Sergey Vardanyan's new book on Hamshen

Sergey Vardanyan's new book on Hamshen

Postby avetik » 22 Jun 2009, 05:46

A story to tell: New book on Hamshen Armenians takes historical and cultural tour
By Siranuysh Gevorgyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
Published: 12 June, 2009

The ‘Converted Hamshen Armenians’ Dialect, Folklore and Art of Singing’ – materials and research” book designed for dialectologists, historians and ethnographers will soon appear in the bookstores, as another endeavor to display the veiled pages of existence of the unique Armenian group containing both Christians and Muslims.

Sergey Vardanyan, the author of the book, studies Hamshen Armenians since the 1980s, starting from origin to dialect, from history to folklore, and believes that the history of Hamshen Armenian still has a lot to uncover.

Vardanyan has devoted the recent years of his life to the study of Hamshen Armenians – their history, life-style and their dialect.
Hamshen Armenians are the descendants of the Armenians living in the Hamshen Province, now in Turkey.

Founded in the 8th century, by Hamam and Shapuh Amatuni princes, the Hamshen principality was destroyed in 1489, 30 years after Turks occupied Constantinople. At the beginning of the 18th century part of Hamshen Armenians was forcedly converted into Islam, the greater part, however, left the homeland in order to keep their Christianity.

Vardanyan said he had started research long ago, but it took him 2-3 years only to prepare the book for printing. The 428-page book in Armenian has 300 copies; it consists and has more than 40 color and black-and-white photos. Photos were taken in 1984 and 1987 when the author traveled in Central Asia. (The book price is 4,000 drams, or about $10).

The author thinks that the book can be useful especially for linguists who study dialects or Turkish language and also for Hamshen Armenians.

“Many Hamshen Armenians call me and ask the grammatical forms of this or that word. They learn from me, I learn from them”, says Vardanyan, 57.

The samples of dialect, folklore, art of singing of converted Hamshen Armenians living in Khopa and Borchka provinces of Turkey’s Ardvin State, as well as those exiled from Ajaria to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 1944, as well as Khopa’s subdialect dictionary are involved in the book.

Vardanyan says that it is difficult to know the exact number of the Hamshen Armenians because like all Armenians they are spread all over the world – “your neighbor may be a Hamshen Armenian if you ask him about his origins.”

Vardanyan says now there are 22,000 Muslim (who speak Armenian) Hamshen Armenians in Khopa and Borchka provinces in Turkey, some 100-200,000 Hamshentsi Turkish speaker s in all Turkey: 5-10 thousand Christian Hamshentsi Armenians live in Armenia. The number of Christian Hamshentsi Armenians living in Abkhazia is about 30-40 thousand.

Vardanyan got acquainted with Hamshen Armenians in 1969 for the first time in Russian town Adler, on the beach of Black Sea. Then he traveled to different counties and found out that Muslim Hamshen Armenians are also spread in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In 1989 he published (the third volume) of ‘Dzayn Hamshenakan’ (Voice of Hamshen) collection of books. (The authors of the first (1971) and second (1979) volumes were done by other authors-Sero Khanzadyan and Andranik Zeytunyan.)

“And the dialectology materials collected by me were left unpublished, since they needed to be completed, and I did not have an opportunity to leave for Middle Asia again,” Vardanyan tells.

According to Vardanyan converted Hamshen Armenians speak a subdialect of Hamshen dialect, which can be called Khopa’s subdialect.

Vardanyan states with pity that Khopa’s subdialect obtained features peculiar to a dead language, because those who spoke that language were isolated from their Christian and Armenian-speaking compatriots.

“The Armenian names of many objects and phenomena were removed the vocabulary of converted Hamshen Armenians because of not being kept in a written and classified form, but simply being passed orally. Only a few old men remember them. The Armenian names of wild birds are forgotten, and they call almost all birds ‘jinjukh’ (sparrow). They do not remember the names of many flowers, and call almost all of them ‘dzaghig’ (flower). This phenomenon is typical to Hamshen Armenians living in Central Asia, where there are few flowers and birds,” he says.

Vardanyan is also the deputy chairman of the Hamshen Compatriotic-Charity nongovernmental organization (NGO) founded in 1992 and since 2004 he is the founder and editor-in-chief of the ‘Dzayn Hamshenakan’ (Voice of Hamshen) newspaper. The newspaper is published by 1,000 copies, and it is distributed in Abkhazia, Krasnodar Krai of Russia, and a number of Diaspora communities (where Hamshen Armenians live) free of charge.

He adds that almost 27 years passed since his first ‘Hamshen Armenians: Known and Unknown’ article was published. But unfortunately, he says, an article with the same title can be written now as well, since Hamshen Armenians continue to remain ‘known and unknown’ at the same time.

Source: http://www.armenianow.com/?action=print ... 52&lng=eng

astegh badmutine hin
xarnevadza nerin hed,
kidista miy baberun azbarininq himi menq,
azbarininq menq... (c) Hamsheni Azbar
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