Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Maida Malikyan and Gibrahayer EMagazine - Film: The Cut must be seen film of the Year!

In 1915 a man survives the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, but loses his family, speech and faith

Eleonora Asatryan

«Հայ ժողովուրդը ազատատենչ ժողովուրդ եղած է ի սկզբանե՝ վկա է մեր պատմությունը: Արդեն մեր ըմբռնումով և, թույլ տվեք ասել, քրիստոնեական...

R. P. Sevadjian - 'In The Shadow Of The Sultan'

Hello Seta, 

I hope this finds you well. I am launching my book 'In The Shadow of the Sultan' on Sunday in Nicosia. 
I wondered if you would like to include it on your blog. look up 'In The Shadow Of The Sultan' on FB.

Happy New Year!

Thanks Seta.

ISBN 978-0-9931339-1-6

Get it from Moufflon

An historical coming of age novel.


In The Shadow of The Sultan by
R. P. Sevadjian
This is the story of a boy in his early teens, who leaves his home and journeys 200 miles to his grandmother’s town. He makes the 21 day journey in the company of his beloved dog (Kaylo) and a mule (Vartoug). The story is set in the late summer of 1896, during the height of the Hamidiyan Massacres in Asia Minor. These were a prelude to the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and the story shows that the seeds of Genocide were sown long before then. The story is written in the hope that it will be read by teenagers, young adults and those who have little or no familiarity with Armenian history of the period.

The narrator grows from a happy, pampered boy into a mature youngster who can make hard deci- sions for himself. It is a coming of age story, and a story about irredeemable loss. His old life ends, and he is pushed by events into taking a certain path in his life. Circumstances shape our destiny. This is an adventure story of survival and self-discovery.
Anyone reading this book should be able to visualise themselves as the boy, even though the events take place more than a hundred years ago. The narrator is the embodiment of what it means to be a Western Armenian: forever cast out of his homeland. The point is not laboured, after all it is the same for all displaced persons; the boy’s story could be happening right now in parts of the Near/Middle East.

The politics have been kept to a minimum as a young teenager probably would not have been dis- cussing it in detail. Hopefully, the story will provide an insight to the way of life for Armenians at the time. Details of distances, phases of the moon, days of the week etc. bring the story to life. For- eign words have been footnoted and a glossary provided, as well as a list of personal names and their meanings. There are also short historical notes to guide the reader.

The book has been written as a continuous narrative, without chapter headings. However it clearly falls into two parts: before and after the event that changed the boy’s life.
The maturing of the boy is shown through his actions when he meets various people on his journey; kind people, bad people, helpless people. An elderly adventurer called Baron Garabed, who helps him early in his journey, provides some more background to the story.
The psychological implications of violence - graphically described in the narrative - often results in trauma. This, in certain types of behaviour, is hinted at in the text: a coldness, false bravery, 
survivor's guilt, haunting and recurring nightmares.

Continued overleaf


R. P. Sevadjian is a third generation Diasporan Armenian, whose family left Asia Minor in the 1800s and was scattered across the world, no member remaining in their ancestral homelands.
For further information, please write to

Moufflon Bookshop 38 Sofouli Street 1096 Nicosia, Cyprus Tel. 22 665 155


December 2014.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014


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News and views from the Armenian Institute
Dear reader, սիրելի ընթերցող,
2014 ISSUE
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Welcome to the Armenian Institute’s second edition of its newsletter Bardez/Partez. This year’s ‘garden’* is dedicated to ‘Armenian London’ with a special spread on the Armenian Banquet at the Swan, the restaurant at Shakespeare’s Globe, and share a poem on the Armenian House, a place of gathering and debate for Armenians in central London for many decades. With this year started also the preparation of the commemoration of the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide. We think about what was lost in the Ottoman Empire and what remains for the current generation of the Armenian Nation as we learn about the Fabricatorian Brothers, renowned textile merchants and reflect on how the Diaspora, in particular, can overcome intellectually and artistically the stigma of 1915.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue.
Anahide Pilibossian
on behalf of the Armenian Institute Publishing Committee

