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  • Gurun

    From the now defunct website - a copy exists at

    It appears to be a translation into English of Bedros Minassian's book titled "History of Gurun", Beiruit 1974.

    History of GURUN

    This is an attempt to give the future historian the bases or the raw material which he might make use of when preparing his studies on the characteristics of the folklore, customs and norms of GURUN and its surroundings.

    In the compilation of the present volume we have referred to various sources, taken into consideration the latest theories formulated by authoritative and highly reputed historians of American, British, French, German, Russian and Armenian nationalities, like Frederich Bayern, J. de Morgan, E. Forrer, Nicholas Marr, C.F. Lehmann-Haupt, S. D. Eremian, Nicolas Adontz, Manandian, and others. First-hand reports, letters, statistics and other valuable documents originating from Gurun were also studied to give a clear picture of the everyday life that was lived there, and their desperate cries which fell on deaf ears.

    All of these now belong to the past.

    Despite all the miseries and misfortunes, our Compatriots have achieved posts of high renown. Working by night and studying by day, these sons of Gurun have become famous physicians, surgeons, engineers, opera singers, writers, have established commercial empires, and the once ragged orphans with a gloomy future, now are the employers of their executioners.

    In the few pages that follow, we have tried to stress the message of this resurrection to our English speaking generation.


    In the Third Millennium, B.C., during what the historians would call the Bronze Age, there have been many city-states scattered all over the eastern part of Asia Minor, extending from northern Mesopotamia to the south-eastern shores of the Black Sea.

    The most important of these states were those of Hatti (Hittites), Muski, Gimirri, (Cimmerians), Tegarama, Hayassa-Azzi, Isuwa, Alse, Urartu, Supri (Supria) Mitanni, and a host of other ethnic groups. The multitude of these groups eventually formed the basic ingredients of the Armenian people.

    During the course of the centuries that followed, one kingdom rose against the other, the rest of the neighbouring chieftains took sides with one or the other, according to the existing situation, so that a constant state of warfare perpetuated.

    At one time King Sargon of Assyria took up a punitive campaign against the state of TIL-GARIMMU, or, according to Hittite monuments, the state of TEGARAMA, known during the Ptolemaic era as GAURENA, or the present-day GURUN.*

    But this expedition failed due to the death of Sargon, in 705 B.C.

    Ten years later, in 695 Sennacherib sent one of his generals against King GURDI of Til-Garimmu (Tegarama = Gurun). King Gurdi was prudent enough not to face the superior Assyrian forces. Til-Garimmu was occupied for a short period, but due to the fact that it was very difficult to keep this country in servitude, they only ravaged it and returned. Thus Til-Garimmu was still able to maintain her independence.


    Til-Garimmu actually formed the territory of Armenia Minor, the first cradle of the Armenian element west of the Euphrates. They later crossed it and transformed Urartu into Greater Armenia. It could be assumed, therefore, that the inhabitants of Til-Garimmu were basically Armenians.

    The kingdom of Tegarama was not so ephemeral as could be thought of. The Bible has honoured it by inserting its name in the eponym of peoples enumerated in Chapter 10 of the Genesis. At present the masculine personal name Torgom is still used. There are further notions in Ezekiel Chapter 27; 14.

    It is not difficult to recognize the countries or the peoples represented by the above eponyms: — Gomer (Gamer) is Gimirri or the Cimmerians in Cappadocia (Armenian Gamirk); — Magog (land of the Gog) Gyges of Lydia; — Madai is Media, south of the Caspian Sea, corresponding to north-west of Persia; — Javan (Iovan) is Ionia ; — Thobel is Tabal, a part of Cilicia south-west of Tegarama; — Meshech is Muski or Phrygia; — Tiras (Theiras), perhaps Thrax, Thrace.

    The sons of Gomer (Gamer) were Ascenaz (Iskuzi or Iskunzi), the Scythians; — Togarmah (Thergama or rather Thegarma) is actually Tegarama or Til-Garimmu (Gurun), Armenia Minor ; — Riphath, perhaps Arpad, is Rfad north of Aleppo.


    In Gurun, near the Shoughoul quarter in a narrow pass there still stands a huge rock, on which there are inscriptions, presumably in Hittite language — the only living witness of the glorious past of historic Til-Garimmu.


    The mass movement of these ethnic groups towards east marked the beginning of the decline of Urartu, north of Lake Van, and the emergence of a new people — the Armenians. Almost at the same time the frequency of appearance of Til-Garimmu on the stage of history started to ebb. Needless to say that during the following centuries Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and many other cultures have crossed Gurun back and forth. Many civilized and barbaric tribes and peoples have passed and gone. So much so that the Armenian physionomy had almost vanished from that area.


    There are good reasons to believe that as early as the 6th Century (A.D.), there has been an Armenian community in Gurun. This period coincides with the Arab expansion, and their penetration into Armenia through the south-east. The situation was later aggravated by the Seljuk and Tartar invasions from the far east. However, it is not known exactly from where did the Armenian population pour into Gurun. But one thing is known that any political turmoil or imbalance in the east (Greater Armenia) had its repercussions in the west (Armenia Minor). Attempts have been made to clarify or pin down the location of these emigrations, yet there is no proof whatsoever to substantiate any theory with documentary evidence. But it is clear that from the early 7th Century A.D. there has been a deeply-rooted family system whose economy depended mainly on agriculture and cattlebreeding. The proverbs, sayings and other cultural similarities tend to give us the hint that there had been migrations of families to Gurun from as far east as Gharabagh, an East-Armenian territory.

