Category Archives: CULTURE

HRANT MATEVOSYAN’S YESTERDAY’S VIEW AND OUR TODAY – 2022-3

Summary

“Whoever Has Ears to Hear, Let Them Listen”

Diana H. Hambardzumyan

The main topic of the present article “Hrant Matevosyan’s Yesterday’s View And Our Today” (“Whoever Has Ears to Hear, Let Them Listen”) is a retrospective study of Hrant Matevosyan’s collection I Am Who I Am that includes the writer’s interviews given over more than two decades before his death.

The article aims at examining and summarizing all the difficulties and hindrances having risen before our nation during the previous three decades that Hr. Matevosyan had fairly and sincerely emphasized in his interviews. In a loving and caring tone talking about our country’s yesterday and today, even tomorrow, he revealed and analyzed our shortcomings, searched for the ways of restoring the security, the prosperous and progressive reality we once had. Based on the comprehensive examination of the direct text said by Hr. Matevosyan, this paper unearths the essence of his thoughts in a broader context of our country and the whole world at present.

We need to conclude: “Times are in the habit of not only following each other but repeating each other as well, and in all of this truth, what is disgraceful to all of us – to rational creatures, is not so much the eye[1]popping predictability of the repetition, as our abject insistence on not learning a lesson from all kinds of repeated tragedies of all times, as our failing laziness of not avoiding the repetition, more than that – as our short[1]minded improvidence or foolish inability of not being able to bend the repetitive to our advantage.”

ANALYSIS OF THE CASE OF ATTACK ON HOLY SAVIOR CATHEDRAL OF GHAZANCHETSOTS IN SHUSHI – 2022-2

Summary

From the point of view of international principles of protection of cultural property during war

Armine H. Tigranyan
Since the start of the war on September 27, 2020, the Azerbaijani armed forces have openly targeted the Armenian cultural heritage of Artsakh, violating not only its international obligations, imposed by various conventions, but also the generally accepted customary international norms for the protection of cultural heritage.

In this article, on the example of the shelling of the St. Ghazanchetsots Church in Shushi by Azerbaijan, an analysis of the principles of protecting cultural heritage during the war, military necessity, differentiation, prevention and proportionality is presented.

The international protection of cultural heritage from the dangers of war refers not only to the protection of territories occupied after armed conflict or in
peacetime, but also to not harming during the hostilities themselves. The problem is that despite the fact that cultural monuments are considered inviolable in time of war and their destruction by the enemy is not permissible, international law provides some counterarguments, therefore, as there are “permissible” rules that “legitimize” attacks on heritage during war.

Azerbaijan, referring to these norms, is trying to “justify” the attack on the Ghazanchetsots Church on October 8, 2020, even shifting the blame to the Armenian side.

The analysis of the four principles for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, considered in this article, led to the conclusion that the armed forces of Azerbaijan were obliged to ensure that the object to be attacked was not a cultural property, and would refrain from attacking the Ghazanchetsots Church and others values. Moreover, the principle has also become customary, according to which cultural heritage is the property of humankind, and regardless the fact of its origin, and religious and cultural significance, it must be protected. The Azerbaijani armed forces were required to take precautionary measures when attacking Ghazanchetsots, which would allow to remove the valuable objects of movable heritage, as well as to relocate people to a safe place.

It is obvious that Azerbaijan did not give advance warnings and required time before the start of the attack, which it was obliged to do in accordance with
customary international law or in accordance with the principles of The Second Hague Protocol of 1999 and the Geneva Convention, which it accepted as a nation state. Azerbaijan was obliged to assess in advance even the possible accidental damage to valuables, the loss of which could be much significant compared to the expected military advantage.

In addition, according to the laws of wartime, the principles of differentiation and proportionality were to be applied, which were also violated. In
this sense, the shelling of the church could not have been an urgent military necessity and the only way to be carried out at that time. And besides, it could not
provide Azerbaijan with such a military advantage that could adequately neutralize the criminal attack.