* bardez / partez means garden in Armenian
The Director’s message:
Looking back over the last year we have had a remarkable upsurge in the number of events and activities organised and hosted by the Armenian Institute. The range has been varied and rich as you can see in our special double page spread of our events in 2014 (pp.10-11).
Naturally, we are planning events for what will be a momentous year 2015, when all Armenian communities around the world will be commemorating the 1915 horrific Genocide which cast its shadow over every family.
Nouritza Matossian
From Arabkir to Tourcoing PAGE 2
Armenian Street in Penang PAGE 3
Silicon Yerevan? PAGE 6
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In 2004, I commissioned Colefax & Fowler, a global brand of fabric designers and manufacturers, to reproduce nine materials that were made by the leading Ottoman textile business a century ago - the Fabricatorian Brothers of Kharpert, (today’s Elazığ) Turkey. The designs were taken from colour copies incorporated in Antranik Poladian’s History of the Armenians of Arabkir (New York, 1969). The objective of reproducing these designs was so that they would be integrated into the display of the Armenian Genocide Museum in Washington DC, which sadly floundered after a decade of protracted internecine litigation. These nine materials are now available to be seen at the Armenian Institute in London, and in a few months ‘time, at the Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan, Armenia, and also at the Armenian Museum of America, in Boston.
The five Fabricatorian Brothers
The history of the Fabricatorian Brothers started with Krikor Fabricatorian, one of Arabkir’s most talented sons. Krikor was the son of Garabed Ipekjian,* who was engaged in farming and weaving silk aprons. He travelled to Garin (today’s Erzurum) and sold his aprons, earning annually some fifty gold coins, which was enough for him and his family to live on for the rest of the year. He managed to find a way to raise productivity in the lace-making craft. In those days, one person could weave about 40 metres of lace per day, but Krikor, operating the machine by hand, managed to weave about 200 metres per day. Later on, he improved the horsepower of his machine and produced about 1,000 metres a day a twenty-fold increase. As competition became fierce, hundreds of shops closed. To avoid the manifest hostility of his competitors, Krikor fled Erzurum to Damascus.
At that time, Damascus was a leading city in the silk-weaving industry. Meeting Hanne Polati was a turning point in Krikor’s career. Polati owned a silk-weaving factory running on imported European machines, but did not know how to fix them. One day, Polati invited Krikor to fix his broken machines, and not long after Krikor became a shareholder in the factory. The dreams of this young entrepreneur did not stop there. He was keen to increase his knowledge of the craft, and so shortly after, he moved to Lebanon, to work with a French textile firm supplying the European markets with silk. There, Krikor visited many factories and although he spoke little French, he studied the business operations and technology of weaving machines.
In 1854, Krikor returned home to Arabkir, where his parents married him to Elizabeth Kalpakian. He had hardly been home for three years when a wealthy Kharpert businessman, Missakian Hadji Bedros Aga, who was in Arabkir on a visit, invited him to move to Kharpert, promising him funding. In the first two years after opening his business in Kharpert, Krikor had little profit to show. His partner became frustrated and reproached him for having wasted his money. Krikor firmly believed in the success of his enterprise and after ten years of difficulties and sacrifices, he finally bought out his partner’s shares.
A sample of the Fabricatorian Brothers’ fabrics
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*There is no record of when and how the family name changed, but assumptions were that it was a moniker that was used by others to praise him for his success and as a result he assumed the title as his family name
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In 1886, Krikor sent three of his sons, Mamas, Dikran and Garabed to the major industrial centres of Europe and America, where they spent two years studying the weaving machines and business operations and on returning home, they brought new spinning machines. In 1888, the Ottoman government awarded Krikor Effendi the Osmanieh Order, third class for his products and an imperial Ottoman ordinance was passed giving a tax-free concession to his brand and a warehouse free of charge in Beşiktaş , a district in Istanbul. That same year he also travelled to France to take part in an exhibition and he also won a first award in the Chicago Exhibition. In 1906 at the Exposition Internationale des Industries Textiles, in Tourcoing, France, the Fabricatorian Brothers also won top prize. Ultimately, Krikor’s vision was to develop an industry that would serve all classes of people, and at his desk at the age of 75, he was fortunate to see the operation of his spinning mill which provided fabrics for the general population at affordable prices.
Prior to the 1915 deportations, the five sons of Krikor Effendi: Mamas, Aharon, Dikran, Garabed, and Samuel, managed the business. It then employed a total of 300 women, who produced all
kinds of canvas, silk, curtains, and other fine fabrics. Mamas was a member of the Kharpert
city council and a shareholder. Aharon managed the purchases and sales, buying thread and
selling the finished material. Dikran was an experienced and knowledgeable engineer. Garabed was also an engineer, who supervised the production and helped Dikran. Samuel was experienced in the dyeing business.