    In later years, excavations have been carried out by individual adventurers, who have brought to light old bridges, aqueducts, tombs, graves and other inscriptions on rocks, as well as spear heads, various sorts of arms and human skeletons with some parts missing. This has given some notion to the fact that periods of peaceful life and dreadful wars have followed each other. Archeologists of American, British, Swedish, German and other European nationalities have come to Gurun, taken the prints of these age-old carvings in Hittite and Greek languages, but it is not known whether or not these have been translated.


    First hand reports, letters, and other valuable documents pertaining to Gurun have been preserved after 1800. Furthermore, travellers passing through Gurun prior to that date, have published the account of their journeys. As such, fairly reliable sources of information and statistics have reached us. We could know the number of population, their habits, customs and occupation, number of churches and schools, their folklore and culture in general, as well as the insupportable life. In fact not only in Gurun, but all over Asia Minor the Armenian population was always in danger. Pillaging, wanton destruction, extortion, kidnapping and murder were part of everyday life.

    It might seem unbelievable or imaginary, but truly such was the situation until 1914.


    Before Gurun was deprived of its Armenian population, it was practically the centre of shawl weaving industry. It was famous for its top quality products. The artisans working on the looms were so ingenious that no competitor outside Gurun would dare challenge their handicraft. The most beautiful designs came out of Gurun. Moreover, all innovations were featured by Gurunians, so much so, that the first mechanized loom in the area was introduced by a dauntless and imaginative Armenian entrepreneur named Sarkis Minassian, who brought it from Manchester, as well as a weaving "Jagoire" machine from Paris.

    The raw material, wool, was partly produced locally, and the rest was imported from Kurdish shepherds in Syria.

    According to the report of the year 1911 by the French vice-Consul in Sivas, the yearly textile production on the export market was estimated at $600,000.

    There were several kinds of shawls. The most famous were the "Bademy", "Gogozuk", "Lafory or Lahory", "Chubukhlu", "Ajemy" and "that of the Sage Uncle". This latter was a very famous weaver, a genius, who would produce shawls with his special trade mark.

    Next to the weaving industry, the most important economic activity was trade. Merchants of Gurun were criss-crossing the whole territory of Asia Minor. All sorts of goods (shawls, cloths, dried fruits) were taken to big cities within a radius of 1000 miles. To stress this aspect people would jokingly add that "... a lame Gurunian trader has reached China". They had established big commercial firms in Constantinople, Izmir, Trabzon, Erzerum, Aleppo, and had trade relations with European countries. Armenian daily newspapers in Constantinople and Izmir published advertisements for the promotion of Gurunian products.

    Since the economy was not self-sufficient, industrialization was the only way out. However, until the introduction of the relatively modern weaving machines, demand was far exceeding supply.

    After the Armenians were massacred and forced to exile, these machines were broken into pieces and sold here and there.

    Today, in the Sivas museum, one can still see examples of "Shawls of Gurun", as last remnants of a lost profession.


    Family life in Gurun was strictly conservative, but never tyrannical. No matter how large the number, all the members of the family used to live in the same house — children, grand-children, grand-grand-children and all. Needless to say, that all traditional customs and norms were strictly adhered to. Although the head of the family was the final authority in the house, yet other members too would take active part in the administration of the family economy. In certain instances, after the death of the father, it was not unusual to pass the financial management of the house to the third son, while his elder brothers would busy themselves with other activities. Women were also invited to participate in debates on important family affairs.

    Parents would carefully choose the bride for their son from among the young girls in the neighbourhood. They would take into consideration the reputation of her parents and herself, her education, her ability to do housework and other related matters. Sometimes they would give their consent to the young man's selection, and start establishing contacts with the girl's parents in elaborate and round-about ways.

    The divorce rate was nil.


    Gurun is situated in a long valley, with high peaks and caves all around. It is usually agreed that before the year 1914, the population did not exceed the limit of 15,000 with a 2/3 majority of Armenians. In residential quarters the houses were surrounded by orchards of sizeable area, which supplied the household with all the fruits needed. The surplus was dried and exported to other towns. The most abundant and famous were the apple, the apricot, the mulberry, the cherry etc. Various sorts of marmalades and jams were prepared and stored for consumption during the long months of winter.

    Some of the populous Armenian quarters were Shoughoul, Eoren, Tsakh-Tsor, Khasbagh and others, each of which had a parish church with an organized Diocese, headed by the Bishop of the Mother Church situated in the Market area. There were also Ferman and Terjan quarters, named after the inhabitants who were composed exclusively of Fermanian or Terjanian families. In certain areas, like Ashur quarter, the Turks were dominant in number.

    Besides the Orthodox Gregorians, there were also Catholic and Protestant Churches. Each of these three communities had its own schools adjacent to its churches. Special schools were established also for girls.
    Last edited by bell-the-cat; 05-19-2013, 08:09 AM.
    Plenipotentiary meow!

  • #2
    Re: Gurun

    .....continuation of the above.

    Came the year 1914. The Turkish government entered into the war alongside their allies, the Germans. The unique opportunity was now at hand to satisfy their hatred against the Armenians, and "solve the Armenian Question once and for all".

