Compiled by Jirair Tutunjian
Posted by Nayiri Abrahamian
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Silk Scarves of Agalci

For centuries Armenians in the villages of Agalci, in Western Armenia, cultivated silk. With it they wove fine carpets and flowing scarves that were traded all along the Silk Road from China to Europe. As a result of the Genocide of Armenians, the Agalci Armenians were killed by the Turks and the village was inhabited by Kurds.  Several years ago the mayor decided to revive the ancient Armenian craft. He was inspired by his wife, the daughter of two Armenians rescued as children by Kurdish neighbors in 1915. But all that had remained from the Armenian heritage were a pair of gnarled mulberry trees planted by Armenians long ago. Thanks to the European Union, a big grant was given to Agalci to plan mulberry trees, silkworms and looms. Some 15 girls were trained to spin, weave and dye the silk. At $35 each, the scarves cost far more than those of competitors in China and India. “They use machine spun silk, our girls make everything by hand. Just like the Armenians,” said the mayor.

Armenian Conscripts Following Crimea War of 1853

In “Crimea”, Trevor Royle wrote: Following the Russian victories in the field, which had given them the upper hand in Asia Minor, in the early winter of 1853 the Ottoman forces had been reinforced with Armenian conscripts and there had been a change in command, Abdi Pasha was sacked and replaced by Ahmed Pasha.”

Khanasor Expedition

The Khanasor Expedition was undertaken by the Armenian militia against the Kurdish Mazrik tribe on July 25, 1897. In 1896, during the defense of Van, the Mazrik tribe ambushed a squad of Armenian defenders and slaughtered them. The Khanasor Expedition was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) retaliation. The Mazriks lived in Khanasor, near Avarayr, the Vartanants battlefield. The ARF, with the support of the Hnchagians and the Armenagans, organized an attack on the Kurds. The brain of the operation was Nigol Douman. At dawn on July 25, some 250 fedayees attacked the Mazriks, killing all the men and sparing only the women and children. The attack ended on Jul 27. Khanasor helped build up the self-confidence of Armenians that they could defend themselves.

Armenians in Madras

Ten years ago there were only two Armenians left in Chennai (Madras), India. One of them—Michael Stephen-- was the guardian of the city’s 130-seat St. Mary’s Armenian Church. It’s here that the first Armenian newspaper was printed in the late 1700s. In an interview, Mr. Stephen said: “The Armenian built their church here in their cemetery, after the original 1712 church was demolished in 1746 during the French occupation of Madras.” The thriving Armenian community was composed of traders and refugees from Persia, Iraq, and Armenia. “The Armenian trade was to west Asia and east up to the Philippines. It took in cottons and textiles, timber, precious stones, hemp and spices. From what I can see, they all made their fortunes here. They were very very religious people and contributed greatly to the churches they belonged to,” said Mr. Stephen. Services are still held when a priest visits with a group of Calcutta Armenians four to six times a year. There were about 140 Armenians in Calcutta in 2003.

James Russell Regarding Mesrob Mashdots

According to James Russell, the Mashdots Professor of Armenian at Harvard, the principle reason why Mesrob Mashdots invented the Armenian alphabet was to change Armenia’s cultural orientation from the Iranian East to the Mediterranean West. Mashdots also “gave Armenia the means and the incentive to remain Christian.”

Turkish Rulers Changing Toponyms

Ottoman and Turkish rulers realized the strategic importance of toponyms and carried out consistent policies towards their distortion and appropriation. With the aim of the assimilation of the toponyms of the newly conquered territories the Ottoman authorities translated them into Turkish from their original languages or transformed the local dialectal place-names by the appropriation of contamination to make them sound like Turkish word-forms. Yet another method of appropriation was that of the deliberate etymological misinterpretation of the toponyms in question. Another government decision was to change “Western Armenia” to “Eastern Turkey”.

Attempted Assassination of Col. W.F. Stirling and Dr. Ernest Altounian

In Nov. 1949 three men entered the house of 69-year-old Col. W.F. Stirling in Damascus and shot him six times. The “London Times” correspondent was alleged to be a British spy. Stirling’s life was saved by his friend Dr. Ernest Altounian who ran a private hospital in Aleppo. The Armenian doctor, having attended the Rugby School in England, had an English wife and many friends in U.K.  After the British had invaded Syria in 1941, he volunteered his services. He worked in military intelligence throughout the war in northern Syria. Dr. Altounian operated on Sterling within half an hour of the attack, extracting two of the six bullets from his friend’s body. He decided the other four should have to stay in place. Sterling recovered and flew to Cairo, never to return to Syria.

Origins of the Saxon Peoples

The word “Armenia” occurs twice in the King James Bible (2 Kings 19:37 and Isa. 37:38). It does not appear in other versions (NRSV, NIV, NKJV). The Hebrew word for Armenia is “Ararat.” Ararat was the name of a part of Armenia. Three provinces of this land are mentioned in Jer. 51:27,  Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Some people think Minni is a contraction of Armenia. The Jewish culture centered in Germany was called Ashkenazi from the Armenian region of Ashkenaz. Some have speculated that the name was adopted as rabbinical name for Germany in the 11th century, perhaps because of phonic resemblance to ‘Saxonia’ or to the name of the presumed Germanic homeland in ‘Scania’. Some Christian Evangelists believe that ancient Israelite tribes migrated through Armenia to settle in Europe. It is well known that “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle”, written around 800 AD, traces the origins of the Saxon peoples to Armenia.

Adventurer Gacic Ter-Oganisyan and Chechnya's President Dudayev

In “McMafia”, Misha Glenny wrote about colorful adventurer Gacic Ter-Oganisyan of London and his friendship with the brothers Ruslan and Nazarbeg Utsiev who had arrived in London as envoys of President Dudayev [of Chechnya] to buy weapons. “At some point relations between the Armenian and the Chechens soured….Ter-Oganisyan had discovered that the Stinger missiles were destined for Azerbaijan to be deployed in the war against his home country, Armenia. There was a second theory: that the Stingers were indeed bound for Chechnya and the Utsiev brothers and Ter-Oganisyan fell out over money. What is certain is that Ter-Oganisyan alerted senior members of the Armenian KGB from Los Angeles, the center of the Armenian Diaspora in the United States, to London. The Utsiev brothers were murdered in gruesome fashion. Ter-Oganisyan is now doing life for their murders, while a co-defendant, an officer of Armenia’s KGB, hanged himself at Belmarsh Prison while awaiting trial…”

Café Armenian Import to Paris

In his review (Times Literary Supplement) of Andrew Harris’ “Paris”, Steven Poole wrote: “…the idea of the café was anyway an Armenian import to Paris in the 1660s.”

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