The appalling events that befell the Armenian people in 1915 did not spare the Fabricatorian clan. In fact, all five brothers were deported and killed in Malatya. Their mother Elizabeth, aged 80 then, was drowned in Malatya. All five sisters, Doudou, Nartouhi, Anna, Elmas, Meliné survived, but all lost most of their families, with the exception of Nartouhi, my great- grandmother, who had moved to Egypt and Sudan. The Ottoman government seized all the assets of the Fabricatorian business and family and the rest is history.
These nine woven fabrics are the only evidence left of the Fabricatorian legacy, but sufficient to weave and retell the history of a remarkable man and his family, whose descendants are now scattered all over the world.
George Jerjian is the writer of Arabkir: Homage to an Armenian Community re-printed in 2014 and his latest book Daylight After a Century is available from December 2014.
BACK TO ... SOUTH EAST ASIA - by Belinda Keheyan
missing a congregation. More tragic a fate has befallen the Armenian church in Burma.
and at its core is Armenian Street. Sympathetic but decidedly contemporary regeneration and gentrification are the watchwords here. Funky boutique hotels jostle for space with traditional garish Indian garment shops and zinc- countered vegan coffee shops. The area is also home to some of the most fun and interactive street art around. Cool and Armenian...two words one doesn’t often find together.
Letter with the Fabricatorian Bros’ medallion
There was a time when saying you are an Armenian in South East Asia did not require a lengthy explanation spanning geography, history and theology. This was largely thanks to the Sarkies brothers who established some of the most luxurious and iconic hotels in the region during the first half of the 20th century. Establishments such as The Stand in Rangoon, The Eastern & Oriental in Penang and, the most famous of all, Raffles in Singapore. While these buildings have survived and are thriving, the Armenian communities of the region have all but vanished. The glorious church of St Gregory the Illuminator in the heart of Singapore still stands but is
Occupying a large central square in downtown Rangoon, St John the Baptist was deserted when I visited last year, except for rats the size of well-fed house cats running around the yard. The local caretaker living in a shed behind the church kindly showed us around. The fabric of the building is fast deteriorating, he explained, though some ‘rich Armenian from Russia’ has apparently paid for the paving around the building to be fixed (! really ?). I saw reports recently on the BBC that Catholicos Karekin II had visited St John’s and held a service. Is this a spiritual re-awakening? The cynic in me thinks that Etchmiadzin may instead have woken up to the real estate potential in one of South East Asia’s fastest emerging states.
On a more positive note, it is wonderful to see that Armenian St is the centre of the alternative culture in Malaysia’s second city of Penang. Penang’s Georgetown district, a UNESCO heritage site, is a wonderful mix of Chinese, Malay and Colonial architecture
Saint John in Rangoon
“Back to” is a series of Armenian tales in unexpected places around the world
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Reflections on the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide
Beyond Survival, Beyond Recognition By Dr. Susan Pattie
Dr. Susan Pattie, PhD in Cultural Anthropology, teaches and writes about issues of diaspora life. She was one of the founders and then Director of the Armenian Institute. Recently, she has worked in the U.S. at the Armenian Museum of America and currently as Program Manager of the National Genocide commemorations. She shares her personal reflections on the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide .
I grew up in a large, happy extended family. We all knew that the family might have been many times larger. But the woman at the center of this, the woman who had walked across deserts, lost 4 children, saved two only to lose one more soon after arrival in America, this woman set the tone for the household and for the next generations’ understanding of the tragedy. Her remaining son, eventually a community leader, took his mother’s approach to the world as he found it appreciate what you have, make the most of it, take care of family (and anyone else who wanders into your circle). Neither of these survivors was bitter, neither of them showed or passed on hatred of the people who had killed our family. Both talked about it to us though of course, we did not pay as much attention as we should have.
One hundred years after the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, many things have changed. Some have stayed the same, the most obvious being Turkey’s continuing denial. Why does it matter that the Armenian Genocide be recognized by Turkey? It will not, as some people proclaim, prevent other genocides. However, Turkey will be a better place, not only for Armenians and other minorities but for all Turkish citizens. This matters and is important for all of us.
Secondly, Armenian homelands are primarily in the land that is now Turkey. They are shared with varieties of Kurdish people, some of whom have not only recognized their ancestors’ roles in brutal massacres but have apologized and initiated the renovation of Armenian buildings, vernacular and sacred. Genocide recognition, including a different attitude towards minorities and Armenians specifically, opens the door for more partnerships in the “old country”.
Today, there is an ever-increasing number of people who are making a difference within Turkey itself, along with Turkish people living outside. These include Turkish, Kurdish and other scholars who bravely press forward with high-quality work on the genocide and surrounding periods, and other writers who face being marginalized, imprisoned or worse for keeping the subject alive. The thousands of Turkish people who mourned Hrant Dink, carrying signs saying “We are all Hrant Dink” included people from all walks of life. What may bring this all to the tipping point is the many people discovering their hidden Armenian roots, their Armenian grandmother.
It is our job in diaspora and in Armenia, to find appropriate
ways to support these people, their work, their discoveries. At the same time, we need to work in parallel on ourselves and our lives outside the homelands. It is now our choice to be here, wherever “here” is, if not emigrating to Armenia. Those of us whose ancestors were the survivors have been carried along on the strength of their memory, their powerful presence in our lives, the smells, tastes and sounds of a place that we did not experience but became almost tangible through them. They are gone. Our children and their children do not have this. Are we going to bequeath to them only a hatred of Turks for killing and then denying the Genocide happened?
We are spread out, we are diverse but we are still connected today. It is past time to build on this in new ways and
recognize that respect for diversity, not “sameness” is the foundation for unity. We can be different but united in our goals, if only we knew what our goals were. The Genocide will be officially recognized. There are too many people within Turkey now who know so much more than they did before. For Armenians in the diaspora, Recognition is a single issue. For the many Turkish people who know that for Turkey to move forward, it must come to terms with its own past,
Recognition is an integral part of a bigger project.
For those of us in diaspora, what is our project? To engage with Armenia, recognizing differences in style and overcoming mutual mis-communication. We must help by enabling talent, helping to create jobs. In the diaspora, our project should be to provide the generous assistance to our fellow Armenians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere that was given to us by non- Armenians at the time of the Genocide. Indeed, we should be following that example by also aiding those who are not from our ethnic group. Then let’s move forward into the next 100 years, aiming to come out in 2115 having harnessed our many talents, wealth and intelligence into thriving social and cultural institutions in diaspora that reflect our history and cultural heritage while seeking relevant connections and making contributions to the contemporary worlds in which we live.
Let us do more than survive. Let us do more than try to recreate what we have lost or willingly left behind. Let us create inclusive communities that young people want to be part of, imagining new ways of being Armenian that build on the old.
Explanatory note on the photography: The author's grandparents, Iskouhi and Stepan Boghosian are shown with their children in Kessab, Syria, c.
1910. Stepan immigrated to the U.S. in 1914, intending to bring the family there soon afterwards. However in 1915, Iskouhi and by then 6 children began the deportations as Kessab was emptied in stages. She and two children survived, Rose (far right) and Jack (center). They later joined Stepan in the U.S. where Rose (or Gul) soon died of cancer but one more child, Helen, was born
Armine, Sister, a play produced by Teatr Zar from Poland, dedicated to Armenian history and culture , performed from 2 to 11 October 2014 at Battersea Art Centre. We asked Friends of the AI what they thought of this perspective on the Armenian Genocide. (See also page 11)
Along with Peter Brook’s now almost legendary “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and some of the earlier performances by Victoria Chaplin’s “Le Cirque Imaginaire”, this is one of the three most remarkable pieces of theatre I have seen in my life. We live at a time when the words “multicultural” and “multi-disciplinary” are bandied around all too casually, but this truly was a performance that drew on a great many different cultures and disciplines. The singing - Kurdish, Persian and Armenian modal - was superb; and the clash of different styles made each seem more powerful. The actors were not only actors and singers but also gymnasts. The set was brilliantly conceived: great pillars, representing an Armenian church, were gradually dismantled, serving in turn as gallows, gravestones, cradles and coffins. And they contained within them the desert sands that would eventually sweep over the church. Every moment of the performance was intensely dramatic, yet what I found most striking about Jarosław Fret (the director of Teatr
Zar) was his lack of theatricality. He seemed to have turned to the theatre to answer philosophical questions - about the nature of memory and the act of memorialising. Much of Armine, Sister was intensely painful to witness, yet it will stay in my mind as a supreme image of artistic commitment and spiritual integrity.
Robert Chandler
British poet and translator. He is the editor of Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida (Penguin)
I think there are only two words to describe the
production of
Armine, Sister: captivating and intense.
Everything about the performance struck an emotion.
I particularly enjoyed the mixture of Middle–Eastern music that was an integral part of the production along with an excellent use of props. Every second was exciting and unexpected; from the violent destruction of the churches symbolised with tall pillars, to the gushing of the desert sand, which swept everything away. Each and every object was symbolic with a wide range of colours used. I was particularly impressed with the use of the pomegranate, symbolising bloodshed and eventual death. This performance allowed for a multitude of interpretations as became evident when I discussed it with my father, which I think made it so special and so unique from any other performance I had seen. There is no doubt that I will never forget this powerful experience and I hope that one
-day it will become a world- famous production.
Noemi Stepan-Sarkissian (aged 16)
Thank you to all who have supported the Armenian Institute again this year, Friends, Patrons and Benefactors. We are grateful for your continued support, encouragement and generosity.
We would especially like to express our gratitude to Garo Medazoumian FCA who for the past two years has given his professional time freely to examine the annual accounts of the Armenian Institute and provide the Independent Examiner’s Report for the Charity Commission.