    The top secret plan was then executed.

    All the men between the ages 18-60 were recruited for military service, but only as "Labour Detachments". They were sent out to open roads and dig ditches only to be used as their graves.

    On the infamous day of 24 April 1915 the Armenian elite — writers, journalists, priests, Members of the Parliament — all over Asia Minor was arrested at the same time, and within a short time they were sent to their doom. Almost all of them were killed in cold blood and were left in the open air to decay.

    This operation was successfully completed and the exodus of the rest started, which was composed of women, children and the old.

    Their misery and suffering was beyond any imagination and belief, and could not be explained in words. Volumes have been written by American, British, French, German and other eye-witnesses, and pictures were taken to prove to the world these atrocities.

    The same procedure was followed in Gurun. So that, out of the approximately 10,000 Armenians of Gurun, less than 2000 only could survive this Calvary, a typical trade mark, which stands unique in the history of mankind.

    Today, after almost 60 years, the once flourishing and prosperous Gurun has become a lost village. Visitors in 1972 describe that all the houses, churches and schools have been destroyed. Themselves born in Gurun, they could only see traces of their ruined houses, unable to specify correctly which of the two had been their birth-place. The Mother Church was successively used as prison, stable, warehouse, and is now being used as a cinema.


    Outside their homeland, the Gurunians are now scattered all over the five continents. A sizeable number of them now live in the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, France, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. In Turkey there are only a few of them.

    Shortly after their settlement in these hospitable countries, the Gurunians came together and founded Compatriotic Unions to encourage one another, help alleviate the burden of the poor, pay the tuition fees for the needy school children, support them through higher educational institutions. And from that wretched multitude of 2000 shipwrecked Gurunians came an army of scholars, doctors, engineers, artists, painters, singers, poets, writers, businessmen and artisans.

    We can truly be proud of these achievements, and look forward to seeing all of us united under one roof of the Fatherland.


    Secretary, Compatriotic Union of Gurun, Beirut

    *The four names are used interchangeably.
    Plenipotentiary meow!


    • #3
      Re: Gurun

      Gurun or Gurin

      It has a town at the foot of a mountain ruled by Chapanoghlu, through which a stream passes. It has a Turkish population. The number of Armenian houses is 400-500. The majority of Armenians are traders, especially bringing linen from Trabzon, that they clean and whiten in Gurin before shipping to Adana and the surrounding regions. They wear long and narrow-angled hats called "kulah". Their dialect is unusal and different than the other Armenian dialects, especially from a pronunciation point of view. They like to read a lot and are willing to study. They have a church in town, and outside the town they have a large monastery near Kangal that is believed to have been built during Saint Gregory's time. Apples grown in Gurin are big and tasty and, therefore, are distributed to various regions.

      Fr. Ghoukas Indjidjian
      Venice, 1806, "Geography of the four parts of the world"


      By going forward one more hour, you enter an Armenian populated village called Mandjelek which comprises 50 houses and has 200 inhabitants, most of which are farmers who know how to handle guns well and are brave but uneducated. Their Prelate lives in a monastery named Saint Taurus; the school and the church being inside the same monastery. The area in which the village is located is mountainous, and its climate mild, with north-eastern winds.

      At a distance of about 9 hours from this village, traveling by rocky and mountainous roads, you reach the town of Gurin, which is part of the province of Sivas. Gurin has 20 villages, the inhabitants of which are Turkish farmers.

      There are 2000 houses in the town of Gurin: 1250 of which belong to Apostolic Armenians, 90 to Armenian Roman Catholics, 10 to Armenian Protestants, and 650 to Turks. The inhabitants are in general poor, but hospitable. There are 4 Armenian churches: one (named after the Virgin Mary) is built on 14 columns and made of stone; the remaining three (Saint George, Saint Savior and Saint Sargis) are made of wood.. Armenian Roman Catholics own a small church made of stone, and the Protestants another one. There is a large mosque with a minaret(tower) and a few masjids(small mosques). There are three Armenian Apostolic schools and one that is Armenian Roman Catholic. The Turks do not have a school; therefore, they are uneducated. There is a public bath, a market, and gardens. Most Armenians are traders and maintain contacts with Haleb and Trabzon. The Turks work as carpenters or carry on other professions.

      There are two rivers: one of them originates from a place located at a distance of an hour and passes through the town, watering some of the gardens, and goes towards Darende; the other originates from a place in the south of the town at a distance of half an hour and comes to water the remaining gardens and unites with the first river.

      Barounak Beyi Feroukhian
      Year 1847, printed in Armash in 1876, "Travel from Armenia to Babylon"
      Plenipotentiary meow!


      • #4
        Re: Gurun


        1. DIOCESAN DISTRICT (1854-1908)

        To determine the boundaries of the county of Choroum, a frontier was traced when the diocesan district of Gurin-Mandjelek, which was originally considered a part of Gurin, was finally separated from Yozgat as a distinct prelacy. On the other hand, Gemerek, which is part of Gurin today, was with its 20 villages part of the prelacy of Yozgat before the middle of the last century. The catholicos Kefsizian attached them to the prelacy of Gurin, but later was forced to give them back to the prelacy of Yozgat, from which they were again taken in 1890 and attached to Gurin.

