Armenians - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Less than one-third of the land of historic Armenia was arable, and cereals were the staple crop. Although the crops were the responsibility of the men, the women often helped during the harvest if extra hands were needed.

Clothing. For nearly 200 years European styles of dress have been popular in Armenian towns and cities. Until the Soviet period, however, traditional dress could be found in many villages. For both men and women traditional garb consisted of baggy trousers covered by long shifts and overcoats. Men in particular might wear sheepskin hats and elaborate metalwork belts made in the style of their particular region. It was popular for women to wear their hair in long braids until marriage and to wear gold and silver jewelry (especially coins), which represented the family's wealth and investments. Most clothing was made of wool, although cottons and silks were used when they were available. Many features of traditional Armenian dress are common to other peoples of the Caucasus.

Food. The Armenian diet was somewhat monotonous, consisting largely of grains and cereals. Bulgur, pilaf, porridge, and flat bread were staple items. Dairy products were also commonly eaten, such as yogurt, milk, butter, and cheese. A popular Armenian drink to this day is tan, a mixture of water and soured yogurt. Fruits such as apricots and figs were dried for consumption in the winter and were often eaten with nuts. Other fruits, such as berries, were canned, and vegetables were pickled. Grapes were very commonly grown in Eastern Armenia, where there is a long history of wine production. Meat was eaten rarely, usually only when an animal could not be sustained through the long winter. Livestock were kept primarily for dairy products, and in winter they shared living quarters with the family.

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