Our 2014 Benefactors were: Richard Anooshian, Krikor Didonian, Diana and Panos Katsouris and Ani King-Underwood.
Regretfully, we lost two close Friends of the member of the Executive Committee who has
Our sincere condolences go to
Armenian Institute this year, Helen Culleton, a supported the AI for many years and John Heron. Helen’s and John’s families
Jonathan Taylor, a writer from
Leicestershire, has just published a
first novel which deals with both
Armenian music (and especially
that of Aram Khachaturian), and
the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922.
Though it is set mainly in a
Midlands town in 1997,
Entertaining Strangers flashes
back to 1922 and the story of one
Armenian girl’s trauma in an
extended, climatic chapter. It is gradually revealed that her trauma, including her treatment by a British warship docked in the harbour, forms the horrifying and secret pre-history lying behind the strange world of the novel’s main characters. The Armenian Institute helped Jonathan a great deal with the research for the novel, and he was also inspired by the exhibition Treasured Objects: Armenian Life in the Ottoman Empire, 100 Years Ago’ (organised by the AI at Brunei Gallery, SOAS in 2010).
Entertaining Strangers is a tragi-comedy about the eccentric Edwin Princea depressive intellectual obsessed with high culture and antsand the mysterious, homeless narrator Jules, who gradually unravels Edwin’s impossible relationships with his landlady, neurotic mother, psychotic brother, domineering ex-wife, dead grandfather and, above all, his ant-farm. At the same time, Jules continually experiences traumatic memories full of fire and water, and a terrible pre-history emerges from beneath all the other stories, which seems somehow to shape both Jules’s fiery dreams and Edwin’s obsessions—a great fire, massacre and one girl’s drowning in Smyrna, 75 years earlier.
The author Louis de Bernières, who has also written about Asia Minor in the early 20th century in his novel Birds Without Wings, wrote that Entertaining Strangers is “original, strange, funny, profound”, and the author Sophie Duffy commented that it is “a literary novel with prose like music”. The novel was shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award and longlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize.
This is Jonathan Taylor’s first novel. Previously he published a memoir, Take Me Home: Parkinson’s, My Father, Myself (Granta Books, 2007). He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester, and co-director of arts organisation and small publisher Crystal Clear Creators. He lives in Leicestershire with his wife, the poet Maria Taylor, and their twin daughters, Miranda and Rosalind. His website is Entertaining Strangers is published by Salt, and can be ordered from their website or
A poem about the Armenian House in London (Hye Doon), by Anahid Gorgodian
Anahid Gorgodian was born in Istanbul in 1920. She wrote articles for the Jamanak newspaper and continued to contribute after moving to London in 1946. She has always been passionate about the Armenian House, of which her husband, Krikor Gorgodian, was a founder trustee. Anahid became a trustee herself after his
death. This poem celebrates the special position the Armenian House holds in the heart of the community, and of the Armenian Institute as many of our events and lectures take place in the House.
Ձօն՝ Հայ Տունին
Արեւելքէն թէ Արեւմուտք,
Հայ ժողովուրդէն ցիրուցան, բեկոր մը հոս, բեկոր մը հոն, տարուբերող յորձանքին հետ, տեղացիներ թէ դրսեցի,
կամ ուղեւոր մը միայնակ, երկրէ երկիր, քաղաքէ քաղաք, Հայը Հայուն կը փնտռէ:

Իր երկրէն դուրս ..., հայրենաբաղձ՝
Օտար ափեր, օտար հողեր ապաստանած Հայ պանդուխտը արմատ դրած՝ ասպնջական ուրիշներու երկնքին տակ, գաղթականի իր մականով կուգայ կ'երթայ փնտռելու – հարազատներ իրեն նման:
Եւ, երբ անցնի ճանապարհին Լոնտոնի սա մեր քաղաքէն, Ժամուն բակը թէ Հայ Տունը՝ Հայը Հայուն կը փնտռէ:

Իսկ հիւրաբար եւ այցելու՝ հեռուներէն եկող Հայը, երեւելի թէ աննշան,
գէթ անգամ մը դրան սեմին թողած է իր ոտքի փոշին օտարութեամ մէջ ովասիս, լուսապայծառ մէկ փարոս, մեր սեփական Հայ Տունին, ուր՝ Հայը Հայուն կը գտնէ:

Եւ երբ գտաւ Հայը Հայուն,
փոյթ չէ թէ ինչ պայմաններով – բո՞յն է շինած Լոնտոնի մէջ
թէ՝ տեղահա՞ն իր իսկ բոյնէն – պահ մը առաջ դեռ անծանօթ՝ մոռցած արդէն օտարութիւն:
Եւ անգամ մը որ միացան,
ինչե՜ր չկան խօսելու որ,
հինէ՜ն, նորէ՜ն, փառքի յուշե՜ր տառապանքի, կամ կարօտի,
կամ ալ ներկան եւ ապագա'ն,
Հայ կեանքէն ներս անցուդարձե'ր:

Նիւթը շատ է, հատնո'ւմ չունի: Որտե՞ղ ուրիշ իր տունէն դուրս, Լոնտոնի մէջ շաբաթն ի բուն Հայը ուրիշ Հայեր գտնէ...
Օր ըստ օրէ աճող համայնք միայն ունի մէ'կ Հայ կեդրոն... Հայ Տունն է ան գրկաբաց հիւրընկալէ ազգակիցներ եկող, գացող, կամ մնայուն,
եւ ուր Հայը գտնէ Հայուն
Անահիտ Կորկոտեան 26-5-1979 Լոնտոն
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The Armenian Institute is pleased to announced that there will be a book launch of Entertaining Strangers by Jonathan Taylor at the Armenian House on 22 January 2015.
ISSUE 2014 6
-By Anoosh Chakelian
Probably not a question you’ll hear among the chai latte- whatsapping, microbrew-Googling be-sneakered young drones in the tech start-up world, but here goes: Is Armenia the original Silicon Valley?
Every proud Armenian, even those middle-aged leather- jacketed men persevering with their Nokia 3310s, will know about the Apple founder Steve Jobs’ Armenian heritage. The late maverick in a black turtleneck was adopted, and his adoptive mother was Armenian American. The lower case “i” on iPhones and iPods is probably actually short for “ian”. Maybe.
Anyway, it’s not only Jobs who hints at the surprisingly tech- savvy element of Armenia’s history. It was also an Armenian who was key to creating the iconic addictive computer game Tetris.
Yes, without a stroke of genius from a little Caucasian pocket of the Soviet Union, generations of adults and children alike would have been deprived of the inexplicable joy of getting increasingly sore thumbs while trying to shoe-horn small pixelated blocks into one another to a tinny, stressful soundtrack.
It was the 30th anniversary of the invention of Tetris in June this year, which led me to researching the origins of the world-renowned matching tile puzzle video game. And I found an Armenian at the heart of the story. And not just any Armenian the Armenian ambassador in London, Armen Sarkissian.
Sarkissian, whose background is as a mathematician and physicist, is one of the original authors of the series of computer games in the Tetris Group, having worked on video game software back in the days of the Soviet Union. He went on to have many business activities in the computer software industry, including the authorship of the game software.
When he was a mathematician and physicist in Moscow during the Eighties in the Soviet Union, he founded the Tetris Group along with fellow games developers, including who he describes as a Russian-Jewish man and a Korean from Kazakhstan. He tells me that Tetris Group games were at the time “registered and sold by the Soviet government, not by the authors”. So the people who invented what is one of history’s most popular addictive arcade games went unknown, and received no royalties for it: “Nobody made money on Tetris,” he recalls, “and it made hundreds of millions of pounds. The Soviet Union made the money.”
The game Sarkissian was most involved in designing was Wordtris, an offshoot of Tetris where you essentially match etters instead of blocks to create words. He shows me an old, lurid red box containing the old Wordtris game; it looks sweetly and scruffily early-Nineties in the context of the grand upholstery in his West London residence. He points out that it is bears the company name “Armenika” – “my name”, he explains, proudly.
“Once in a while, you get logical games that conquer the world,” he reflects. “For example, the Rubik’s Cube and Tetris. Tetris conquered the world because of simplicity – and there were also Factris, Wordtris and 3D Tetris.”
What is fascinating about Armenia’s special part in the technology story is that it is a country usually associated with other, more earthy industries: gold-mining and, say,
growing and eating pomegranates. But it is unusual in the number of, well, geeks, it produces. Take its proliferation of chess grandmasters, for example. Its aptitude here has led it to being referred to as the “Cleverest nation on earth”.
Sarkissian reflects on this analysis, linking his talent and passion for computer modelling of complex systems and theoretical physics with the ordinary Armenian childhood pursuit of chess:
“In my personal life, logical games are very important,” he nods. “I was a child when my father taught me chess I was very good at chess. I used to beat very old people, who’d get annoyed that a child was beating them. When I was really
young, I remember we had a neighbour, a retired gentleman, and running between being fed and making my next move against the neighbour. I personally value logical games – chess included.”
Perhaps as technology and with it new, addictive computer games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds is seeing such a spectacular time of progression in this modern age, it’s time for Armenia to join it and shout about its place in digital history. Then maybe all the blocks will start falling neatly into place.
Anoosh Chakelian is Staff writer at the New Statesman, ex-deputy editor of Total Politics.
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ISSUE 2014 7
The Armenian Institute’s Salon Mashup event in Shoreditch Town Hall in 2013 was not only hugely popular and multi-faceted (see our previous Bardez/ Partez issue), it also produced a wondrous echo. A director from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre came to Salon Mashup and invited its director, Seta White, to create an evening of Armenian Troubadour music and poetry. This invitation was to become the two Armania concerts of April 2014. However, AI’s new director, Nouritza Matossian, felt that more could be made of the opportunity to work with the Globe. She tells us, below, what happened next...
I have always been intrigued by how European Kings had led their knights and armies to Armenia, a Christian states on the way to fight the Crusader wars in the Holy Land. They rested, re-victualed and sometimes marriages were arranged with Armenian princesses. What were the courts like? How were they entertained? Was Frankish really spoken in court by Armenian nobles? Why not seize the opportunity to stage an Armenian Banquet in honour of Shakespeare's 450th Birthday and Armenian music, recreate some of our delicacies in the setting of the Globe? I asked Diccon Wright of the Globe’s Swan restaurant if we could arrange an Armenian banquet alongside Armania. His response was enthusiastic:
"How exciting. We've never done Armenian food. Do you have a chef? You'll come and teach the chefs and I'll book the Balcony Room at once. It will be brilliant!"
That is how I found myself walking downstairs into the kitchens of the Globe underneath the
Thames River to meet Chef Brett
Golding. I clasped jars of tahini,