        The prelacy of Yozgat was attached to the prelacy of Ankara between (1854-1858), for the prelate of Yozgat, Fr. Mateos, was at the same time appointed prelate of Ankara. In the same way, Gurin and Yozgat were reunited during the period 1859-1862. Between 1870 and 1872, during Archbishop Tertsakian's time as Prelate, Ankara-Yozgat-Afyon Karahisar were united as a diocese, and since that date, Yozgat represented a separate entity which had recently become a distinct organization.

        The diocesan districts of Gurin-Mandjelek and Darende, although considered separate from each other, were always neighbors and united in the past, even though they were sometimes separated or dependant upon other diocesan districts. Their frontiers and subdivisions were so complex and indistinct that they were judged suitable to be represented together, as they all had the same past and situation.

        The settlement of the Armenian community in this region dates back to the 10th century. It is mentioned that a small community settled near Darende and around Gogison, in the small town of Touplour, in the region of Tchahan. In the same way, they mention the name of a Bishop of Tchahan in 1192, which confirms the existence of a diocese during that period.

        They also mention Bishops in the 11th and 13th centuries. In 1586 a Bishop of Ashot is mentioned who was probably a Prelate of Ashotiye. Given the fact that the monastery of Saint Taurus of Mandjelek was built during the second half of the 16th century, it is likely that the See of the Prelacy of these dioceses was moved in the course of time. This region was placed under the authority of the Catholicossate of Cilicia for exactly the same reasons as Malattia and other dioceses, despite being outside Cilicia, were placed under the authority of this same See.

        Today, these three diocesan districts (Gurin-Mandjelek-Darende) comprise a total of 25 villages . Previously, only five of these villages belonged to the prelacy of Gurin; the remaining 20 (the most important of which was Gemerek) were within the spiritual jurisdiction of the prelacy of Yozgat.

        When Bishop Zakaria Pandjarian of Gemerek was elected Prelate of Gurin-Darende and Abbot of the Saint Taurus Monastery of Mandjelek in 1857, Gemerek, along with 18 surrounding villages, was given to the Mandjelek Abbot to look after.

        After that date, these dioceses underwent many changes with reunifications and divisions; they were even placed under the authority of the Prelate of Sivas.

        In 1904, by verbal arrangement, these diocesan districts were united with the decision of the Catholicos Sahak. They formed one Prelacy, which, even before being united, was divided again. Darende, was considered to be a separate diocese; although, that diocesan district couldn't be considered a stable one either, being devoid of a diocesan organization. Today these three diocesan districts occupy the following parts of the province of Sivas:

        1) District of Gurin: where there are 5 churches.

        2) Mandjelek sub-district: 1 church - a monastery which belongs to the central district of Sivas.

        3) Tenos district: 18 churches, of which only in the sub-district of Gemerek was there a concentration of Armenians.

        4) Aziziye

        5) Zanzali: these two districts were, from the religious point of view, considered to be completely part of Gemerek.

        6) Bunyan-Hamit: separated from Cesaria in 1903 and assigned to Sivas. Today it is part of the district of Gemerek.

        7) District of Darende; and

        8) Sub-district of Ashotiye, together they probably have a total of 6 churches.

        Divrighi, which has the same name as the central sanjak (provincial subdivision) of Sivas, represents a separate Prelacy which is under the authority of the Catholicossate of Cilicia. The Bishops of this town are mentionned since the 13th century. Now it is devoid of a diocesan organization and in miserable condition.

        1908, Istanbul, pg. 342-344 "Yearbook of the hospital Saint Savior"
        Plenipotentiary meow!


        • #5
          Re: Gurun

          .....continuation of the above.


          These memoirs devoted to the history of churches and to the clergymen of Gurin, that we put together with great difficulty from non written explanations and narrations, is naturally not a comprehensive study on the subject. We do not have the corresponding possibilities, conditions and resources to present them with precise evidences, but we hope they will have interesting parts, linked with historical events.


          The initial place of worship of the Gregorian Armenians of Gurin was a dark, underground place dug into the earth, which was on the site of the Mother Church where, after secretly celebrating mass for a long time, they built the well-known Mother Church today, named after Virgin Mary (having received the firman [imperial edict] and after encountering a lot of difficulties). This is because the local Muslim population did not want to see such a huge building belonging to Armenians, or to hear the ringings of the bell (at that time there was a wooden bell). The church construction was banned several times. Let us recall the two most important incidents to better understand the mentality of our Muslim neighbors.

          The local fanatic Turks got the Mufti (the religious leader) to issue a fetwa (a writing interpreting the law) in which they claimed that Armenians were building the church with lime and, during the transportation of the lime in torn bags by donkeys from the suburbs of the town, it spilled onto the road. As the lime used in the construction of the church was considered dirty, when it touched the slippers of the Muslims, they were deprived of their right to pray. Consequently, they asked for the construction of the church to be banned.

          To remove this obstacle, Armenians set up a delegation to inquire at Yozgat Tchapanoghlou (a local authority). The local Muslims tried to prevent their departure by informing the Avshars, an ethnic group of marauders, that the convoy was transporting a big wealth.

