Kayseri, Pinarbasi, Gergeme
Posted 02 March 2007 - 08:49 AM
The following is from Classical Armenian Digital Library on line.
As my mastery of the grabar is limited my poor attempt of translation follows.
Below is an excerpt from the above site in the Geography section.
It is one of the travelogues by Simeon Lehatsi. Lehatsi means Polish.
Siemon Lehats, aka Simeon Zamosatsi and Simeon Mikalyovski, 1584-1637. Writer, poet, traveler and dbir of the church. Was born to a family that had moved to Lehastan (Poland). Traveled in Europe and the ME during 1608-19. His travelogoues cover many cities in Europe and the esst such as Venice, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo et al. and last but not least, villages and towns of historical Armenia.
This is about Kesaria.
Եւ անտի բազում գեղօրէիւք եւ լերամբք հասաք ի
Կեսարիա մայրաքաղաքն, որ ունի երկու պարիսպ, ներսի
խորագէտք եւ բանաստեղծք եւ առակախօսք, կատակարարք եւ
ուրախացուցիչք. ապա ներկողք են։
Այլ եւ Վարդապետն ունէր մեծ էգի որպէս քաղաք. եւ անդ
Numerous orchards and vineyards surround the city where it reported to be seven different varietis of grape. They took us to the orchards almost every day where we were fed with the most deliciuos food and drinks. The people are very generous and hospitable. THey are alos very eloquent, pleasant spoken and creative, they would entertain us with poetry, songs, jokes and stories.
The Vardapet owned a large vineyard. He would entertain us on many occasions. It is rumored that his vineyard has twelve varieties of grapes. Fixed the font - nairi
Some time ago we talked about Simeon Lehatsi, aka Simeone of Poland.
George Bournoutianís work is soon to be available in English
Posted 28 December 2015 - 11:16 AM
Boston Globe, MA
Dec 26 2015
Going home again
Visiting the land where his Armenian great-grandfather was a troubadour
By Chris Bohjalian Globe correspondent December 26, 2015
KAYSERI, Turkey ' My wife and I are holding small candles, the yellow
flames as thin as the tapers, above a wrought iron sand table at the
Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Kayseri. Kayseri is a
Turkish city 200 miles southeast of Ankara with a population nearing a
million. It's not a part of Turkey where most American tourists
venture. Usually when we think Turkey and tourism, we envision the
mosques of Istanbul or the beaches of Bodrum. We imagine the Roman
ruins in Ephesus. I've never been to either Bodrum or Ephesus; the
last time I was in Istanbul, it was for a friend's wedding. Instead I
journey to places like Kayseri. Why? Because I am Armenian and that's
where my family once lived.
Saint Gregory's is one of a small handful of Armenian churches in
Turkey outside of Istanbul that are not rubble or ruins, or have not
been repurposed into a museum, mosque or (in one case) a fitness
center. There is no longer an Armenian congregation in Kayseri, but
sporadically ' once or a twice a year ' descendants of the church's
parishioners who live in Istanbul journey here to worship. I'm not
part of that Istanbul community, but my grandfather, Levon Nazareth
Bohjalian, was born in Kayseri. It's likely that he was baptized in
this church. It was built in 1856, and named after the man who was
raised in this corner of Anatolia and who would bring Christianity to
Armenia in the year 301. There is no priest in the city to let us in '
virtually no Armenians live in Kayseri ' but one of the locals knows
someone who knows someone who knows the caretaker who has a key.
This is my third trip in three years with my friend Khatchig
Mouradian, a genocide scholar and journalist, to the great swath of
Turkey that is Historic Armenia. The area stretches from the Black Sea
to the Mediterranean, and from Ankara to Turkey's Syrian, Iraqi,
Iranian, Armenian, and Georgian borders. It is the eastern half of
Turkey. It is Anatolia. It is Cilicia. And up until 1915, it was where
the majority of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire lived.
This year marked the centennial of the start of the Armenian Genocide:
it was April 24, 1915, when the Armenian intellectuals, professionals,
editors, and religious leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by
the Ottoman authorities ' and almost all of them executed. During the
First World War, the Ottoman Empire would systematically annihilate
1.5 million of it Armenian citizens, or three out of every four. Most
Armenians alive today are descendants of those few survivors '
including me. Both of my grandparents were survivors.
It is actually my great-grandfather, however, that I associate most
with Kayseri. Nazaret Bedros Bohjalian, Levon's father, was a
nineteenth-century troubadour and poet. Although he was born in
Kayseri, he performed in such distant corners of the empire as
Jerusalem and Constantinople, singing the poems he had penned. Based
on one account of his life in an old Armenian history of Kayseri, I
imagine him as a sort of Bruce Springsteen of the Anatolian Plains. He
may not have had stadium-sized crowds or rock 'n' roll T-shirts, but
it seems that he had enthusiastic audiences wherever he appeared.
Among his works? A seventy-quatrain epic of the Hamidian Massacres '
the prequel to the Armenian Genocide named after Sultan Abdul Hamid II
in which 250,000 Armenians were butchered. On Nov. 18, 1895, the
slaughter came to his city:
`They killed infidels with axes, daggers, and didn't ask who you were,
whether merchant or coolie.'
