One of the treasures of the Zohrab Center is its rich collection of historical photographs, some of them from 19th century Armenian communities in western Armenia and the Middle East, many of them documenting the early history of the Armenian community in the United States.
The collection, numbering hundreds of photographs, has grown gradually thanks to the donations of American Armenians going back to the establishment of the Diocese of the Armenian Church over a century ago.
One person working with the ZIC collection is Dr. Joseph Malikian, an expert in 19th and early 20th century Armenian photography and photographers, who has his own vast and precious personal collection of historical photographs, and who published the recent album, The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: An Anthology and a Photo History (Antelias, Lebanon, 2011). (Read about a recent exhibit from his personal collection of Ottoman-era photographs).
Dr. Malikian recently brought to our attention one of the rare photographs that contains identifying information.
The print, measuring approximately 5 x 7 inches, depicts 8 well-dressed young men standing behind two distinguished gentlemen and an Armenian clergyman, all seated. On the reverse we read the following caption:
Ագ-Շէհիրի դպրոցի բարձրագոյն կարգի աշակերտները իրենց տնօրէնը Լեւոն Աղապապեան, Գարեգին Սրբազանը՝ ներկայիս Պօլսոյ պատրիարք Խաչատուրեանը, Արմենակ Օրմանեան։ 1913-1955.
The students of the senior class of the Ak-Shehir school [with] their principal, Levon Aghababian, Bishop Karekin Khachadourian—currently the Patriarch of Constantinople, [and] Armenak Ormanian. 1913-1955.
The fascinating photo and caption provide a glimpse into a long-forgotten page in the story of the Armenian people. Ak-Shehir is a city in west-central Turkey that had a small, but vibrant Armenian community far from the larger pre-Genocide Armenian centers hundreds of miles farther east.
Patriarch Karekin Khachadourian, a native of Trabizon, served as Patriarch of Constantinople from 1951-1961. The years “1913-1955″ that conclude the caption probably indicate the date of the photograph (1913) and the date that the caption was written (1955).
But who is Levon Aghababian, the principal? And who is Armenak Ormanian? Is the latter a relative of Maghakia Ormanian, the great intellectual and prolific scholar who converted from the Armenian Catholic Church eventually to become Patriarch of Constantinople in 1896?
If you can provide any additional information about these individuals, the photograph, or the Armenian community of Ak-Shehir, please post a note on this blog.
In April 2015, on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, under the auspices of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church will take the momentous step to officially recognize as saints of the church the countless souls who perished during the Genocide in witness of their Christian faith.
The Rev. Dr. Maxwell E. Johnson, Professor of Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN) will present a lecture entitled, The Blood of the Martyrs: Seed of the Church Yesterday and Today on Thursday, October 9 at 7:00PM.
Surveying traditional interpretations of Christian martyrdom, Professor Johnson will address the relevance of the canonization of the Armenian Martyrs of 1915 for the Armenian Church and people today.
The illustrated lecture is free and open to the public. It will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY.
The Rev. Dr. Maxwell E. Johnson is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a leading scholar of early Christian liturgy and worship. He has written extensively on topics related to Baptism, Eucharist, the Liturgical Year, Mary, the Saints, and Ecumenism. He has lectured at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary on Armenian Baptismal Rites and Spirituality.
Professor Johnson’s most recent book, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity: The Interplay between Christian Worship and Doctrine, is concerned with how the worship of the church shapes and is shaped by doctrine. Copies will be available for purchase at the lecture. Guests will have the opportunity to greet Prof. Johnson during a wine and cheese reception that will follow his presentation.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
The distinguished expert in Armenian Art and Architecture, Professor Christina Maranci, will present an illustrated lecture at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, September 25 at 7PM entitled, The Great Outdoors: Liturgical Encounters with the Early Armenian Church.
Dr. Maranci is the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara T. Ozetemel Associate Professor of Armenian Art at Tufts University.
She will present the results of recent research on the exterior structure and decoration of certain medieval Armenian churches. Maranci believes that the intricate carved images and the epigraphic writings that adorn the exterior walls of many Armenian Churches were not produced simply to beautify the buildings. Instead, she suggests that the Armenian architects and artisans were guided by liturgical services that took place outside the church. Maranci supports her view with Armenian hymns and rituals found in medieval Armenian liturgical books.
This coordinated study of architecture and liturgy provides a potential material setting for liturgical texts, suggests new interpretations of the relief sculpture, and offers insight into the medieval experience of the Armenian Church.
Prof. Maranci received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in the Department of Art and Archaeology in 1998. She has lectured and published widely, particularly in the area of Armenian architecture. Her books include Medieval Armenian Architecture: Constructions of Race and Nation (Peeters, 2001), and Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia (Brepols, forthcoming). Her articles have appeared in the Revue des études arméniennes, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Gesta, the Journal for the Society of Architectural Historians, the Art Bulletin, the Oxford Companion to Architecture, and the Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages.
Her recent work on the Cathedral of Mren (Kars region, Eastern Turkey) led to the successful application for its inclusion in the World Monuments Fund Watch List for 2014-17. She is campaigning to increase awareness of the fragile condition of this significant monument and others in the Kars/Ani region.
The lecture will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York. It is free and open to the public. A reception and refreshments will follow.
For more information contact the Zohrab Center at email@example.com or (212) 686-0710. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter #LiturgicalEncounters.
The Zohrab Information Center announces a wide-ranging and captivating schedule of educational programs for the Autumn season. Armenian and non-Armenian scholars and artists will present programs on Armenian architecture and liturgy, literature, film, poetry and the anticipated canonization of the martyrs of the Genocide by the Armenian Church.