          In order to rob that imaginary wealth, the Avshars engaged the group of delegates near the village of Boran Deresi, inhabited by Circassians. After 48 hours of firing from both sides the Avshars run out of ammunition and they left the scene of fighting with the loss of two men. When arriving at Yozgat, the delegation offered its presents to Tchapanoghlou through and under the protection of local Armenians. They presented their problems and received the promises of assistance when returning.

          After that incident, eight of the Muslim leaders were summoned to Yozgat by Tchapanoghlou for inspection. He summoned them during the coldest period of winter. The trial started without detailed questioning as follows:

          - "Is the Sultan a Muslim," asked Tchapanoughlou, "the Sheikh-ul-Islam, the Interior Minister, the Governor are they Muslims?... and me (Tchapanoghlou) am I a Muslim?"

          - "Of course Excellency of course you are" answered the Turkish leaders.

          - "Then," continued Tchapanoghlou, "the law of His Highness, the Sultan, and of his ministers was not broken by the presence of hundreds of churches in the capital. In the same way, the Governor of Galattia considered that there could be churches where he lives. Myself, I gave permission for a church to be built in Yozgat. I am very happy that, being more careful Muslims, you banned the construction of the church." and had them locked up in a room where the floor was covered with water.

          During the same night, four of them died of cold. The remaining four persons were taken out of the room, half dead, and they returned to Gurin. After this incident, Armenians started building the church again and nobody dared to ban the construction for a while. Before the building was completed, a new obstacle appeared.

          This time, a delegation led by Piranian Mkrtitch, also known as Deli Mkri (Mad Mkri), went to Sivas, where the problem was solved by offering presents. But as Piranian wanted to see the Governor of Sivas himself, and they refused him this favor, he started yelling in the courtyard of the local government building.

          Hearing the noise, the General (Governor) summoned him to his office and, after examining the situation and understanding it, he granted authorization. This way, the construction of the church, which was interrupted, came to an end.

          The Mother Church is located in the center of the city, near Oulou Djami (Big Mosque) belonging to the Turks, on the north-east side. The construction date is believed to have been approximately 1810-1815. Built totally out of stone, and covered by high arches, the church had no dome. Because of its low position, the external appearance was simple. It was surrounded in a northward direction by a hill, next to the continuation of what was the historic fortress (Kale); in an eastward direction was the road to Sivas, the straits called "Sarin Boghazi" and the Turkish quarters; in a westward direction was the newly built prelacy building in our time and the Armenian church, as well as shops and the two, three-story hotel buildings belonging to the church; and in a southward direction were the big and small armoured doors of the church courtyard and the markets.

          The area of the church and of the neighboring buildings belonging to the community was approximately 5000 square meters. The church had a vast courtyard, where a few divisions were allocated to the administration and the employees. There were also a lot of gravestones and monuments. There was a special cemetery on the back side, separated from the internal parts by a wall.

          The entrance door was built on the western side, leading into a large narthex. In our time, there was no bell tower, but a simple iron bell. The interior of the church had three altars adorned with big oil paintings of the Virgin Mary, the Saint Resurrection, and the Crucification, silver candlesticks, Bibles covered with silver and gold, precious altar cloths, and torches. On the righthand side of the choir was the episcopal chair covered with a dome, and on the lefthand side there was a chair for the priest and the places reserved for the lower rank priests. Oil paintings of the 12 apostles were placed inside frames on the stones, forming the base of the entire length of the altar, from the righthand side to the left, most of which, despite being fairly old, were still in good condition. On the right and lefthand sides of the arch of the main altar were two pulpits for the reading of the Gospel in Christmas and Easter. The place where mass was celebrated was built on the righthand side of the church, where there was also a beautiful and artistically shaped marble basin for christenings. It had a high altar and a curtain for the dressing of the clergymen.

          The floor of the place reserved for the public was covered with normal or pileless carpets; every person had his place where there was a small cushion for sitting. They used to take off their shoes while entering the church and a special wooden place for shoes was built on the right and lefthand sides along the wall.

          There was a gallery for ladies, which had two entrances leading to the right and left sides of the courtyard. They used to go up the stairs to access the gallery by entering through these doors.

          Among Gurin churches, the Mother Church had the most sumptuous and adorned interior. It had three large silver crosses, approximately 3 to 5 feet long. There were numerous silver candlesticks, precious Bibles with silver-plated covers, as well as a parchment Gospel, which were precious antiques and were priceless from a historical point of view. Chasubles knitted with gold and silver threads were precious hand made creations and were more precious as antiques than all the rest. There were gold-plated crowns set with gems. These ornaments were generally used with extreme care during feasts or during the visit of a catholicos.

          The big suspended torch made of pure silver was made up of 12 dragons, on top of which was burning a candle. There were also two smaller torches on the right and lefthand side in front of the altar, donated by this or that pious community member.

          The church owned a lot of oil paintings, most of which were executed by a painter of Tokat. It was said that many precious pictures, the real value of which could not be recognized at that time, were often placed in the coffins of deceased priests as objects with no value so as to avoid them being desecrated in various circumstances.

          The Mother Church had a lot of properties and incomes. When Saledji Mahtesi Hakob became a member of Parliament, he succeeded in buying the ruined houses and shops surrounding the church and in developing them by doing repair work. He also purchased a few vast plots of land on the river bank, in the quarter of Khasbagh, for the church. It was also said that, on the Prelate's advice, the unnecessary silver and golden vases, crosses, batons, and crowns were taken to Halep and sold by the Treasurer of the administration of that time, and the resulting sums allocated to the purchase of properties.