We can say with confidence that the destruction of the church, of course, could not give Azerbaijan any military benefit. Instead, its cultural overtones were
taken into account here, which was a blow to the Armenian identity since the damage to the cultural structure cannot be assessed only in terms of material
damage – internal ideological value is also important. With this step, Azerbaijan manifested intolerance towards the inalienable right to cultural rights, and that step was aimed at cultural alienation.

Two accurate blows inflicted by the armed forces of Azerbaijan on the dome of the church proved that this was a targeted attack. We can say with confidence that according to the Second Protocol to The Hague Convention of 1954, the attack is regarded as a war crime, where both the initiator and the perpetrator, as well as those who did not prevent it, are subject to criminal prosecution and can be condemned both at the international and national levels.

The Azerbaijani side still continues to deny the reality, even after the case of shelling of the Ghazanchetsots Church was recognized as an illegal attack motivated by intolerance and racial hatred and has already been condemned by the International Court of Justice in The Hague on December 7, 2021. Decisions
adopted in Strasbourg, No. 2391 “On the humanitarian consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” of PACE of September 27 and No. 2582 “On the destruction of the objects of cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh” of March 10, 2006, also characterized this attack as a part of an ongoing state policy based on deliberate illegal ethnic cleansing.

 

THE MINIATURE “CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST” – 2022-1

From the Momik’s manuscript of 1302

Inessa G. Danielyan
Momik is one of the most famous, multitalented masters of Armenian medieval art (architect, sculptor, painter). The miniatures of the manuscript of 1302 (Matenadaran named after Mesrop Mashtots, No. 6792) are considered his best paintings. The article deals with the iconographic and stylistic features of the illustration “The Crucifixion of Christ”.

For depiction of the theme master Momik used the ancient laconic iconographic scheme with images of the Crucified Christ, the Mother of God and the Apostle John, which has been widely known in the Christian world since the 7th-8th centuries. Momik’s miniature depicted symbols and gestures, such as the hands of the Mother of God, covered under maforia, a cross-star on her forehead, the meaning of which has deep, still pre-Christian origin.

The style and iconography of this miniature evokes some associations with Byzantine art of the Palaeologan period, especially with an icon from the early 14th century from Ohrid. This icon also presents a simple iconographic version of the theme and like Momik’s miniature, the Mother of God is filled with sorrow and pain – unable to look at her died son on the cross. There is a certain commonality in the construction of the composition of these two artworks.

Some researchers noted a certain connection between the miniatures of the master Momik and the medieval theater. It is more clearly demonstrated in the scene of the Crucifixion.

The miniature “The Crucifixion of Christ” reveals some technical features of making of the manuscript. Under the erased layer of paint is outlined a sketch of another miniature – the scene of “Baptism of Christ”. These two scenes are presented on the same parchment bifolio, but on the fol. 4a page is depicted “The Baptism of Christ” and the Crucifixion is on the fol. 8a. Thus, the master made sketches before sewing and binding the bifolios, and then however finding the wrong arrangement of the scenes, he “hid” the wrong drawing under a layer of paint.

In conclusion, it might be stated that this miniature, like his other works, is distinguished by its simplicity of forms, but at the same time they have a deep sacred content. The artist Momik conveyed to the viewer all the emotionally sensual notes of the depicted, using the correct selection of colors, facial expressions of the characters and distorted proportions. The chosen iconographic scheme and details of the miniature emphasize its deep theological content.

THE ILLUSTRATIONS OF CILICIAN HANDWRITTEN BIBLES IN THE 1250-1350s – 2021-4

Ovsanna P. Keshishyan
Handwritten Bibles, created in Cilician Armenia, play a crucial role in the
artistic decoration of the Armenian-language Bible. Cilicia plays a paramount role
not only in the illustration of handwritten Armenian Bibles, but also, first of all, in
their first full edition, made by Catholicos Nerses Lambronatsi at the end of the
12th century (1153-1198).

