MEET THE Characters
My Characters are a blend of
a piece of my heart on the page
Areni (Ah-reh-nee) is a village in Armenia famous for its wine. It was formerly called Arpa.
Over the past decade, archeological excavations at Areni have uncovered not just the first-ever winery established 6100 years ago, but also the oldest known leather shoe and a human skull containing the most ancient fragment of brain tissue in existence.
Areni’s message to you: “Embrace your YOU-ness with a vengeance. You’re the only one who can.”
One of the most majestic locations I have experienced has been the Datev (Daw-tev, also spelled Tatev) Monastery in the Syunik province in Southeast Armenia. The longest cableway in the world transports you to the monastery. This cableway is called The Wings of Datev.
Datev’s message to you: “Your wings are stronger than you know. Believe in them and they will help you soar.”
Alin (ah-leen) has two meanings, “Bearer of Light” and “A Fertile, Healthy Woman”.
Alin’s costume was designed by the talented Vartan Aghajanyan, who runs the Armenian Dance Center in California.
Alin is a source of light and positivity for anyone who wants to release heaviness or darkness weighing them down. She is also a gift for someone who is that source of light and positivity for you.
Alin’s message to you: “The brightest light is in your heart. Trust it and let it guide you.”
Ani means beautiful, unique and exotic.
Between the years 961-1045, Ani was the capital city of Armenia. It was once a great metropolis best known as the city of 1001 churches. Ani (currently classified as part of Turkey’s Kars province) was conquered hundreds of times leaving it now in ruins. You can still go and visit the ancient church ruins and marvel at the beauty of what once was.
Ani is a reminder that we need to treasure and protect the beautiful hearts and relationships in our lives. We must never get complacent and never take precious moments shared for granted.
Ani’s message to you: “There is no better time than the present to reach out to someone who has been in your thoughts. They will be so happy to hear from you no matter how long it’s been.”
Anush means “sweet” in Armenian. The word is also used to describe someone’s kind personality or the sweetness of food and is interchangeably used as a word for dessert.
Anush is dressed in a traditional Armenian bridal costume with a gorgeous veil and flower crown. She is often paired in my artwork with her partner in crime, “Armen.”
Anush is a means to show your gratitude to anyone in your life who is sweet, kind and compassionate or can serve as a source of comfort for anyone who needs some kindness in their life right now. She is also a wonderful present for a bride-to-be!
Anush’s message to you: “Life is sweeter with you in it.”
Armen (awr-men) means someone who belongs to or is a member of the Armenian nation (or people). So basically it means “Armenian.”
He is often paired in my artwork with his partner in crime “Anush” who shares similar patterning in her dress. He is in a traditional groom’s costume with an ornate headband detail.
You can see the strength in Armen’s posture, the kindness in his eyes and the intelligence in his thoughtful demeanor, looking out into the distance and imagining a brighter future for his family and country.
Armen is for anyone who you’d like to relay your admiration to for being who they are.
Armen’s message to you: “Strength comes from knowing who you are and honoring your true self.”
Alique (Aw-leek) means “wave” in Armenian (such as the waves of the ocean).
Waves are said to symbolize our inner emotions and can either be calm or powerful. Alique is dressed in blue to reflect water and her silhouette forms a wave shape.
Alique represents anyone whose true happy place is the ocean or water. She is also a source of inspiration for anyone craving the feeling of peace and freedom to wash over them, ready to make amends with the past and be renewed and reborn. She is also a gift for someone who is a force of nature in your life and does it all with a smile!
Alique’s message to you: “If it’s out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind.”
Arev (Ah-rev) is the word for Sun in Armenian.
Arev holds a decorative vase. Most Armenian ceramic arts have been destroyed over the centuries by invasions, but a few still remain today and are treasured.
Arev is drawn as a young girl full of hope and optimism for her future. She is a reminder to live life looking at the bright side and see the cup as half full. She is for anyone who needs a little sunshine and positivity in their life or for anyone who IS the sunshine and positivity in your life.
Arev’s message to you: “Within you is the light and strength of a thousand suns.”
Arpi in Armenian translates to “the rising sun”, “sun” or “sunshine” depending on how it’s used in a sentence.
Arpi has her arms raised in dance. She has a cheerful, direct gaze that connects and shows her natural confidence and spontaneity.
Arpi is for anyone who is a joyful, bright individual, who can always see the light in tricky situations. She is a problem solver and everyone comes to her for advice. Arpis warm the room they’re in and bring delight to their friends.
arpi’s message to you: “There is only one you. Be you with a vengeance.”
Arax River is one of the largest rivers in the Caucasus, with one of its borders being Armenia. Araxie was the name of my Maternal Grandmother and in her honor, I changed my middle name to Araxie when I became a US citizen.
Araxie is for anyone who is the glue that keeps a family together or for those wanting a visual reminder of the wonderful women in their family that came before them.
Araxie’s message to you: “You are the result of the love of thousands.”
The name Araz is used interchangeably for one of the largest rivers in the Caucasus, Aras River, with one of its borders being Armenia.
The Arax River is referenced in the bible as River Gihon and was a major thoroughfare for traders, armies and holy men.