          The priests of the Mother Church were: Fr. Grigor Djeghelian, Fr. Karapet Marashlian, Fr. Mkrtich Gendjoghlouian (his real surname was Topalian), Fr. Hmayak Djemdjemian, from the quarter of Farman, who was ordained by Bishop Ghevond Shishmanian., along with Fr. Garegin. The latter was an educated person but, because he had a bad voice, he was not very popular. The Patriarchate of Istanbul summoned him to carry out his duties near Istanbul. Fr. Daniel Ter Abrahamian, about whom they tell that during the massacre of 1895 he was encircled by Kurds who fired on him over and over again, but he did not die, finally died on the river bank, near Topals' garden, at the top of Keten Tchayer. Fr. Sahak Yaghoubian (from Zeitoun), Fr. Andre Manoukian, Fr. Ignatios Banian, who was the son of another famous priest, Fr. Manouk (mason), who, they say, had a parable to tell in reply to every comment.


          They mention 1847 as the old construction date of the church of Tsakhtsor. The old building was wooden and simple; whereas, the new one was erected between 1882 and 1885. The church was named Saint Saviour. It was built totally out of stone. It was supported by arches ascending on four large marble columns, named after the four Evangelists, with a large dome having 12 windows and a wooden cross on top. The external appearance of the building was majestic and attractive. It had a vast courtyard with great walls. It was explained to us during geography lessons that the building of the church of Tsakhtsor was slightly facing south-east, rather than due south.

          The buildings and houses around the church were: in an eastward direction, the schools for boys and girls; in a westward direction, houses and gardens belonging to Vezirians and to others; in a northward direction, Bodjikians' house; and in a southward direction, houses and gardens of the notable (agha) Arboyan Stepan.

          Armenians from every part of Gurin took part in the church building activities. From children to the elderly, they all carried, relentlessly, stones, sand, water, and building materials and worked for a long time. They even related that members of the Kizilbash community and ethnic Kurds carried stones to help build the church because of a wish they had made or as an act of faith.

          The stones of the columns of the church were brought from Karadjaoren. There was even an incident involving people from different quarters about who should transport a big stone. After arguing about which quarter's inhabitants would transport the stone, in the end, inhabitants of Yashtepe did the job. The courtyard was built later by Arapian Petros Agha, where he was himself buried, on the righthand side of the church entrance, with an inscription on the gravestone placed there to evoke his memory.

          On the lefthand side of the church entrance was the tomb of Fr. Gaspar Zatikian, with a marble stone on it lacking any inscription. In the courtyard, there were also other gravestones. There was a building used as a guesthouse, with rooms allocated to the administration and the employees. This building was transformed into a girls' school in 1913-1914.

          The interior furnishing and adornments of the church of Tsakhtsor were beautiful and brilliant. It was also very light. Sun rays entered from the windows of the dome or other windows during the Sunday service and mixed with nice smelling incense clouds and smokes, displaying brilliant sparks of shining torches and providing the softness of a magnificent heavenly vision or of a dream to our young souls.

          For ladies, there was a gallery and special places downstairs on both sides of the internal porch separated from the mens' places. The church had two cloakrooms, one of which was used as a sacristy and remained locked up, and the other was used for changing clothes or christenings. It had a basin and a small altar.

          The bell was high above the external porch, reinforced on wooden bases. The courtyard of the church had a large armored double door through which the pupils of the school used to arrive and leave.

          It had become a tradition that the pilgrims visiting Jerusalem or other places bring and offer silver vases, torches, and objects to the church after returning home. The church of Tsakhtsor had many decent adornments, altar cloths, and clothings in our time. The church was self-sufficient and had a stable financial situation, both in old days and during the last period.

          The priests of that church were: Fr. Gaspar Zatikian, in his time the new church of Tsakhtsor was built under his special supervision; a priest named Fr. Pano, the surname of whom is not mentioned; Fr. Onisimos Harzvartian, Fr. Mesrop Afarian, Andreas Khoyan (from the quarter of Karatepe), and Fr. Hesou Vardapetian. Before becoming a man of the cloth, Fr. Hesou was a teacher in the Aramian school; later he was the manager of the school of Tsakhtsor. He was ordained priest in Sepastia, along with Fr. Onisimos.
          Last edited by bell-the-cat; 05-19-2013, 08:04 AM.
          Plenipotentiary meow!


          • #6
            Re: Gurun

            .....continuation of the above.


            The old church of Oren was of wooden construction. In the incident of 1895, Turks burned it down, along with a lot of other things. After the massacres, it was rebuilt in 1907-1908. The mason was Hovhannes Banian. The inhabitants of Oren proposed to give him a donkey as a means of transportation, so that he would not have to walk 7-8 miles from Tsakhtsor to Oren.

            Hovhannes Banian refused and kept doing his work with the faith of a pilgrim, always insisting that he wanted to go and come back on foot until the building was completed. The church was named Saint George.

            It had an eastern Armenian priest too, the name of whom is not mentioned. Fr. Grigor Gizirian and others too carried out their duties in that church.


