The Nuri doll represents the latter two of these categories and is seen as a salvation for villagers to provide rain for parched fields and gardens. It is believed that when people and animals suffer from lack of water, Nuri cries and her tears soak the ground and the fields come to life. Early on Palm Sunday morning, groups of girls danced and sang with their Nuri dolls, going from house to house. People sprayed water on the dolls through windows and doors and gave them eggs, bread or cheese for the children to celebrate. If by chance it rained, the children were happy that Nouri heard their prayers and gave them rain.
Another beautiful ritual doll is celebrated on Ascension Day. On the previous Wednesday, the girls would go into the mountains and valleys and collect seven handfuls of water from seven springs, seven petals from seven flowers, and seven stones from seven running waters. They put these items in a special flowerpot with the Vichaki Arus doll on top. They were left outside overnight and brought to the place of divination the next morning. During the Ascension ceremony, the girls looked forward to their fortunes and distributed wreaths of flowers they collected.
For generations, girls have loved dressing dolls in beautiful clothes. Many family photos taken at the time show girls holding their precious dolls who also dressed up for the occasion. Dolls can pose as models to preserve history when dressed in traditional Armenian costumes.
The Armenian Museum of America in Watertown preserves and holds special dolls, including this collection which was donated by the Socie Kradjian family. His mother, Lucine Szentendrey, created 47 handmade regional dolls by reproducing the “Map of Armenian national costumes, 19th – 1st quarter of the 20th century” compiled by Arakel Patrik.
Doll expert and textile curator at the Armenian Museum of America, Susan Lind-Sinanian, plays an important role in preserving Armenian culture through dolls. She created intricate costumes, including a bride from Akhalzikha and a Cher doll modeling a traditional Armenian dress from Zankezur.
Like many of the most beautiful values of our culture, Armenian ritual dolls are on the verge of being forgotten. Because many rituals are no longer alive, many events that accompany them are also forgotten: songs, dances, food. If the ritual is not performed, the dolls are not created. We must save their existence in the form of knowledge and honor customs such as World Doll Day that remind us of the rich and varied ways of educating and preserving our culture.