A Comparative Examination of the Activities of Armenian and Persian Pioneers in Ethnography and Philology


Anahit I. Yahyamasihi
Ethnography and folkloristics as science formed in Armenia in the early 19th century and relatively late in the early 20th century in Iran and found their place in the cultural and art system. Garegin Srvandztiants and Sadegh Hedayat have their permanent place in Armenian and Persian literature.

Along with folklore studies, they traveled and focused on their native land, people’s lifestyle, beliefs, customs and traditions, spoken language, behavior and habits.

The Srvandztiants-Hedayat parallels show that literary critics of two different nations and faiths shared the same ideas, style, thinking, and taste in the field of collection of folklore.

Their literary talents had been revealed since their years of adolescence as they struggled vigorously against their own and foreign oppressors.

Srvandztiants’ and Hedayat’s greatest service was the organization of the collection of folklore – the popular word, and the effort to put it on a scientific basis. They were so profound in folklore and ethnography that they introduced them to the field of their artistic compositions. Their prose was just overflowed with people’s folklore.

G. Srvandztiants, with his collections “Written and Oral Compositions” (“GrotsBrots”), “The Door of David of Sasoon and Mher”, “About the Old and New” (“Hnots and Norots”), “Manana”, “With Taste and Smell” (“Hamov-Hotov”), presented himself as a profound researcher thus establishing the Armenian ethnographicscholarly teaching. And after the publication of Hedayat’s works of “Osane” (“Fairy Tale”) and “Neyrangestan” (“The Land of Wonders”), studies of ethnography and folklore gained new momentum in Iran.

Not only were the folklorists diligently involved in the study of folklore, they also encourag ed their close ones to be supportive and to cooperate. By their exhortation, many materials were saved from loss, and many researchers began to engage in folkloristic work. It should be emphasized that with their services, G. Srvandztiants and S. Hedayat, became the teachers of many in the field of respectively the Armenian and Iranian ethnography and folkloristics.

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