The first program on Wednesday evening, September 10, will be the screening of the film Garod (Yearning) by the award-winning Armenian filmmaker Frunze Dovlatyan. The movie will be presented in Armenian with English subtitles and will be introduced by writer, translator and filmmaker Christopher Atamian, who will also lead a discussion following the movie.
All ZIC events take place at the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York, and are open to the public. Most presentations will be video-recorded and posted on this website within a day or two of the date of presentation.
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The Zohrab Information Center launches its Autumn educational series on September 10 with a night at the movies. Featured will be the 1990 film Garod (Yearning) by the legendary Armenian director Frunze Dovlatyan.The film is a brave look at issues such as nationalism, patriotism and the effects of the 1915 Genocide on a village of Armenians on the Turkish-Armenian border.
The film is in Armenian with English subtitles.
The film will be introduced by leading writer, translator, journalist and filmmaker Christopher Atamian, who will also lead an open discussion about the film following its screening.
Frunze Dovlatyan is best known for his 1966 film Barev Yess Em, which was selected as the Soviet Union’s official submission to the Cannes Film Festival that year. Born in Gavar, Armenia, Dovlatyan was one of Armenia’s best-known directors. He studied at the Sundukyan Theater in Yerevan and headed Armenfilm Studio in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
The 1990 film Garod reveals what happens when the yearning or nostalgia to return to one’s childhood village becomes irresistible. This exciting, informative and sometimes sad film also presents a fascinating look at the dark side of Soviet Armenia.
Chrisopher Atamian has written, lectured and taught extensively on film at NYU, UConn Storrs, BAM and the Huffington Post, where he writes a blog on culture, the arts and current events. He is an alumnus of Harvard University, Columbia Business School and USC Film School. Among his many creative projects, he has begun a book of critical essays on Armenian film entitled Nationalism, Identity and Sexuality Film or: The Nostalgic Impulse.
Atamian has spoken at the Zohrab Center and visits the ZIC frequently in the course of his creative work.
The event will take place in Guild Hall of the Diocese of the Armenian Church, 630 Second Avenue, New York at 7PM on Wednesday, September 10. The film and discussion are open to the public. Donation is $5. Students with ID will be admitted free. Refreshments will be provided during and after the movie.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. #GarodYearning
The Armenian community in the United States of America has existed for more than a century. The Torch Was Passed: The Centennial History of the Armenian Church of America, a work edited by Christopher Hagop Zakian in celebration of the centennial history of the Armenian Church of America in 1998, tells the history of the Armenians in the land of freedom and opportunity, from humble and often distressing beginnings in 1898 to a hopeful and bright one hundred years later.
Zakian embarks on a detailed journey that has its roots in the little community of Armenians in Worcester, Massachusetts, who banded together to form the first Armenian Church of America, the Church of Our Savior. From this small and improbable starting point, Mr. Zakian tells of the spread of the faith of the Armenians across the country. For the Armenian community at this time, no one imagined a permanent diocese taking shape in the United States; as far as they were concerned, America was a pit stop for refugees before returning to the motherland again one day.
Trials and Tribulations
The developments of the coming century would change all of that. As Mr. Zakian writes, changing circumstances at home and abroad would forever change the destiny of the Armenians in America and shape their future. With Bishop Hovsep Sarajian chosen by the Armenian flock to serve as the first primate in the United States, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America was established in 1898. For the next 50 years, the young and fledgling diocese underwent numerous periods of trial, tribulation, and transformation on the path of coming to resemble, more or less, the Diocese that we have today. Notable events included coping with the emotional trauma of the Armenian Genocide, caring for countless refugees from Soviet Armenia, and fracturing from within, culminating in the assassination of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian.
Consolidation and Growth
Following years of relative peace and stability under Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America began to expand and prosper, forming organizations recognizable today, such as the ACYOA, the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and the construction of the St. Vartan Cathedral and diocesan headquarters in New York City. Indeed, with the ardent confidence and support exhibited by the newly-elected pontiff of the Armenian Apostolic Church in His Holiness Vasken I, the Armenian Church in America continued to increase in number of parishes, laypeople, and clergymen. Especially under the long primacy of Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America reached its peak of influence for the Armenian-American community. Mr. Zakian concludes his chronicle with a review of the diocese and its various activities and organizations under the tenure of the current primate, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and he looks to the future of the Armenian Church in America.
Mr. Zakian’s work contains helpful appendices provided by contributing authors that supplement his narrative of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. The first two deal with the formation and history of the Western and Canadian Dioceses, respectively. The third appendix discusses the unique schism within the Armenian Church in America and its slow, painful progress towards reconciliation and hoped-for unity. The book is rounded out by a general chronology of the Armenian Church of America and a list of parishes of the Eastern Diocese. While it is clear that Mr. Zakian went to painstaking lengths to obtain and compile informative lists and histories of the various Armenian churches in America, he also narrates the story of the Armenians in the United States compellingly. Surely, this book not only serves as a history of our people, but reminds us of just how strong and tenacious the Armenian community is.
ALEXANDER CALIKYAN is a senior at the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) majoring in philosophy. He has been an intern at the Zohrab Center last summer and this summer.
Did you miss last week’s marvelous presentation at the Zohrab Center by Dr. Roberta Ervine? She read between the lines of the writings of the 12th-century Armenian monk Mkhitar Gosh and uncovered surprising insights for all who wonder whether Armenians have a future in our complex, multicultural world.
Enjoy the video.