sumac, roasted cumin, rose water and my grandmother's long thin tapered rolling pin from Gesaria (modern Kayseri, Turkey) and, most precious of all, mother's handwritten recipe book. My mother was named after Satenig, Queen of Armenia; she was majesty in the kitchen. I was named more modestly: a pomegranate.
"I thought we' would serve six courses Brett, for each of the six provinces of Armenia which were taken from us in the Genocide."
Brett nodded, "I've heard about that. I am really excited to learn these dishes from you. Here are the ingredients you asked for."
He pointed out a shelf of choicest meats, vegetables, pulses and yogurts. We were positioned next to the hot kitchen with a huge hob and steam oven, a skyscraper of pots and pans, the heart of the warren of different kitchens. White coated cooks rushed in and out loaded with pots and trays. We started off with minced lamb and bulgur basic mixture for raw kofte and salads. With beef we made meat balls cooked in broth and floated them in yoghurt and mint. Using the same mix we hollowed little cups filled them with fried onion and meat and walnuts mixture, sealed and boiled them. We finally layered the mixture flat with the filling sandwiched in between to be baked in the steam oven. Three dishes or one? Which would he prefer?
I explained the difference between my father's cuisine from Ainteb in Cilicia and my mother's from Gesaria, Cappadocia. Grandfather dealt in dried meats and my father in spices. The kiwi chef smiled and smiled. I was shocked as I watched his hands copying mine just as I had copied my mother's. I remembered the little blue Jerusalem cross tattooed on Grandmother Hajigul's hand as she worked. I was overwhelmed at how much emotion was locked up in that memory of hands passing on their choreography.
We made Lenten topik chick peas and potatoes coarsely mashed, filled with a mixture of fried onions, pine nuts, raisins and lemon juice and modelled into baseballs, tied into cloth and boiled. These were then sliced with the layers showing and dusted with cumin, lemon juice and olive oil. Brett deftly opened rounds of fresh pasta to make manti. I cut the pasta into tiny squares and filled each with dots of meat, onion and parsley and pinched the corners into little boats. I showed him how to place them in a honeycomb pattern on trays and bake gently in the oven till crisp and pink. Then we doused them in a broth mixed with yoghourt beaten with garlic, a trickle of tomato sauce and sprinkled with sumac and hot red pepper.
Later on I taught Brett several more dishes - another full day of kneading and shaping and mixing lamb fillets stuffed with apricot and lemon zest cooked with a glaze of pomegranate molasses followed by different salads. Lastly I showed him how to make filo pastry sprinkled with walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and sugar twisted into airy rings, which I used to tie around my wrist as a child. A good syrup with lemon juice bubbled while they baked till crisp. We added some drops of finest rose water
and sprinkled the syrup over the pastries till they glistened and crunched in the mouth.
This sumptuous feast needed an appropriate setting. We picked heavy silver candlesticks, kilim- patterned table cloths, red pomegranates in place of flowers, menus designed to be reminiscent of illuminated Armenian manuscripts, and napkins rolled with red, blue and orange tassels
The evening of Sunday April
sipping pomegranate and champagne cocktails. Guests came from all over, from abroad, children with their parents, Armenian Institute friends and newcomers. Black gloved staff brought up trays of gorgeously arranged food; the buzz crescendoed into clamour. Course upon lavish course had been faithfully copied by Brett and his staff. Children abandoned their hamburgers for meatball soup and elders gave approving smiles and praise. Just before the concert was due to begin, Brett and Diccon came to join us, to auction a Jeroboam of finest Armenian Brandy and comment on the merits of the Armenian food they had made for the first time and which they would include on the Swan menu in future.

I lingered for one last look: candles still lit, scattered pomegranate rubies in the setting sun - the Armenian vision we had conjured up in Shakespeare's own Globe. I took hold of a menu and a tassel...garmir, gabuyd, narenchakuyn.
for the Armenian flag.
13th began with some 70 people
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The ‘Epic’ Representation of Fourth-Century Armenian Queens
By David Zakarian
21 November 2013, Armenian House
In the light of recent discussions of the role and position of women in Armenian society it has become essential to provide a scholarly evaluation of historical processes that shaped the present reality. This talk was a step in that direction and discussed the representations of the Armenian queens Parandzem and Zarmandukht as preserved in The Epic Histories attributed to P’awstos Buzand (5th c.). Zakarian’s analysis provided insights into the extent of power and independence that Armenian queens possessed in the male-centred society of Arsacid Armenia (63-428 AD).
Women and the Christianisation of Armenian Institute
By David Zakarian
20 February 2014, Armenian House
This talk explored the received tradition of the Christianisation of Armenian people as preserved in History of Armenia by Agathangelos. Although the author glorifies St Gregory as the founder of Armenian Christianity, his account is dependent on the agency of women and reveals the indispensable role that women played in the conversion of Armenian people. Armenian women are not only idealised female martyrs whose description is imbued with hagiographic conventions, but also ‘real’ ones whose representations provide valuable insights into the position of women in the early Christian period.
Artist’s Studio Visit: Edman O’Aivazian, Painter, Designer & Architect
23 March 2014
Born in Teheran into an Armenian family Edman O’Aivazian started painting at the age of 13. His paintings captured the richness of cultures, traditions and the architecture of past and present. His work culminated in the publication of An Armenian Village in 1984. In 1971 he moved to London via Rome, where he studied at the Academy of Arts. He has painted in oils, acrylic and watercolour. His work is founded on the need to understand nature though the ab- straction of form, light and colour. Edman O’Aivazian has exhibited widely around the world. He is a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Wapping Group of Artists. During the studio visit Edman spoke about the art of painting and his approach to creative arts.
Repatriation and Deception: post-WWII Soviet Armenia
By Hazel Antaramian
31 March 2014, Armenian House
In 2010, the artist began to document the Great Repatriation to Soviet Armenia by interviewing surviving repatriates, scanning their photographs, and conducting archival research in the United States and in Armenia. The lecture was delivered with image, music, and video, in a programme that presented the ethnographic history of the Armenian repatriates who left Diaspora countries to “return” after the Second World War to a Sovietised unknown Armenian homeland.
Love of the Heart: Mediaeval Armenian Poetry
Created by Jason Kouchak. With Shakeh Major Tchilingirian, Hagop Varoujian, Sonya Varoujian and Seta White 5 April 2014, St Sarkis Armenian Church,
Love of the Heart was a selection of mediaeval poetry and music whose content is as relevant today as in the past. The audience enjoyed mediaeval Poetry of the Heart both in the original Armenian and English to music and projected images. Original piano music was composed and performed by Jason Kouchak who was inspired by the symbolism of Armenian mediaeval poetry by Gregory of Narek, Constantine of Yerznka, Frik, Grigoris of Akhtamar and Nahapet Kouchak. Their words and literary symbolism are a search for harmony and humanity in our loves and lives. In reading their thoughts and their source of inspiration we recognise that though the flow of time passes the memories and light always remain and shine for us.
Return Through Art: Exploring Absence and Memory.
In collaboration with The Ottoman Cosmopolitanism Network 12 April 2014, Armenian House