Before the creation of the first Bible in the Armenian language that has
reached us (Bible from Yerznka, 1269, Jerusalem N 1925), the first full
replications of complete Bibles had already started in Cilicia, which, unfortunately,
have not been preserved.

The role of the activity of the school of Archbishop Hovhannes – the
brother of King Hetum I, formed in the second half of the 13th century, is
especially invaluable in the formation of the illustration system of handwritten
Bibles. In the manuscripts, created here in the 1260-70s (Matenadaran N N 4243,
345), the almost completely formed illustration system of Cilician Bibles can
already be seen, which becomes a basis for further biblical illustrations not only in
Cilicia, but also in Armenia itself. To a certain degree, they carry the influence of
the Byzantine book art.

The Latin influence increases in the period after the activities of
Archbishop Hovhannes. Among biblical manuscripts carrying this influence are
Bibles of 1295 (Matenadaran N 180) and N 179 of King Hetum II, copied by writer
Stepanos Goyneritsants, where chapter separation is carried out with both
Armenian and Franc numeration systems cuncurrently.

In the 14th century, the Cilician Bibles enter a new stage. The manuscript
style changes, leaning more towards the national, geometrically flat-figure
direction, at the same time, a new creative approach can be seen. Sargis Pitsak
plays a significant role in the creation of Cilician biblical miniatures of the period.

Among the manuscripts illustrated by him, interesting is the Bible N
1508/1 (Venice), where, among the decorations of Psalms and Genesis title pages,
we can see the busts of coronary king David and God-Father, rare here.

Another unique Cilician Bible is kept in Hermitage (VP-1011). In the first
part of Bible miniatures we can see Moses’s illustrations, and in the further parts –
Old Testament kings, the illustrations of whose majority appear for the first time.

THE MECHANISMS FOR PROTECTION OF TANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE ARMENIANS OF ARTSAKH – 2021-3

In the modern international legal system

Summary

Armine H. Tigranyan
In the course of its false quest to build a national identity and prove its territorial affiliation, Azerbaijan /since its inception/ has pursued a sharply anti- Armenian state policy based on the continuous destruction of Armenian identity and rich cultural heritage during both – the pseudo “peace” and the war. During all the wars in Artsakh, Azerbaijan continuously damages and destroys Armenian cultural values, thus violating a number of international provisions. The recent war has confirmed that Azerbaijan’s “territorial aspirations” are not an end in itself; they are based on the alienation and destruction of Armenian identity and heritage.

This article presents the international legal principles for protection of the cultural heritage (hereinafter referred to as CH) in the occupied territories from the point of view of cases of destruction, appropriation, desecration and vandalism of Armenian cultural property in the territories occupied by Azerbaijan after the Second Artsakh War (November 9, 2020).

The article begins with a historical overview, presents the gradual formation and development of the international legal field for protection of CH in the occupied territories after the war, as well as a number of conventional provisions from Hague Convention, Geneva Convention, UNESCO, the Council of Europe from the point of view of international human rights documents, norms of international humanitarian law and the laws that are customary for protection of cultural values in the occupied territories. This expertise also refers to the analysis of a clear program of the state policy of Azerbaijan on deliberate destruction of the Armenian identity and cultural heritage and summarizes the investigation of specific cases of destruction of Armenian cultural values, appropriations of heritage and desecrations by Azerbaijan after the war.

And since the protection of cultural values in the occupied territories is an internationally recognized norm, which is mandatory for all states, however Azerbaijan continues to violate and damage the Armenian cultural values. Azerbaijan continues to perceive the heritage from its own socio-cultural point of view and what is outside of their “value system” is considered as a subject for destruction. Along with values of great historical significance, the values created not long ago are also being destroyed in the territories of Artsakh occupied by Azerbaijan, the loss of which is equal to the destruction of historical ones.

