The Art of Armenian Ceramicist David Ohannessian in Jerusalem
To learn about the Armenian presence in Jerusalem all you have to do is wander around the city. Ceramicist David Ohannessian has carried the ceramic art of Armenians of Kütahya to Jerusalem, and since then his works have become the inseparable part of the city.
In the early twentieth century, David Ohannessian (1884-1953) revived the sixteenth-century Armenian techniques of painted tiles, and restored and created monumental works throughout the Middle East and in Europe.
In 1916, during the Armenian Genocide, Ohannessian was arrested, sentenced to death, and deported into the Syrian desert of Deir Zor. He and his young family nearly succumbed to typhus and starvation, but emerged from the desert and entered into the community of refugees in Aleppo.
In late 1918, British diplomat Mark Sykes encountered Ohannessian there and connected the artist with the new Military Governor of Jerusalem, Ronald Storrs, who was seeking a ceramist to restore the tiles of the Dome of the Rock.
In early 1919, Ohannessian traveled to Palestine, where he re-established his art, adapting it to the local materials. His work left a permanent aesthetic imprint on the city of Jerusalem.