An Ottoman Armenian themed workshop which explored aspects of the idea of a 'return' to the historical Ottoman space through art and artistic expression. Five informative papers were delivered on storytelling, filmmaking, photography, painting and creative writing
Dhimmis in Mediaeval Islam: Text and Context from the Arab Heartland, the Mediterranean and the Caucasus Symposium convened by Myriam Wissa
22 April 2014, Armenian House
In recent years, scholarship on Dhimmis – non-Moslem citizens of an Islamic state - has been characterised
by an ever-increasing range of publications. By bringing together several renowned scholars in the field and
new themes such as Dhimmi women, this symposium explored key aspects to assess the relationships
between Muslims and Christians from various geographic areas, namely the Mediterranean, the Arab Heartland and the Caucasus in early and mediaeval Islamic societies. This was also a good opportunity to assess the current state of the scholarship by reviewing its current larger theoretical implications, methodologies and research directions.

The Baronian Memorial in Knutsford, Cheshire
By Maria Graham
15 May 2014, Armenian House
Around three quarters of a million British servicemen were killed during the Great War. The feelings of shock, loss and grief felt by bereaved families were compounded by the absence of their loved ones’ bodies, a result of the ban on repatriation of the dead. In the absence of a local grave to visit and tend, most families commemorated their dead in some way.
Full body figurative sculpture was a popular form of civic memorialisation following the war, nearly always taking the form of anonymous men, archetypes or allegories. Public portrait sculpture remained the reserve of the famous or heroic and was not a genre connected with the ordinary man. The Knutsford War Memorial stands outside the Red Cross Headquarters, a short way from the town. A now largely forgotten fact within the local community is that it commemorates an individual of Armenian descent, the twenty-one year old Haron Baronian who was killed in Mesopotamia in 1917. This illustrated talk told the remarkable story of this unusual memorial and the family who commissioned it.
Tandzaparakh Monastic Complex, Syunik Region, Southern Armenia
With Ara Margarian and Collette Boardman – in association with Land and Culture Organisation
22 May 2014, Armenian House
The ancient woodland site known as ‘Tandzaparakh’ (pear tree meadow) in Armenia’s wild and beautiful Syunik region, has been home to a number of religious orders since the 5th century AD. Over the centuries, churches and chapels have been built and rebuilt. Many of the original stone carvings have survived and now feature in the most recent reconstruction – an 18th century monastic complex. A number of the walls and buildings of the complex still stand, but they are fast being reclaimed by the forest. A conservation team has already carried out considerable work to prevent further decay.
Choucas: An International Novel (1927) by Zofia Nałkowska (1884-1954)
With Ursula Phillips, translator
12 June 2014, Armenian House
Zofia Nałkowska (1884–1954) was one of the most outstanding Polish writers of the first half of the twentieth century. She is regarded as a pioneer of the psychological novel in Poland. Set in the Swiss Alps in the mid-1920s her novel Choucas reflects her experience of a sanatoria village in the mountains above Lake Geneva, where she stayed from Feb- ruary to April 1925, and the international community she encountered there, including Armenian survivors of the geno- cide placed there by the Swiss Red Cross. The characters’ conversations inspire the narrator’s reflections on nationalism, prejudice, war, revolution and violence in the period between the world wars. The novel takes its title from the Alpine birds that the narrator befriends and feeds on the balcony of her pension but which for others have a less benign symbol- ism.
Open House London: Armenian Church of St Sarkis
20 September 2014, Iverna Gardens
At the initiative of the Armenian Institute and with the kind permission of the Armenian Primate the church of St Sarkis formed part of Open House London. Londoners were given once again the opportunity to explore this unique Grade II* listed church designed by Arthur J Davis and Charles Mewes and built in 1923 through the benefaction of Calouste S Gulbenkian. This small and exotic building in Portland stone is closely remodelled on the bell tower in the 13th century monastery of Haghpat in Armenia.
Armenia's National Music: Komitas, Suni, and the East-West Division
With Karine Vann and Oxford Armenian Choir
24 September 2014, St Sarkis Armenian
Armenian Institute proudly presented the London debut of the Oxford Armenian Choir with a concert- lecture on the towering musical figure, Komitas and the lesser known but distinguished Grigor Mirzaian Suni. In the setting of St Sarkis Church the choir conducted by Marianna Asatryan performed their songs a capella and Karine Vann shared her musicological insights into the contrasting western and eastern compositions of Komitas and Suni which merged into the 20th century Soviet Armenian compositions.
Wrestling with Memory
By Jarosław Fret
28 September 2014, Armenian House
The Armenian Institute was privileged to welcome the renowned director of Teatr Zar, Jarosław Fret, in London with his company to perform Armine, Sister at Battersea Arts Centre. He spoke about his show dedicated to Armenian history and culture and the Armenian genocide and his work "to identify our place in relation to past generations and to understand who we are."
Jarosław Fret is founder and leader of the company founded on the physical theatre of Grotowski in Poland and the primacy of traditional music in drama. Working closely with Armenian mastersinger Murat Iclincala from St Gregory the Illuminator Church, Istanbul, Vahan Kerovpyan, drummer/ composer and Aram Kerovpyan, mastersinger at the Paris Armenian Cathedral and famous musicians from the region they deliver a powerful and haunting show.