`They took the babies out of the wombs of their mothers, and those who
witnessed lost their minds.'
It is a wrenching, eyewitness testimonial.
Few Armenians remain in Turkey today, outside of the 60,000 or so who
live in Istanbul. You want to see the definition of ethnic cleansing?
Visit Historic Armenia. You will find Islamized Armenians here and
there, the descendants of the Armenians who were forced to become
Muslim a century ago, and there is a tiny community of 200 Armenians
in Vakifli Koy, one of the six villages on the mountain of Musa Dagh
on the Mediterranean Sea. They are descendants of the men and women
Franz Werfel made famous in his epic novel of the Armenian resistance
to the Genocide in 1915, `The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.' Otherwise,
however, it's rare to find an Armenian.
And yet our footprints are everywhere. Medieval churches. Ancient
monasteries. Armenian lettering carved onto village walls or
century-old doors. I've visited at least 45 different Armenian
churches and monasteries, most empty shells and some little more than
foundations. Often the ruins have piles of empty soda cans and water
bottles, and black fire pits from recent campfires. Occasionally,
there are deep holes where treasure hunters have dug up the floor in
search of mythical Armenian gold. Usually there is graffiti.
Sometimes the Kurds who live in the area now will share the horrors of
how the Armenians were killed or deported, the stories passed down
from generation to generation, and sometimes they will tell you that
the Armenians simply moved away. They pick a year seemingly at random,
but always before 1915. We left, they insist, only because we wanted
to be near our families in Aleppo, Syria, or Boston.
And now, of course, with the region so volatile, the Kurds will often
share stories of more recent horrors. The day before I was in
Sanliurfa, Turkey, this summer, ISIS suicide bombers detonated five
trucks filled with explosives in Kobani, Syria, 20 miles from
Sanliurfa as the crow flies, killing at least 70 Kurds. Two weeks
later in nearby Suruc, Turkey, ISIS killed 33 young Kurdish volunteers
' and injured well over 100 ' as they prepared to drive to Kobani to
help rebuild the city.
Regardless of how you look at the history, however, the 500,000
Armenians who survived the Genocide were never able to return home.
It's why we are a diaspora people. Of the 10 million Armenians in the
world today, fewer than 3 million of us actually live in Armenia.
A wall surrounding the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Kayseri.
A wall surrounding the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Kayseri.
Which brings me back to Kayseri.
Which explains why I keep returning to Historic Armenia, despite the
It's my ancestral land.
In the mid-1920s, my grandfather traveled to Paris to meet Haigouhi
Sherinian, and there they would fall in love and marry. In 1927 he
brought her to the United States. The following year, he built the
beautiful brick monolith in Tuckahoe, N.Y., where they would raise
their children and reside for 40 years.
My father grew up in a house that could only be called exotic by the
standards of that particular suburb of New York City. Everyone spoke
Armenian behind those brick walls. And so like many daughters and sons
of immigrants, my father chose to become as American as he possibly
could. He even became that most iconic of mid-20th-century American
business professionals, an ad man. A mad man. Think Don Draper. That's
how extensive his reinvention was. And so other than the time I would
spend with my grandparents, I did not grow up a part of the Armenian
community or with a connection to my Armenian heritage. (The one
exception? Our dining room. My Swedish mother figured out quickly that
Armenian cuisine is delicious.)
Consequently, it was only at midlife that I felt a deep and relentless
tug at my Armenian soul to return. This is, I have come to understand,
the ground where the Bohjalians and the Sherinians once built their
lives. My grandfather was the youngest of my great-grandfather's six
children, and he was born only a few years before Nazaret Bedros would
die in 1902. I will never know precisely which of the Bohjalians left
Kayseri after the Hamidian Massacres in 1895 and which would be shot
or marched into the desert to die a generation later. Was it within
blocks of St. Gregory's that my grandfather saw the Armenian men
killed with axes and daggers? Was it on a nearby block that he
witnessed the babies being cut from the wombs of their mothers? Did he
himself lose a little of his own mind that day?
The fact is, Kayseri is a home that was taken from my family. It is
that injustice ` what my non-Armenian wife calls the `sheer unfairness
of it' ` that draws me back. It's my small way of saying to anyone who
happens to notice, the Bohjalians are still here. Still around. You
didn't quite wipe us out. I always feel acutely alive in Historic
Armenia, as if some otherwise napping ` untapped even ` link in my DNA
has been awakened and found its tether to the land.
Could I actually live there? Of course not. My last name alone would
make me a pariah in parts of the region, and most of the time I am
deeply proud to be an American. I have been (thank you very much)
quite happily spoiled by the American way of life. It's really hard to
find Ben & Jerry's or binge-watch `House of Cards' in Diyarbakir,
Kayseri, or Van.
But I also can't imagine not returning to visit.
After my wife and I had murmured our small prayers at the church in
Kayseri and placed the candles in the sand, she said to me, `You're
breathing the same air your grandfather breathed as a little boy.'
I nodded. She had put into words precisely why I was here. It's not
coming home precisely ` but it is without question a homecoming.
Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books. His new novel, `The Guest
Room,' will be published on Jan. 5. He can be reached at
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