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Handmade ceramic pomegranate as a gorgeous wedding gift with centuries-old tradition: renowned Armenian artist based in Croatia is introducing a new line

Pomegranate has a long journey as a symbol of fertility, abundance and love. It appeared in Jewish manuscripts and Greek mythology, Medieval painting and Indian ornaments, Shakespeare’s poetry and Picasso’s still life. Tracing its history back to the ancient Mediterranean and Persian civilizations, pomegranate did hardly influence any culture as deeply as Armenian, becoming an essential element of wedding rituals and decorative art.

It was the genius Armenian film director Sergei Parajanov who re-introduced the old symbol to contemporary art with his “The Color of Pomegranates” film launched in 1969. Since then the pomegranate became Parajanov’s creative mascot and a sign of deepest devotion to his motherland. The impressive red ceramic pomegranate, made by Ruben Stepanyan in mid 1990s for Sergei Parajanov’s Museum, marked the beginning of a new era for the local ceramists – plenty of artists started following Stepanyan’s steps. Now the next generation of Stepanyan-Gishyan family evolves the initial approach, bringing the Armenian ceramic pomegranates far beyond the national border – yet never forgetting the meaning and great idea behind it.

In Western Armenia there is an old wedding ritual: a bride would throw a pomegranate and break it into pieces. Its appearing seeds ensured that she will bear a child. This lovely tradition inspired me a lot!” – says Alina Gishyan, whose namesake ceramics brand recently got huge success at Art Zagreb. Known for the strong combination of decorative and functional aspects of her art projects, Alina is trying to breathe new life into an ancient practice: the ceramic wedding pomegranates reveal their shining seeds without cracking, and will keep the dearest memories for years. Pomegranate is not just an attractive wild form or a way of tracing cultural Armenian evolution for Gishyan Ceramics. It was pomegranate – and love – that helped Alina start her global career on new grounds. Being married to a Croatian, Alina made the country her second home, and soon the signature glazed pomegranates transformed into fresh and bright Adriatic coastline colors – turquoise, blue and white – which seemed more appropriate for the artist in her new surroundings.

The expanding of color palette – from intensive ruby red or lava red to calm and deep colors – came together with a growing interest in abstract and minimalist ceramics, being the new directions Alina is leading her brand to. Thus appeared a collection of white pomegranates with a splash of scarlet or gold – pure and strong, just as a bride’s dress. The process of creation takes from 5 to 8 stages and lasts up to 10 days. The prototype form is made on a pottery wheel, then it takes some time for the earthenware clay to get harder. Thereafter Alina starts working with her hands, giving each fruit its unique shape, making the sides and the crown, carving the seeds and the cracks. The work may last for hours, yet it’s the only process that doesn’t make the artist feel tired. “I can start making pomegranates in the morning and let them dry the very next morning. It’s such a great energy! I can do tons of it” – Alina says. The pomegranates can be as tiny as the smallest fruit – about 10 cm – or reach the height of 40 cm. Since all the colors are obtained with powder glaze through the extremely precise chemical and creative process, the introduction of a new color upon request will take more time – the artist will have to do lots of glaze testing. However the result is worth the effort, since the glaze deepens the color and adds a particular 3D effect to it. The painted pomegranates will get 1 or 2 firings. Some parts of the fruit can be done in 10% gold, which adds one extra firing and makes the gift even more precious. Each pomegranate is unique, yet there is also a personalization option. Bride and groom can get their initials, or date, or a small wish carved on the bottom side of the fruit. Moreover, the wedding gift can become the first piece of art in a beautiful future collection, as Alina also makes jewelry boxes and plates with pomegranates.

Gishyan Ceramic’s pomegranates are available online, but the experience of visiting the atelier, touching the items and enjoying the colors is the pleasure one should not miss. Special orders should be done at least in 14 days. Prices go from 25 to 2500 euros, depending on the size and materials.

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