Once a month the Armenian Institutes invites a distinguished guest to present his/her favourite Armenian film or a new film by an Armenian director or producer. After the screening, audience members have the opportunity to discuss the film over drinks and snacks in a comfortable lounge.
Each session starts with a short film to be followed by the main feature film or documentary, always subtitled in English.
Hasmik Gasparyan talent-scouted for AI at the Yerevan Golden Apricot Film Festival and brought back some new films. Hasmik, an award-winning filmmaker, came to the UK with a British Chevening Scholarship programme 2010-2011 at Goldsmiths College. She now lives and works as a freelance documentary filmmaker and photographer in Sheffield and presented her graduation film. Cinema Salon has attracted a new audience, film lovers including non- Armenians and young people. New films by London-based young Armenian film makers are welcomed and a salon will be dedicated to new work. Films may be sent to the Armenian Institute for selection.
15 January
Dedicated to the commemoration of Hrant Dink marking the 8th year since his murder on January 19th 2007. Umit Givanc's film about his trial and short films inspired by Hrant Dink will be screened and discussed.

New films forthcoming include:
'Donkeymentary', Arman Yeritsyan, BARS media
'The Abode' by Lusine Sargsyan (Ecumenical Jury prize at the Golden Apricot 2014)
'I am going to change my name' by Maria Sahakyan ( Armenian Panorama category winner at the Golden Apricot 2013)
Animation films by Nara Muradyan: 'Ballet', 'The Road', 'Poetry'
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Language courses at the Armenian Institute started not long after the founding of the Institute and counted the late David Miller, the first resident British ambassador to Armenia, amongst its first students. During his stint in the mid- ‘90s in Yerevan, Miller had picked up some Armenian and was eager to improve on it. The Institute continues to offer evening classes for adults in eastern and western variants of Armenian.
We have a team of dedicated teachers and students who keep each other entertained weekly. Sona Kalenderian teaches the beginner, intermediate and advanced courses of West Armenian while Gagik Stepan- Sarkissian instructs East Armenian. The students’ enthusiasm is contagious and teachers have been impressed with their eagerness to learn the language. All courses emphasise conversational skills alongside reading and writing simple texts. The Institute also offers bespoke private tuition to interested individuals.
Vicky Hougasian and Nathalie Griffith who have followed the language courses of the AI tell us their linguistic experience while they were in Armenia.
I grew up knowing that I was Armenian, however I did not grow up speaking the language at home. As I entered my 20s I started to search for a way to learn Armenian and I was so happy when I found the Armenian Institute (AI). The flexibility of the AI allowed me to learn Armenian whilst being in full-time employment.
I continued to study Western Armenian for around two and a half years gaining a good grounding in all four disciplines: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
This grounding was extremely valuable when I decided to resign from my job in London and go to Armenia and volunteer for approximately six months with Birthright Armenia.

The realisation then dawned on me that although I had a good knowledge of Western Armenian, I would now need to learn Eastern Armenian to communicate with the ‘Hayastantsis’.
For the first few months in Armenia it was challenging getting my head around Eastern Armenian. However, having this prior knowledge from the AI meant I could improve my language learning faster. It has also meant that although when I left Armenia I was by no means fluent, I was able to hold everyday conversations, debate cultural stereotypes, understand the storylines of plays and TV serials and also read and write more confidently. Now back in the UK, the Eastern variant is more natural to me than the Western. However, as my family speak the Western variant I would like to improve on that to make it the same standard as my Eastern. So it helps to know that I can come back to the AI and resume my Western studies here as well as continue improving my Eastern dialect with conversation classes and by keeping in touch with the new family and friends I made in Armenia.

Vicky Hougasian, Western Armenian course, 2011-2014
My mother is Armenian from Iran and I grew up listening to her speak this language with her sister and singing Armenian songs. At school and university I studied Latin languages. However, I knew I wanted a greater linguistic challenge so I turned to my mother’s languages and initially started learning Farsi. I was then encouraged to find a class in Armenian and this is when I discovered the Armenian Institute.
I’ve never forgotten my first class where for the first time the sounds and words I knew came to life and were given meaning. The approach taken was extremely effective as we gradually started reading and writing words in Armenian followed by grammatical structures and the “Golden Rules” of Armenian The emphasis on grammar allowed a more instinctive understanding of the language and meant we could start to say sentences in a more Armenian way.
Through these classes I made some good friends who told me about their projects to visit Armenia. I found out about the Armenian Volunteer Corps and decided to spend a month volunteering and living with a host family in Yerevan. All in all it was a fascinating, fulfilling and enriching experience I shall never forget! I continue to maintain contact with the Armenian community in London through AI events.
Nathalie Griffith , Eastern Armenian class, 2012-2014
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To mark the centenary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Armenian Institute, in cooperation with Yerevan-born, London-based cellist Alexander Chaushian, will be hosting a special concert in London in Summer 2015. The Centenary Concert will be held at the prestigious Wigmore Hall on July 12th 2015 and will present a programme of Armenian chamber music with Armenian soloists and their friends.
One hundred years after the Ottoman Empire undertook the enterprise of wiping out its Armenian population, there is today an independent Republic of Armenia and also a thriving diaspora spread across the globe.
The world-class soloists who will be performing on the 12th July include: Kim Kashkashianviola
Sergey Khachatryan
Lucine Khachatryan
Vahan Mardirossian
Levon Chilingirian
Sergey Babayan
Steven Isserlis
Alexander Chaushian
Yevgeny Sudbin
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