Arax was the name of my Maternal Grandmother and Araz is one of the most important people in my life.
Araz is for anyone who is a connector and genuinely cherishes relationships. She is for anyone who has a magnetic personality. People are drawn to her for her regal grace and kindness which should never be mistaken for weakness. If disrespected, the Queen in her will surely come out.
Araz’s message to you: “Honor your soul first.”
This was a very special commissioned piece of a beautiful American-Armenian young lady named Ashkhen (Awsh-khehn) who is named after one of the Queens of Armenia (287-330 AD).
Queen Ashkhen was the wife of King Tiridates III of Armenia, who was responsible for Armenia being the first nation to officially adopt Christianity. Ashkhen was a devout Christian and donated her jewels to fund the building of several churches.
Ashkhen for anyone who knows that money doesn’t buy happiness and instead dedicates their life to what they believe in, inspiring others with her generosity.
Ashkhen’s message to you: “It is in giving that we receive.”
“Hars U Pesa” translates to “Bride and Groom”. One of the most beautiful traditions of the Armenian wedding sacrament is when the priest crowns the couple as the king and queen of their new kingdom.
During the rite of crowning, the couple face each other, place their foreheads together, and join their right hands as a symbol of becoming one, while the best man holds a cross to their heads as prayers are being made to bless the new union.
Traditionally, the crowns (called narods) have three colors on them: green, signifying the life they are now starting together; white, signifying the purity of their hearts and souls as they approach the sacrament; and red, signifying the sacrifices each spouse is expected to make. I prefer to think of red as signifying the most important thing of all, LOVE.
These characters are for a couple embarking on a union of commitment. Their crowns signify their shared home and partnership in life.
This couple’s message is a traditional Armenian wedding blessing: “May you grow old together on one pillow.”
Nayiri is an authentic Armenian name that can be used for both boys and girls! Nayiri translates to ‘The Lands of Canyons.”
The Kingdom of Urartu was a civilization that developed in the Bronze and Iron Age of ancient Armenia, eastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran from the 9th century BCE. Urartu was called Nayiri in official documentation in 590 BC.
Nayiri conveys the strength, wisdom, and respect her ancient name reminds us of. She is a visual reminder for anyone going through a trying time, that they are more powerful and inspiring than they may know. Even though life has not been easy, they are resilient and able to weather any storm.
Nayiri’s message to you: “Know your power. Trust it and embrace it.”
HOURI (Hoo-ree). Houri means “flames” or “fire” in Armenian. Her hair reminded me of that.
Houri Peh-ri in Armenian is the word for “Fairy.” It illustrates a character of kindness, purity and underestimated strength.
Houri is for a strong, loving woman with a fiery personality. She inspires everyone around her with her passion and strength. She is a fighter against all odds. She knows who she is and if she puts her mind on a goal, nothing can stop her from achieving it.
Houri’s message to you: “Find the fire in your heart and let it’s warmth guide you.”
“Hrag” (huh-rawg) is a very popular Armenian boy’s name. The direct definition is “one with fiery eyes!”
Hrag is standing up straight with his arms out to embrace life, smiling cheekily. To represent the brightness of his personality, he wears red, a color in the Armenian flag.
Hrag is for someone with a passionate, fun outlook and a daring excitement for all life has to offer.
Hrag’s message to you: “You give life to what you give energy to.”
Harsig means ‘new bride’ in Armenian. I created the background pattern based on icons I saw in a 10th-century Armenian bible with the pomegranates representing fertility, eternity and abundance.
The costume in this drawing is a modern-ish twist on an Armenian traditional bridal gown I saw in the National History Museum of Armenia.
The multiple braids are so cool to me. I see them show up in Armenian traditional garment books.
Harsig’s message to you: “Embrace tradition, in your own unique way.”
Lucik (Loo-seek) means small light or flame in Armenian which could be a source of hope.
She is looking out of frame with a slight smile as though she can see something that is hidden.
Lucik is for anyone who can find the silver linings. They are optimistic, clever, have a unique view of every situation and know that all bad things are temporary.
Lucik’s message to you: “Every cloud has a silver lining. You just have to be patient for the storm to pass.”
Kohar means JEWEL in Armenian. It is also my aunt’s name (my mom’s sister) who’s one of the strongest women I know and has been a second mom to me. My daughter Sosse’s middle name is Kohar in honor of her.
Kohar is dressed in a deep red, a traditional Armenian textile color. Derived from the Cochineal beetle, this use of color in Armenia is so old it is referenced in the Old Testament.
This character is for someone with grace and wisdom. Someone who has a love of stories, who holds traditions very highly, and places very strong importance to family.
Kohar’s message to you: “Honor your family and never forget where you come from.”
Nareh (Nah-reh) is a diminutive of the Armenian name Narineh, which means either pomegranate or made of fire since pomegranates are the color of fire.
Nareh’s earrings are pomegranates. She has a calm, direct gaze and wears a crown-like headdress.
Nareh is for someone who has poise and confidence, pride in herself and pride in her heritage.
Nareh’s message to you: “My greatest strength is knowing who I am and where I come from.”
