Sopon Bezirdjian, Craft, Heritage and Identity in Victorian Manchester

Wharton, Alyson (2020) Sopon Bezirdjian, Craft, Heritage and Identity in Victorian Manchester. In: Craft and Heritage. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Sopon Bezirdjian, Craft, Heritage and Identity in Victorian Manchester

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Abstract

In the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century, craftsmen (sanaatkar) often hailed from the non-dominant populations of this Muslim-governed polity. Armenian Christians were particularly numerous amongst palace artisans, including stonemasons, carpenters and other fields that were needed for imperial building works. In the nineteenth century, these trades, which were self-taught, staffed through an apprentice structure and often passed down amongst families, were supplemented by individuals offering expertise in new building and decoration techniques that had come from a European education or technological expansions. Sopon Bezirdjian (1839-1915), an Armenian born in Constantinople, was one such character and his biography draws attention to key transformations in the nineteenth-century Ottoman cultural landscape. Yet, Bezirdjian is also interesting because of his migratory status. Having fled difficult conditions for Armenians in the 1880s, he resettled in Victorian Manchester and proceeded to refashion his creative output and professional status as a jobbing designer. His subsequent works, consisting of print advertisements, sketches for interior decoration schemes, as well as his magnum opus- a collection of designs for household items with (what he terms as) ‘Oriental’ designs- show his negotiation of complex heritages and identities (as an ethnic Armenian-Christian, an Ottoman subject in exile, and as an Victorian emigré) in his quest to earn a living and his wish to gain institutional enshrinement.

Keywords:Armenia, Ottoman, Craft, Victorian Manchester
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:39408
Deposited On:09 Jan 2020 10:04

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