Let your 2024 New’s Year resolution be to learn classical Armenian (Krapar)!
Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen is offering a 12-week course (Jan. 8 – Mar 29) that will introduce participants to ancient or “classical” Armenian, the literary form of the language from the fifth to the nineteenth century and the liturgical language of the Armenian Orthodox Church today. An Indo-European language, Armenian is distantly related to Greek, Latin, English, and other western languages. It has a vast library of literature comprised of original compositions by literary and theological masters such as St. Gregory of Narek and St. Nersess Shnorhali, as well as important translations from Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Arabic, among other languages, some of which survive only in Armenian translation.
All sessions will take place by Zoom and no prior experience or knowledge is required. Students will learn the Armenian alphabet, basic grammar, and vocabulary, and will read simple prose narratives, while also gaining an appreciation for the culture and tradition of one of the ancient Christian peoples of the East. The course will be of interest to the faithful of the Armenian Church, as well as anyone with an interest in classics, medieval/byzantine/near eastern studies, biblical studies, theology, and liturgy, and will cover the equivalent of a one-semester university class for only $500. Minimum of 5 students required in order to run the course. A continuation class will be offered based on student demand. Email email@example.com to express interest and for scheduling.
The international conference “Plenitude of Grace, Plenitude of Humanity: St Nerses Shnorhali at the Juncture of Millennia” took place Thursday and Friday (Nov 30–Dec 1) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. The recordings of all sessions from both days are available to view online through the YouTube Channel of the Pontifical Oriental Institute or below.A conference flyer and schedule are also available to view below.
The international conference “Plenitude of Grace, Plenitude of Humanity: St Nerses Shnorhali at the Juncture of Millennia” is taking place this Thursday and Friday (Nov 30–Dec 1) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. Among the invited speakers are Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, former Diocesan primate Bp. Daniel Findikyan, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Emeritus Professor Dr. Abraham Terian and current St. Nersess Seminary Professor Dr. Roberta R. Ervine, along with an impressive lineup of scholars and clergymen.
The conference was organized in conjunction with a series of events that were to take place in Rome and the Vatican, including concerts and an ecumenical prayer service, to honor the 850th year since the death of St. Nerses Shnorhali. Unfortunately, all events apart from the conference have been indefinitely postponed.
A conference flyer and schedule are available to view below:
A group of special collections comprised of hundreds of photographs, letters, scrapbooks, and other artifacts has recently been processed and is now available for the interested public to view at the Zohrab Information Center. The collections were processed by Linda Smith, a graduate student at Simmons University, pursing a degree in Archives Management, who is concurrently an archival intern at the Zohrab Center.
The collection includes over 125 years of materials that were donated over the years by various individuals.
The first series contains several small portrait photographs and photographic glass plates from Armenian photographers based in Constantinople/Istanbul in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These photographs and plates show various leaders, religious figures, and people at work or with their families, as well as various sites in Armenia and the former Ottoman Empire.
The second series consists of photographs and other personal artifacts from Zaven Melik-Shah Nazaroff, whose brother was Soss E. Melik. Both brothers were artists, but Soss’s renown far surpassed Zaven’s. Both brothers, their parents Efrem Melik Shah-Nazaroff and Maria Avanesov, and friends and family members are featured in photographs, and artwork from both brothers is photographed as well.
The next series is by far the largest and consists primarily of materials donated either by former diocesan employees or people active in the diocese. The contents document people and events related to the diocese, or were donated by people who thought the materials would be of interest to the diocese and those connected to it. The materials include photographs, photo albums, clippings, letters, postcards, certificates, and other documents.
The fourth series is the Ashjian family donation. Zovig Ashjian donated these photographs, which are primarily of her father, Fr. Arten Ashjian (1919–2016), who played an influential and leading role in the diocese throughout his long pastoral ministry, including at St. James in Watertown, MA (1955–1969) and as a teacher at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.
The next series is the Joseph and Joyce Chorbajian donation. Joseph served on the original steering committee responsible for the construction of St. Vartan Cathedral. After the cathedral was operational, he served in many positions within the diocese. Several photographs show Joseph, his wife Armenouhie, and daughter Joyce throughout his life. Highlights of this donation include old passports of Joseph, Armenouhie, and Joseph’s mother Veronica and cards and letters congratulating Joseph for different honors bestowed upon him by the diocese and a banquet held in his honor on November 6, 1977.
The final series in this collection contains materials from the opening of the Zohrab Information Center on November 8, 1987 through its early years. There are several photographs from events that took place in St. Vartan Cathedral, the Zohrab Information Center, and nearby, including an assembly that took place outside the diocese seeking help and awareness for Armenians suffering from an Azeri blockade in the early 1990s.
These collections illustrate the experiences of Armenian people from the 19th and 20th centuries across the globe. It serves as an invaluable look into the lives and work of many Armenian people throughout history, especially those connected with the Armenian Church and Eastern Diocese. This collection is now available for visitors looking to conduct research or simply admire documents, artifacts, and photographs from the past. A searchable finding aid of the collection is available to view here.
If you missed David Hotson’s talk on “Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the Design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church” then you can watch the recording of the talk below (or a previous and similar talk given at an international conference on Eastern Christian architecture and Modernity at Fordham University.
