and Berge Karakashian, and son Hagop, produce their Armenian ceramics, Armenian pottery and tiles at 15 Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Their father, Megherdich Karakashian, and several other Armenian potters were brought to Jerusalem from Kutahia, Turkey, in 1919. They were appointed to repair the tiles covering the external walls of the Dome of the Rock.

These craftsmen were very glad to leave Turkey and escape the persecutions of the Armenians in different regions of that country. They settled in Jerusalem, practicing their traditional craft of making glazed pottery, richly colored and decorated with floral and animal designs.

 

Street name signs made by the KarakashiansToday, Stepan and Berge, and son Hagop, continue the family craft, making artistic tile and pottery. The street name tiles throughout the Old City are supplied by these brothers. Their designs still include the traditional motifs taken from ancient mosaics and manuscripts. In addition they have developed beautiful contemporary tiles representing Biblical stories and the colorful Old City.

 

 

 

Books on Jerusalem Pottery's Karakashian family

2 books written on the Karakashian family history and contribution to the
establishing of Armenian ceramic art in Jerusalem.

  • Book in English - The Armenian Ceramics of Jerusalem, Three generations, 1919-2003
  • Book in Hebrew - The Armenian Ceramics of Jerusalem, Three generations, 1919-2000

Some of their most popular designs are based on the Tree of Life mosaic in the Hisham Palace in Jericho; the sixth century Madaba Map mosaic showing the streets of Jerusalem; the phoenix bird, peacocks, fish and intricate multicolored floral designs.

Tree of life tile
The Tree of Life

Their shop is a sunny space in the Old City filled with unique plates, bowls, candlesticks, mugs and tiles in many shapes and sizes. It is the perfect place to find a gift or a memento to remember Jerusalem.

The clays used by the Karakashian brothers are brought from Hebron and the Negev desert and are mixed in a specific proportion. This mixture is especially strong and free from glazing and firing defects. All the decoration is done by hand.

Today, the pieces are fired in electric kilns which give better results than the earlier wood and oil fired kilns. The colors are still mixed according to the same recipes that their father used fifty years ago. The colors are obtained from metallic oxides; the rich dark blue, which is greatly admired, is made from cobalt oxide. The light blue, green and brown colors are made from copper, chromium and iron oxides.

The Karakashians take great pride in their work and in maintaining their standard of craftsmanship. They look to the future with the hope that Karakashians will continue for generations to come to supply Jerusalemites and those who visit here with their unique style of Jerusalem Pottery.

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