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The Gardens of Silihadar. Book Presentation by Jennifer Manoukian on Tuesday, May 6

2014-04 SilihdarThe Zohrab Center will host a book presentation by Jennifer Manoukian, whose new, English translation of the autobiography of Zabel Yessayan entitled, The Gardens of Silihdar, has just been published. The event is being co-sponsored by the Armenian Network of America Greater New York Region.

The presentation will take place on Tuesday, May 6 at 2014 at 7PM at the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York.

Author, educator and social activist Zabel Yessayan (1878-1943) is today recognized as one of the greatest writers in Western Armenian literature. Her poignant 1935 autobiography displays the fierce determination of an Ottoman era Armenian intellectual who refused to accept the restrictions placed on women in Ottoman Turkey, and affords a vivid account of Armenian community life in Constantinople at the end of the nineteenth century.

Jennifer Manoukian, an authority on the writings of Zabel Yessayan, will present her newly-published English translation of Yessayan's autobiography at the ZIC

Jennifer Manoukian, an authority on the writings of Zabel Yessayan, will present her newly-published English translation of Yessayan’s autobiography at the ZIC

Jennifer Manoukian, is a graduate of Rutger’s University and a former Zohrab Center intern. She is an accomplished translator and an authority on the writings of Yessayan. She recently published a translation of an essay by the 19th-century novelist Srpouhi Dussap (née Vahanian) entitled, Women’s Inactivitywhich addresses social struggles particular to Armenian women.

At her Zohrab presentation Manoukian will present The Gardens of Silihdar, and introduce the life and work of Zabel Yessayan, a bold, one-of-a-kind figure in Western Armenian literature. The presentation is free and open to the public. A wine and cheese reception will follow, during which attendees may purchase the book.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer. #ZICZabel

In her long and eventful life, Zabel Yessayan never strayed from her beliefs, despite often facing both governmental and social pressures. Read more…

Students from St. Peter’s University Visit ZIC

Theology students from St. Peter's University, Jersey City, NJ with Prof. Susan Graham, Associate Professor of Theology on "pilgrimage" at the Zohrab Center.

Theology students from St. Peter’s University, Jersey City, NJ with Prof. Susan Graham, Associate Professor of Theology on “pilgrimage” at the Zohrab Center.

Six students from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ visited the Zohrab Center yesterday as part of the requirements for a theology course.

The students were accompanied by their teacher, Dr. Susan Graham, Associate Professor of Theology at St. Peter’s. Dr. Graham’s course, entitled Pilgrimage in the City, explores the phenomenon of pilgrimage—travel undertaken to a meaningful destination for religious or sacred purposes—in Christian history, theology and spirituality. The students’ visit to the Zohrab Center and St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral qualified as a pilgrimage destination in its own right, but also afforded the “pilgrims” the opportunity to deepen their appreciation for the unique role of pilgrimage in the history and spirituality of the Armenian Church.

ZIC Director Fr. Daniel Findikyan gave a brief survey of the centrality of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a cherished destination for Armenian pilgrims since at least the fourth century. He also spoke about the revival of pilgrimage, especially among young people, to sacred shrines within the Republic of Armenia today.


Check Out an Edifying Blog on Armenian Civilization

Followers of will enjoy exploring PeopleOfAr, a very informative blog that is also produced in the WordPress platform. ZIC highly recommends it!

Treasures from ZIC: Zvartnots Literary and Art Review

photo 1The Zohrab Center recently received a dozen early issues of the Armenian periodical Zvartnots. The journal of literature and art was published intermittently in Paris from 1929 to 1964. The precious issues were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Sylvia of Boyajian of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

The Zohrab Center is the only library in the United States to hold these issues.

Zvartnots contains original poems, short stories, essays, literary criticism and articles on aspects of Armenian arts and music by Armenian authors. As well, the reader will discover Armenian translations of noted non-Armenian authors of the day. Among the contributors were some of the giants of twentieth century Armenian literature and art including Vahan Tekeyan, Arshag Chobanyan, Hagop Oshagan, Yeghishe Charents, Shahan Shanhur, Shavarsh Nartuni, Nvart Kalpakian, Nigoghos Sarafian, Gurgen Mahari,and a host of mysterious pen-names.

Alongside marvelous poems and short literary pieces, the inaugural issue features an Armenian translation of an essay by the Austrian philosopher and novelist Stefan Zweig; an article on pre-Christian Armenian architecture by the great historian of architecture Toros Toromanian; and  a tribute to Franz Schubert on the hundredth anniversary of his death by a very young Ara Bartevian, who would later become a well-known musician, composer and choral conductor.

Indeed, in the preface to the first issue of Zvartnots, the editor, Hrant Paluian, stresses that the new journal would be “the refuge for those young people who have been held captive to the aged caretakers of our literature.” True to the secularism of the moment, he  continues sardonically:

The residents of Zvartnots, with angelic innocence, have been purified of political passions, partisan enmities and ridiculous heresies. They have been purged of religious and moral prejudices. They believe only in Armenian literature and art.