The cultural heritage of the Armenians of Artsakh, as the materialized (and nonmaterialized) expression of exclusive creative thoughts of a given community, as well as a collective manifestation of the identity, has the full right to be preserved and passed on to future generations. This right is enshrined by UNESCO, UN and by the international humanitarian law and is considered as a fundamental right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however along with all this, it still continues to be destroyed, both physically and by the loss or alienation of the bearing communities.

And in fact, the study of this article shows that the most important factor in protecting the cultural heritage of Artsakh /along with numerous conventions on protection of cultural values in occupied territories/, is the right to protect the cultural heritage of Artsakh as such, being a fundamental human right enshrined in a number of international treaties, especially in international humanitarian law. And within this context, even if Azerbaijan cannot find any values in order not to destroy the heritage outside of its value system, the latter is obliged to do so, because that heritage is a part of the world cultural diversity and is the fundamental right of the culture (personal/community) of the Armenians of Artsakh.

 

THE MECHANISMS FOR PROTECTION OF INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE ARMENIANS OF ARTSAKH – 2021-1

In the modern international legal system

Armine H. Tigranyan

This article introduces the urgent need for legal protection of Artsakh’s intangible cultural heritage during the war. It highlights that the international conventions and other legal systems protecting the cultural heritage during armed conflicts perform their function only partially and not in a direct way. This article identifies the crossroads where the intangible heritage is transformed to the cultural right of community members and finds its protection in the international human rights system.

The second Artsakh war provoked by Azerbaijan, qualified as an ethnic/cultural cleansing, was primarily aimed at the destruction of the identity of Armenians of Artsakh. It was characterized not only by the obvious targeting of material heritage of Artsakh, but also targeted the intangible cultural heritage of the Armenians of Artsakh – the national rituals, customs, knowledge and skills, ideas, crafts, etc.

We should note that if the damage caused to the tangible heritage is obvious in most cases, the intangible heritage is in danger of its overall extinction and it is
impossible to assess its damage. The protection of intangible cultural heritage during conflicts is very important, as it provides the communities with a sense of identity and continuity, the destruction of which threatens the existence of the community itself. The most vulnerable target of the cultural heritage during war is the intangible heritage, as it is damaged in both cases whether the target is the civilian population and the communities are displaced (the intangible heritage is revealed through its bearers), or whether the material heritage is damaged. Thus, the protection of intangible heritage during conflicts becomes important not only in terms of preserving the element of heritage itself, but also in terms of preserving the cultural identity of the communities and groups that use it.

During and after the war the cultural rights of many communities in Artsakh were violated by Azerbaijan, many of them were and will be deprived of the
opportunity to use and pass on their intangible experience to future generations. This can damage their identity, endanger the continuity and future of the community and since most of the Armenians of Artsakh during and after the war stop acting according to their intangible cultural heritage, this heritage loses its vitality and is doomed to disappear. So the protection becomes even more important in this context.

During and after the war the cultural rights of many communities in Artsakh were violated by Azerbaijan, many of them were and will be deprived of the
opportunity to use and pass on their intangible experience to future generations. This can damage their identity, endanger the continuity and future of the community and since most of the Armenians of Artsakh during and after the war stop acting according to their intangible cultural heritage, this heritage loses its vitality and is doomed to disappear. So the protection becomes even more important in this context.

AVETIS AHARONYAN’S “NAZE’S LULLABY” IN FOLK MUSIC – 2020-4

Summary

Ani S. Akopyan
It is known that the Armenian folk (traditional) song has three main directions: peasant, urban folklore and the art of gusans and ashugs (folk troubadours). These directions, being a product of the Armenian people, at the same time differ from each other in the degree of their tradition, the logic of melodic thinking, the scale of sound, character and other indicators. It is well known that Komitas, the founder of Armenian musical folklore, studied mainly peasant music.

The fact is that the cities built at the crossroads of human civilization, as trade and economic centers, were more “diverse”, multinational in terms of demography, which implies appropriate creativity.

