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UCLA Fowler Museum

Janyak: Armenian Art of Knots and Loops

For centuries Armenian janyak (Ժանյակ) or needle lace has been a precious link for Armenians across the world.

April 23 2023 through April 7, 2024


A portable and enduring art form passed from mother to daughter, it has connected generations both in their homeland and in the diaspora, transmitting cultural heritage and values. Janyak may seem a relatively simple craft utilizing only a needle and thread to produce embellishments for furniture and clothing, but the precision and creativity required to execute and innovate motifs make it a vibrant form of artistry in its own right. The 14 janyak doilies on view at the Fowler were created by Marie Pilibossian (1898–1986), an Armenian genocide survivor who emigrated to America and gifted her collection to the Fowler Museum in 1980. Displaced Armenian women like Pilibossian carried this tactile tradition with them into exile and their new homes, knotting memories of survival and endurance into their lacework, bridging time and space, and demonstrating their political unity and resolve.

Janyak: Armenian Art of Knots and Loops is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and curated by Gassia Armenian, Fowler curatorial and research associate.

Image: Marie Pilibossian (b. 1898, Gesaria-Kaiseri, Turkey; d. 1986, Los Angeles, USA), Armenian needle lace, early to mid-20th century; thread and needle used as a knotting tool; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X80.1162; Gift of Marie Pilibossian

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