Nazeli (Naw-zeh-lee) is an all-encompassing word used to describe someone pretty, graceful, delicate and dainty in Armenian. Different versions of the name include Nazig and Nazani.
Armenian dancing is one of the oldest and most varied in the world! From as early as the 5th millennium B.C, there were rock paintings of scenes of country dancing. Armenian dances tell our ancestor’s stories and embody our history.
This character is for anyone free and expressive with movement.
Nazeli’s message to you: “The songs of centuries flow through you in dance.”
Lori is a province in Northern Armenia, bordering Georgia. Vanadzor is the capital and its largest city.
The pomegranate is the symbol of Armenia. Featured in artwork, song, and traditions, the pomegranate symbolizes fertility and good fortune in Armenian culture.
Lori is for someone with a light heart and a love of music and art.
Lori’s message to you: “Listen to your inner child. She knows exactly what you want.”
Baydsar (bye-dzahr) means “clear and bright.”
This drawing was created when I found out a very dear friend was battling cancer.
Baydsar is for someone who may be struggling and needs a little extra uplift. She embodies protection and the spirit of survival and endurance.
Baydsar’s message to you: “I give you the shield of faith, hope and healing.”
Sevan is the name of the biggest lake in Armenia, Lake Sevan, also the name of my youngest daughter.
Lake Sevan is considered one of the three great ‘seas’ of historic Armenia. Its shores are home to many monasteries, giving the lake a spiritual significance. It is widely considered the jewel of Armenia.
Sevan is for someone special and unique who dances to the beat of their drum and has a beautiful individuality like no other!
Sevan’s message to you: “No one can be more you than you.”
Shant means lightning in Armenian.
Shant is looking away, up over his shoulder. His posture is upright and calm.
Shant is for someone with an electric personality, like a storm in a bottle! They’re capable of great things but not loud about it. It’s also for anyone that needs a jolt of electricity to shake up their lives. If you’re feeling stagnant and are ready for new adventures, Shant is for you!
Shant’s message to you: “Go outside your comfort zone. That is where you will find what you’re capable of.”
The drawing is inspired by a very special lady who is a living legend in the Armenian dance community.
Seda has been performing and teaching for over 73 years all around the world. She was the Director of the Vannig Children’s Dance Group as well as the Vasburagan Armenian Dance Group of Washington. In the illustration, she is dressed in authentic Vasburagan garments.
Seda is for anyone who has lived out their passion to the fullest. She is also a source of strength to encourage anyone in your life that needs to break away from putting their passion on hold for the sake of others.
Seda’s message to you: “You have been given a gift. It is your duty and responsibility to share it with the world.”
Sosse (So-seh) is the name of an incredible Armenian woman Freedom Fighter (1868-1952) who fought in the battle lines alongside the men.
She was known among her community as Sosse Mayrig (Mother Sosse).
Sosse is for someone who has courage and strength in her convictions and even though she is gentle and kind, she is a bulldog when protecting her loved ones.
Sosse’s message to you: “Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”
The name Tamar comes from an Armenian folk story of the legend of Akhtamar Island.
An Armenian princess named Tamar lived on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van in Historic Armenia. She was in love with a commoner. This boy would swim from the mainland to the island each night, his way illuminated by a light she lit for him. One day her father found out about this and was very upset. He went to her as she held the light, waiting for her love.
He turned off the light which ultimately resulted in her lover’s death.
Tamar is for someone who has a big heart and is open and kind.
Tamar’s message to you: “The love in your heart will always illuminate your path.”
Yeraz (Yeh-rawz) means ‘dream’ in Armenian.
I was commissioned to draw an American-Armenian couple’s daughter, Yeraz . Being that she was still very young, they requested to have the drawing created in an older version, keeping her physical features (including her amazing hair) but highlighting her heritage in Armenian costuming. Her costume is an interpretation of one of the dresses her mother wore when she was a dancer. The colors of the background felt celestial to me, just like her name.
Yeraz is for someone who has far-reaching goals and ideals and is not afraid to act on them.
Yeraz’s message to you: “Having the dream is step one. Wake up. Time to turn it into a goal.”
Vartan Mamigonian is one of Armenian history’s greatest and most celebrated heroes.
Vartan was an Armenian military leader, a martyr and a saint of the Armenian Church. He led the Armenian army at the Battle of Avarayr in 451, which ultimately secured the Armenians’ right to practice Christianity
Vartan is for the warrior in all of us. He also represents the importance of a tribe and community.
Vartan’s message to you: “There is strength in numbers. All for one and one for all.”
Vartuhi (vawr-doo-hee) means “as beautiful as a rose.”
Vartuhi embraces the day! She is fresh, vibrant and sweet as her rose namesake and her beauty is more than skin deep.
Vartuhi is for the person who uplifts the room, who is magnetic in a quiet way. Spending time with this person always gives you a renewed sense of happiness and hope.
Vartuhi’s message to you: “Your beauty lies in the joy you bring to everyone around you.”
Which character are you?
Take this quick quiz to find out which character best aligns to your personality and values! She or he might just be what you need to see this year for inspiration and a quick pick-me-up!