“The Making of Saint Sarkis Church,” Fordham University, June 1, 2023
“Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the Design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church,” Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), November 1, 2023
Come to Kavookjian Hall at the Diocesan Center this Wednesday, Nov. 1st, to hear architect David Hotson speak on “Raising Awareness of Armenian History through the Design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church,” the award-winning church in Dallas, Texas. A reception will follow the illustrated presentation, which is organized by the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center under the auspices of Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan, primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America (Eastern).
Beginning last year, the Eastern Diocese became one of a few Armenian institutions authorized to nominate one candidate per year for the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund fellowship for graduate students. Last year, the Diocese nominated for the award Arthur Ipek, a Masters of Science student in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, a deacon at St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church (White Plains, NY), and a cataloger and special projects coordinator at the Zohrab Center.
Through a generous bequest at her death, Mrs. Liebmann, daughter of the great early 20th-century Armenian writer and statesman, Krikor Zohrab, created a perpetual charitable trust for the purpose of funding advanced education and graduate study grants in the United States of America, one of many philanthropic endeavors, which also included establishing the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center and other generous endowments benefitting the Eastern Diocese.
Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Graduate Fellowships are open to candidates currently enrolled in degree-seeking graduate programs, who have outstanding undergraduate records, have demonstrated a need for financial assistance, are citizens of the United States of America, are enrolled in accredited colleges and universities in the United States, and have received baccalaureate degrees. The trustees welcome applications from students of all national origins who are U.S. citizens.
To download an application form, click the links below:
Last weekend, Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen traveled to Washington, D.C., where he gave talks on St. Nersess Shnorhali at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic University of America. His talk at St. Mary’s parish, at the invitation of Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, entitled “The Life, Works, and Legacy of St. Nerses Shnorhali 850 Years Later,” considered the great achievements of the beloved catholicos and saint, especially his efforts to bring spiritual and religious truths in a format accessible to laymen and the general population through poetry, songs, and riddles.
His talk at the Catholic University of America, delivered to an audience of graduate students, seminarians, and faculty was entitled “The Poetic World of St. Nerses Shnorhali” and considered the voluminous poetic output of Shnorhali in light of the oral and written Armenian literary tradition of the time. It emphasized the innovation of St. Nerses’ poetic contribution in light of the literary, clerical tradition dominated by prose, as opposed to the largely oral, poetic tradition performed in the songs of the Gusans (Bards), still active in St. Nerses’ time. The talk chronicles the saint’s effort to render Scriptural, theological material in an accessible form that would be appealing to laymen, in a broader effort to replace their love of the ancient, epic, pagan, oral tradition with Christian poetry and songs based on the Scriptural tradition.
A recording of the talk at Catholic University of America may be viewed below.
A collection of about one hundred photographs from Vava Sarkis Khachaturian has recently been processed and is now available for the interested public to view at the Zohrab Information Center. The collection was processed by Linda Smith, a graduate student at Simmons University, pursing a degree in Archives Management and undertaking field experience at the Zohrab Center under the supervision of Dr. Jesse S. Arlen.
Vava Sarkis was born Vardanoush Sarian in Trabzon, Turkey on February 12, 1895. She spent most of her childhood in Batum, Georgia, living with her parents, five sisters, two brothers, and extended family. Vava later lived in Vienna and Paris, where she modeled for several artists including Henri Matisse. She met Sarkis Khachaturian while taking art lessons from him.
Sarkis was a prolific artist who helped create the Armenian Artists’ Association. He studied painting and pedagogy extensively across Europe. He painted works depicting orphans and refugees from the Armenian genocide, as well as painting Armenian churches and religious feast days and themes. Sarkis is well known as the illustrator of Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat. From 1937 to 1941, Sarkis restored and made copies from temple frescoes in India, saving this art from decay.
The couple married in 1920. Vava and Sarkis made extended travels all over the world, and first settled in Tiflis (Tbilisi), Georgia in 1923, where Vava described the city as going through an “Armenian renaissance” in several art forms, including painting, art, singing, theater, and opera. Sarkis and Vava continued traveling for work and pleasure before settling in New York in 1941. That is also the year Vava began painting, with her first one-person exhibition opening in the city in the mid-1940s. The couple never had children; in an interview Vava gave as part of Columbia University’s Armenian oral history archive, she stated that “our children [are] our paintings” which she thought was better “because they are living…for eternity.” You can listen to the entire interview here.
Sarkis died in Paris in 1947 after complications from an appendectomy. Vava remained in New York for the rest of her life, and she continued to paint and attended exhibitions of both her art and Sarkis’ art. Vava died of cancer on February 25, 1984 at the age of 89. Vava’s and Sarkis’ artwork can be seen in the National Gallery of Armenia and private collections across the globe.
This collection provides a valuable picture of the personal life and contributions of two prolific painters and active members of the Armenian community of New York in the early 20th century, as well as other important Armenian figures they knew and loved. This collection of photographs is now available for researchers and visitors to admire and learn from in the Zohrab Information Center’s library. A finding aid of the collection is available to view here.
To see a short blog post about Vava with two photographs of her art and a painting that Sarkis did of her, click here.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art received a donation from Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas William D’Elia in memory of Sarkis Katchadourian in 1949. Click here to view Sarkis’ “Seated man in European Clothes Holding a Bottle.”
The Vemkar 6-part lecture series “Entering the World, Mind, and Soul of St. Nersess Shnorhali” is available to view on YouTube. Organized in commemoration of the 850th anniversary of the saint’s repose and in response to the pontifical encyclical of His Holiness Karekin II issued earlier this year (ARMENG), the lecture series began on August 22nd and continued on consecutive Tuesday evenings through September 26th.