We initially had a goal, at least at this stage, to study lullabies of exclusively peasant origin. Thus, the popular “Naze’s Lullaby” with the author’s text and an obvious urban type of melody, until the revelation of a new peasant version, remained outside the scope of our interests. In the article, based on this new version and other sources, we put forward the thesis, according to which the famous lullaby, popular among the people for about 100 years as the author’s poem by Avetis Aharonyan, actually has a national origin.

Thus, the importance of our little research is not only the presence of a newly discovered unique version of the peasant song of a popular verse, but also a very interesting hypothesis that the poem is actually not the author’s, but an example of traditional folklore. It is also important that with the help of Aharonyan’s literary development, this verse was disseminated and musically “rebuilt” in the urban environment, which was often sung around the cradle of an Armenian child for almost a century.

AN UNPUBLISHED FOUR GOSPELS FROM THE COLLECTION OF ORLANDO CALUMENO – 2020-3

And its connections with the art of Hakob Jughayetsi

Emma L. Chookaszian
Orlando Carlo Calumeno’s archive, located in Istanbul, Turkey, is known for the largest collection of Ottoman postcards and panoramas in the world. The Armenian medieval manuscripts are an important part of this private collection and our study is dedicated to one of them. Kept in Istanbul’s “Birzamanlar” gallery owned by O. C. Calumeno, this manuscript is distinguished by its simple yet very important illustrations, that we are going to reveal. The manuscript is a Four Gospels and its dimensions are 16 x 22 x 9cm.

“THE TEMPLE” BY ARA GHAZARYAN – 2020-1

Dedicated to the Memory of Leonardo da Vinci

Summary

Shushanik G. Zohrabyan-Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Arts
The theme of the composition, the search of his own ways in art are quite clearly expressed in the oeuvre of jeweller, engraver Ara Ghazaryan. Ara Ghazaryan’s art is in touch with the Armenian and fine arts in general. This is where the vivid imagination, simplicity and immediacy of his worldview originate. When starting a new artwork, he elaborates on the sketch, finding the appropriate silhouette and layout, achieving a complete acquistion of form and content.

Such is the composition entitled “Temple” (2019), which is distinguished by its artistic features and technical qualities, whose unique form of composition derives from its content. It consists of 108 pieces, made of 18 and 22-carrat gold and silver “Argentium”. Armenian apricot wood has also been used. The height of the “Temple” is 108 mm and the width is 45 mm. Ara Ghazaryan has performed the artistic processing of his artwork by enameling, using partitioning, relief and ornamental methods. The four sides and the top of the dome are crowned with red rubies and three rows with 18 encrusted diamonds in each row, represented in Ghazaryan’s favourite shapes, octagonal and round. The dome also has 18 windows. The harmonious choice of colors is made with the relations of red, blue, green, and gold.
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Ara Ghazaryan’s worldview is reflected not only in his creative expressions and means, but also in their significance and application. Ghazaryan has covered the temple with glass, and placed a microscope under the dome, which allows you to see the smallest chessboard in the world. His own creation, included in the Guinness Book of World Records (2017; 6.5 gram, 15.3×15.3 mm dimensions) made of 18K white and yellow gold and Brazilian cherry wood. The biggest of the chess pieces are the King and the Queen (each 4.8 mm, with diamond removable crowns), and the smallest are the soldiers (2.3 mm each). Four more diamonds lie at the base of the chess board.

Ara Ghazaryan has placed the “Temple” in a hand, drawn in the shape of a unique ornament and graphically delineated with fine lines of Mount Ararat (made of silver “Argentium” and placed on lapis lazuli stone), which has become a unique pedestal for the “Temple”.

He made what is considered to be the most complex and technically very variable part of the human body. Ara Ghazaryan delivers a powerful message to the viewer. The hand is not here just as the main tool of creation, but also as an important focus of representation, which has an esthetic and symbolic contents. The power in the hand is the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy. For Ara this is the Hand which creates miracles since the beginning of human history and gives it to civilizations. We can also say that with this Hand Ara Ghazaryan also pays tribute to Leonardo da Vinci.