            According to information received from well informed persons, the old church of the quarter of Shoughoul was destroyed in an earthquake. It was rebuilt in 1875. The main builders were the Gabrielians, masons from the quarter of Tsakhtsor, and the Gharkaians, the carpenters of Oren. Numerous inhabitants of the quarter of Shoughoul participated in the inauguration and blessing of the church with presents and their help. In the same way Terdjan Agha Terdjanian generously contributed to the subscription.

            This second building seems to have been destroyed during the massacres and the events of 1895, given that in our time, in 1913-1914, they had started building a new church. Until the completion of the church, the services took place in a small room. As soon as the new church building was completed, the deportations started. Before even being able to pray in the church they had built with the force of their faith and hard work, the Armenian people heard the voice of Turkish gendarmes coming from the entrance, and with this sound reverberating in their ears, were forced away forever from their home and church; from the lands where they had worked so much.

            The priests of the church of Shoughoul were Fr. Petros Ter Petrosian and, during the prelacy of the Archbishop Shishmanian, Fr. Vaghinak, who was a preacher and a pastor at the same time.

            Fr. Vaghinak Sisakian (he is believed to be from the region of Istanbul) came to Gurin with the Prelate, Archbishop Ghevond Shishmanian. He was a man of the cloth at that time and was ordained priest during his second year in Gurin. He received his title in the Mother Church. In approximately 1888-1889, he left Gurin for Kharberd (Harpout), and from there he went to Karin (Erzouroum). Finally, by order of the catholicos of Etchmiadzin, he left for the USA in 1897 and became the religious leader of the city of Providence. After carrying out his duties for two years, he died on the 14th of June 1899 after a short period of illness.

            In 1913, Fr. Grigoris, who was newly ordained by the Archbishop Khoren Dimaqsian, had just taken up his duties when the deportations and the robberies began.


            The Armenian Catholic community of Gurin had two churches: the Mother Church was situated in Sagh; while the other was in the lower Shoughoul quarter. The construction dates of these churches are the same.

            Their clergymen were, in general, well-educated. They mention the name of a renowned Fr. Hurmuzian, who belonged to the Armenian Catholic Hurmuzian family of Gurin. The Diocese was under the authority of the Patriarchate of Istanbul.

            The Catholic community of Gurin was wealthy; therefore, the churches generally were in a good financial situation. Except for a few insignificant disputes, they had good relations with the Gregorian churches. It is told that during important feasts, Gregorian choir children used to go to their churches to take part in the service. The priests of Gurin were Fr. Atanas, and a pastor named Avetik Khnkikian, who carried out his duties for a while as a Catholic priest. In our time, they had Fr. Ghevond Kekevian and Fr. Sahak Shahlamian, who were savagely martyred by the Turks, just like many others, before the deportations began.

            THE PROTESTANTS:

            According to the information we obtained, Protestantism was introduced in Gurin in 1874-1875 when there was a terrible cold and general famine in that region, by American missionaries who took advantage of the existing difficulties and converted lots of people by giving them assistance. Protestantism started to take root in the quarter of Shoughoul. They tell that (Fr. Topal) Minassian helped to the spread of Protestantism in Gurin. Generally, Protestant preachers came from outside and were always guided from outside.

            The main Reverend of Gurin was Martiros Boshgoturian (from Kharberd). The other Reverends were: Gevorg Demirdjian (from Kharberd), Petros Moughalian (from Ashot), Grigor Khandamour (from Divrighi). They say that Grigor Khandamourian's house was the only Protestant house in the seventies. His son Sedrak, a pharmacist, who mastered vocabulary, used to be called the "living dictionary". He also knew English very well. At present there are two Khandamourian brothers, who are Grigor's grandchildren.

            At the beginning, Protestants were financially in a very poor condition. However, thanks to the conversion of rich families and to the continuous assistance of American missionaries, Protestantism later reached a middle class position. In this way, the influential families Ghetmerian and Toumadjian, which were on opposite positions during the church administration elections of the quarter of Shoughoul, became Protestants.

            The first Protestant church was built in the quarter of Shoughoul, then the quarters of Karatepe and Khasbagh got their Protestant churches.

            Initially, neither the Protestants nor the Catholics had representatives to the Turkish authorities, but later they started having their own representatives, just like the Armenian Gregorians. Each religious community had its own political assembly. The Gregorians used to hold their political meetings in conformity with the National Constitutional Rules. The Protestants and Catholics were ruled from outside and by laws of outside.

            THE PRELACY:

            The See of the Prelacy was Saint Taurus Monastery, of the village of Mandjelek, in the period 1870-1880. The first Prelate was the Bishop Zaqaria, who carried out his duties for a long time. Born in Gemerek, he was an uneducated person. He used to live in Mandjelek. Thanks to his close relations with the local Kurdish and Turkish powerful people, he succeeded in becoming a priest and later, in Sis, he was raised to the rank of Bishop.

            We had a priest called Fr. Stepanos Aghdjabegian (from Zeitoun). He, too, was appointed Prelate of Mandjelek. He was an uneducated, but courageous, prelate-man. After him, the Prelates were Fr. Vardan, a priest called Yedibele, and Fr. Mateos.