The word Zvartnots derives from the Armenian zvartunk, literally, “vigilant ones,” the angels who serve God joyfully and tirelessly, and who serve as models of the Christian life. The name was given to the famous seventh-century round church in Etchmiadzin, the ruins of which can be seen today.

The Zohrab Center’s new issues of this marvelous testament to Armenian intellectual vitality between the World Wars in Europe have been added to the ZIC online catalogue. Anyone interested in perusing them is welcome to visit the Center or to contact the staff for questions and further assistance.



“How Armenians Pray” Lecture by Fr. Daniel Findikyan at General Theological Seminary, New York

Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Information Center and Professor of Liturgical Studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary (New Rochelle, NY) will present a lecture entitled: How Armenians Pray: Glimpses into the Heart of an Ancient Christian Spirituality in the Seabury Auditorium of General Theological Seminary in New York on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 7PM.

In his lecture, which is co-sponsored by St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, Fr. Findikyan will speak about the spirit, ethos and peculiarities of Armenian liturgical and devotional prayer, and he will consider what insights Armenian Christianity might hold for all who seek meaningful faith today.

General Theological Seminary is located at 440 W. 21st Street (between 9th and 10th Ave.). The public is invited. A wine and cheese reception will follow. For further information contact St. Nersess at (914) 636-2003, email, or see the Seminary’s website.



What Is Dutch Art Doing in Early Armenian Printed Books? Dr. Sylvie Merian to Present the Case at ZIC on April 9

"Tree of Life" Dutch woodcut print dated 1646 by Christoffel van Sichem. Note the monogram "CvS" in the lower left corner.

“Tree of Life” Dutch woodcut print dated 1646 by Christoffel van Sichem. Note the monogram “CvS” in the lower left corner.

Noted art historian Dr. Sylvie Merian of The Morgan Library in New York will speak at the Zohrab Center on Wednesday, April 9 at 7PM on the topic, Dutch Woodcut Art in the Earliest Armenian Printed Books: A Book Detective Unravels the Mysteries.

Dr. Merian has been researching early Armenian books printed in Constantinople in the Zohrab Information Center’s rich rare book collection, especially focusing on woodcut illustrations in religious books produced by Armenian artists. (Click here for a recent exposé of her research on this blog).

Many of the compositions for these illustrations were modeled after western European prints that found their way to Ottoman Turkey and Savafid Iran during the 17-18th centuries in richly-illustrated books printed in Armenian, Latin, and other European languages.


#ZICbookdetective #ZohrabCenter

"Tree of Life" as found in an Armenian Sharagnots-Hymnal published in Constantinople in 1742. Note the monogram ԳՄ of the Armenian artists in the lower right corner.

“Tree of Life” adapted from the original Dutch version, found in an Armenian Sharagnots-Hymnal published in Constantinople in 1742. Note the ԳՐ in the lower left corner, the monogram of the Armenian artist and printer Grigor Marzuanetsi. The Armenian Hymnal is from the Zohrab Center’s Rare Book Collect

Through countless hours of what she calls “book-looking,” Merian has identified many of the exact prints used by Armenian artists as models. Many of these were Dutch woodcuts.

The illustrations provided inspiration not only for Armenian woodcut artists, but also for Armenian silversmiths (who used them as imagery for silver plaques used on religious books), manuscript artists, and even painters of wall paintings in churches of New Julfa, an Armenian suburb of Isfahan, Iran. New Christian iconography and decorative motifs were thereby disseminated in various media throughout the region, and a number of examples have been found in the Zohrab Center’s remarkable early book collection.

Dr. Merian will show numerous examples from the orginal European illustrations, the adapted versions by Armenian artists, and their later adoption for use in non-book media.

The presentation will take place at the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY. A discussion and reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at or (212) 686-0710.


#ZICbookdetective #ZohrabCenter

Socially Relevant Film Festival NY: The Armenian Collection March 14-20

2014-02 SRFilmsFour recent films concerning Armenia, Armenians, and contemporary issues concerning them will be part of the Socially Relevant Film Festival at the Quad Cinema in New York from March 14-20, 2014. To see the entire slate of movies, dates and times, and to purchase tickets, visit or call the QUAD Cinema (212) 255-2243.

The four Armenian films are:

  • If Only Everyone. A young woman’s search for her soldier father’s grave sets off events that lead to forgiveness—of oneself and of “the other.”
  • Orphans of the Genocide. An emotional visual journey through never before seen archival footage and discovered memoirs of orphans.
  • Hamshen at the Crossroads of Past and Present. Dedicated to the current state of the descendants of the Islamicized Armenians of Hamshen.
  • Bavakan. The horror of gender selection and abortion in contemporary Armenia.

CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

Read more…


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