The thematic-compositional artworks are the vivid expressions of the clear thinking, style, artistic language of Ara Ghazaryan. Each of his created item becomes a miracle of handmade work, not just an object, but also a spirit or character that has an amazing emotional impact on the viewer.

WEDDING CEREMONIAL CYCLES OF DEDICATION INTO GROOM AND BRIDE – 2020-2

On the materials of the collections by Komitas and Mihran Toumajan

Summary

Hripsime V. Pikichyan-Candidate of Sciences in History
The article discusses the ceremonies described and notated in the collections of Komitas and Mihran Toumajan, Komitas’s adherent. Songs and dances, performed at the ceremony of decorating of the groom (the so-called Takvoragovk, Թագվորագովք, praising of the king), and the bride (the so-called Tsakhkots, Ծաղկոց) that includes bathing, henna ceremony, dressing, headdress, greeting, visiting the shrine, dowry praising and introducing the bride into the community, and subsequent farewell to the parental home and crossing the threshold. They are combined with musical, poetic and dance texts that are indispensable components of the wedding ceremony. It is to be singled out that like other rites passages, these ritual sequences begin with ritual purification. They end with the introducing the newlyweds to the higher cosmic forces/to the Most High and to the community.

The ritual events associated with the transformation of the groom and the bride are repeated and affirmed at the three main levels of the wedding ceremony with certain modifications. The first represents the introduction of the newlyweds to the community after the decorating, praising and greeting in order to gain the community’s blessing. The second is the church wedding ceremony while symbolizing the introduction of the king and the queen to the Creator, to receipt His blessing. The third takes place at dawn, when the newlyweds appear before the rising Sun to receipt its blessing.

At the semantic, symbolic, musical and poetic levels of the Tagvoragovk – the king – the first man – the cosmic tree – the cosmogonic order is emphasized. Meanwhile, in the ceremony of Tsakhkots such interpretation is not as definite. Accordingly, the ceremony of initiation of the groom-king involves the largest number of participants: all family members, male and female relatives, and proxi could participate at various ceremonies. As for the ceremonies associated with the bride, they were more limited; heterogeneity and a large number of participants are unusual for them (the participants are the godfather’s wife, the governess, the priest’s wife, and the female friends). The participation of men was prohibited, with the exception of the henna ceremony.

The cosmogonic roots of the rituals symbolizing the transfiguration of the bride and the groom mark various allegories and concepts found in their musical and poetic texts, associated with the interrelations between the cosmic models and elements (the sun and the moon and the stars, the day and the night, floral and fruit symbols/codes). This is also true regarding the distinctive topics of those ceremonies, as well as the characteristic question and answer structure resembling that of riddles (songs performed during shaving, dressing, the erection of the wedding tree, as well as describing the participants of the ceremony) and the performance style (a group-soloist dialogue). In the praising of the groom recorded by both Komitas and Toumajan, the influence of certain formal structures characteristic of epic and sacred songs is noticeable. This influence is available in “man – professional musical culture” interconnection, along with “woman – folk song – nature” associations which correlates with the existing in traditional culture ideas about the functions and roles of men and women.

One of the components of the traditional wedding in different provinces of historical Armenia was the visiting ancestor’s graves by the groom-king, the groomsmen, the godfather, the priest, and the musicians. In this way, the worship ancestors (existing in the traditional Armenian culture) was reaffirmed along with the idea of patrilineal continuity of the household. Meanwhile, the visit of the bride-queen and her female friends to the nearest sanctuary must be regarded within the context of the traditional approach to a woman’s role and her responsibility in maintaining the Christian life in the new family.

It may be stated that the rituals of the transfiguration of the groom-king and the bride-queen recorded by Komitas and Toumajan are very valuable not only in the terms of documenting and analyzing of the Armenian musical heritage, but also as a model, which demonstrates the function and the role of a man and a woman in traditional culture and in the mythological perception of the creation of the world.