Monday, 4 February 2008

Sourp Magar, Armenian Monastery: Armenian graffiti

I have quite a few photographs from the ruined Armenian Monastery of Saint Makarios (Sourp Magar)*, most of which are general character shots, to give a feel of the place now. Quite a few of the other photographs show graffiti, too, but the two below show some that was unique in the complex (as far as I could tell as I explored, though I didn't examine every wall).

As far as I can tell it's the same word and I think it's Armenian, but, not knowing Armenian, I'm not sure if it is (some of the letters resemble Russian's "r", "sh'ch" and "ch" [that would make sense, as both the Armenian alphabet and the Russian Cyrillic were in part derived from the Greek]) and I don't know what it means. I don't know whether it's a "secular" tag, a devotional writing (for the author or for another for whom they were praying) or something completely different.





If anybody knows, I'd be most grateful to hear.

[Updated on the 4th of February 2008.]

Danielbeast commented that:
The first one appears to say Ara...g. Not sure what fourth letter (or combination or two) is.
The first letter is definitely a capital A. The second one appears to be an r with a flourish on the end, not used to that so not sure if it's supposed to mean anything else or not. The third letter should be a lower case a. Fourth letter looks like an e to me, however once again there's a flourish on the end so not sure if that's meant to be something else beyond it or not. Two vowels in a row are very rare if not unheard of in Armenian so that confuses me. The last letter should be a g. I am not sure if the ayp-ee-g combination is supposed to make a different sound but "Ara-eeg" would not be an Armenian word so I don't know what's wrong. You can compare the letters to the alphabet here, but I'm pretty sure I read the letters correctly. So then what is the problem with the word...
[Updated on the 25th of January 2011]

In comments below, Sumitra Keghouie Spencer was been kind enough to tell how,
My great grandfather Hagop Guzelian, he was the caretaker of the monastery from the 1930's until around 1960.
My Great grandfather lived in monastery with his wife Martha and their 6 childern, One if which was my grandmother Hegenay.
Sumitra, if you ever do visit this page again, I am still interested in the monastery, and would be very happy to add any information or stories you want. I hope you do visit again, because someone who must be a relative just posted this:
Hi sumitra my grandmother was Martha Guzelian and grandfather Hagop Guzelian. My mother Mariam Guzelian (mary) was one of her daughters, my mother has now passed. I was told that they lived at this monastery as caretakers from 1927 - ?
* Also known as Ayios Makarios, Armenomonastero, Armenomonastiro, Armenomonastiron, the Blue Convent, Ermeni Manastırı, Magaravank; Makaravank; Prophitis Elias, St. Machaire, St. Macarius, St. Makarios and Sourp Makar; it is in the Kyrenia Mountains, near Kythrea.

11 comments:

  1. I'm not great at reading Armenian but I can recognize the letters.
    The carving is written in a flourishy way

    The first one appears to say Ara...g. Not sure what fourth letter (or combination or two) is.
    The first letter is definitely a capital A. The second one appears to be an r with a flourish on the end, not used to that so not sure if it's supposed to mean anything else or not. The third letter should be a lower case a. Fourth letter looks like an e to me, however once again there's a flourish on the end so not sure if that's meant to be something else beyond it or not. Two vowels in a row are very rare if not unheard of in Armenian so that confuses me. The last letter should be a g. I am not sure if the ayp-ee-g combination is supposed to make a different sound but "Ara-eeg" would not be an Armenian word so I don't know what's wrong. You can compare the letters to the alphabet here, but I'm pretty sure I read the letters correctly. So then what is the problem with the word...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cheers, Daniel. I've got my fingers crossed that someone will look at them and say quick as a flash, "ah, that's blablabla!"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi My name is Sumitra keghouie spencer. My great grandfather Hagop Guzelian, he was the caretaker of the monastery from the 1930's until around 1960.
    My Great grandfather lived in monastery with his wife Martha and their 6 childern, One if which was my grandmother Hegenay. If your still intertested in the monastery, i can speak with my grandmother and ask her about the writing you found and anything else you may want to know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sumitra, My grandfather was Hagop Guzelian. His son, my Uncle Magar Guzelian and now died. He was named after the monastery.
      My mother Miriam who is now deceased is your grandmothers sister. Hope you reply to this.

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  4. Always interested! :o)

    That would be great.

    If you want to exchange e-mails, this page has a link to my e-mail address.

    Thank you very much Sumitra.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi sumitra my grandmother was Martha Guzelian and grandfather Hagop Guzelian. My mother Mariam Guzelian (mary) was one of her daughters, my mother has now passed. I was told that they lived at this monastery as caretakers from 1927 - ?

    ReplyDelete
  6. HI Sumitra my grandmother was Martha Guzelian and grandfather Hagop Guzelian.My mother lily was the youngest of the six children ,My mother passed away in 1989. My uncle Max as we call him his real name is Magar Guzelian he was born at the monastery. My grandfather and grandmother name him after the monastery.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It must be "Magaravang"..
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    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Sumitra, My grandfather / grandmother was also Hagop (Agon) and Martha Guzelian, my father Kevork now passed away was the eldest of the children, he also was born in Sourp Makaravank. There children's names in order- Kevork, Abraham, Mary, Helen, Magar and Lily.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sumitra,
      My Grandfather was also the caretaker of Sourp Magar monastery. The Guzelian family took over from my grandfather. As a child I remember Heghine, one of the daughters of Agoun. Kevork Guzelian was a very good friend of my father. Every year I used to spend my summers at the monastery. Those were the days!

      Delete
  9. I'm delighted that everybody is still sharing their histories here. It's nice to imagine the place in happier times.

    I would be even more delighted if I could actually put you back into touch with one another. If any Guzelians, family and/or friends contact me at samarkeolog on gmail, I can connect you directly!

    ReplyDelete