            The Prelacy was transferred to Gurin in 1880-1882, during Bishop Ghevond Shishmanian's day. Bishop Ghevond was a well-educated clergyman with exceptional capabilities. He was ordained priest by Bishop Khoren Ashekian in Armash in 1874, after the death of his wife. Four years later, in 1876, he was appointed Prelate of Biledjik, and raised to the rank of Archbishop. As an inspector of provincial matters, he visited Yozgat, Gurin, and Sis on the occasion of the well-known "Berati" problem of the catholicos Mkrtich. In 1886, he was appointed Prelate of Kharberd (Harpout), and in 1889, by order of the Patriarch T. Ashekian, he was sent to Karin (Erzouroum), on the occasion of the first incident which occured during which 50 Armenians were assassinated in the church courtyard. He succeeded in establishing peace by calming down the Armenian and Turkish peoples. He was in charge of the Diocese of the vast region of Karin during 6 years, where he carried out his duties competently. His telegram addressed to Gladstone caused a stir in European newspapers, in which he exposed the usurpations which had taken place after the massacre of Sassoun and asked for compensation. His articles published on this occasion in "Tan" were also important. In 1895, when the general inspector of Anatolia, the General Shakir, arrived in Karin (Erzouroum), Archbishop Ghevond, who hadn't gone to welcome him, was accused of subversion and of having secret relations with European circles, especially with Times and Daily Telegraph reporters Dr. Emil Dillon and B. Scootamor (for whom he had made all sorts of sacrifices to defend the Armenian cause). After that occured the catastrophic massacre in the city (15th October 1905). The authorities of Karin, by inviting the influential Armenians, asked for explanations and got them to sign, under pressure, a document in which they asserted the Prelate had incited them to violence. Armenian assembly members urged him to return to Istanbul by resigning so that people would calm down. He refused and stayed in office. Two months after the massacre, on the 18th of September 1905, by order of the Sultan Abdulhamit, and during the coldest season of the region of Erzouroum, Shishmanian was transferred to Istanbul, accompanied by 100 policemen of cavalry, for being deported to Jerusalem. He was kept eight days in Istanbul. The translator of the Embassy of Great Britain and B. Scootamor met with him. When arriving in Jerusalem, he was taken directly to Bethlehem, as it was ordered to completely isolate him. But after the intercession of the patriarch Haroutyoun, he was transferred four months later to the Saint Jacob monastery. Two months later, the deportation of Bishop Izmirlian took place. During the nine years of exile spent in Jerusalem, Bishop Shishmanian always tried to make himself useful by giving lectures at the school Jarangavorats and by taking charge of the edition of the calendar of Jerusalem during the last years. He knew very well the classical and modern Armenian, Turkish, and French languages. He had literary works, grammar books in Armenian and French, an unpublished historic poem in Classical Armenian, "Ara The Handsome" and he wrote "My Life In Exile" in Jerusalem, a voluminous work (the publication of which was undertaken in Cairo, but part of his manuscripts were removed by "invisible" hands). Therefore, the publication of such an interesting and long work ended in failure. However a part of it still remains. He also has a volume of poems, "Songs of Suffering of Motherland", published with the pseudonym of "Hayordi," in which there were about sixty patriotic poems. During the last captive years of this zealous and dedicated clergyman, his mental affliction and the sufferings of the exile started weighing heavily upon him. When the local Governor heard the publication of "Songs of Suffering of Motherland," Bishop Ghevond was informed that he faced serious accusations. The consequence was catastrophic. Overwhelmed by nervous disorders in his illness, he died on the 11th of December 1910 in Jerusalem. The Prelate Shishmanian greatly contributed to the development of schools in Gurin, by also seriously organizing the political and educational assemblies. He remains one of the active figures in the national history of Gurin. He had very serious opponents, as well as disputes; the echoes of which reached even the Patriarchate of Istanbul.

            Fr. Gaspar Zatikian, from the quarter of Tsakhtsor, was Deputy Prelate. Fr. Gaspar, with his courage and boldness, had a perceptible influence on local governmental authorities, as well as on Turkish notables and village leaders (Turkish, Avshar, and Circassian). They say that after Fr. Gaspar there was a Prelate named Bishop Abraham Mamikonian. Bishop Mamikonian was a big, handsome clergyman, and, at the same time, a capable preacher. He became famous for his use of popular parables. He came to Gurin twice. He died during the last visit and was buried in Gurin.

            Fr. Mesrop Afarian was also a Deputy Prelate. During the massacre of Adana, when Gurin was also about to become subjected to the same massacre, Fr. Mesrop played an important role by imposing his will and the resistance force of the Armenian people to the top governmental authorities, and by preventing the catastrophe. The visit of the catholicos of Cilicia, Sahak Kabayan, to Gurin at that time also had some influence on the authorities.

            Fr. Hesou Vardapetian was also a Deputy Prelate. He was one of the most educated and capable priests we had. In his days, the political athmosphere was peaceful and we enjoyed a period of growth and development in the national, educational, and economic fields.

            In 1913, Bishop Khoren Dimaqsian (from Gurin) arrived. He was a well-educated, capable clergyman, with a gentle diposition. Bishop Dimaqsian, taking the responsibilities of the Prelacy of Gurin, which had for a long time remained vacant, set immediately about settling the general, national, and educational matters. He also started serious organizational works. He ordained a few priests, making the church a cultural center for everybody. Even during the conscription period, in 1914, he trained people as Deacons and choir members for the four churches of Gurin, in order to replace those who had left.

            I remember those days. A few of my classmates had become choir members. The emotion was big...there were progresses from day to day in religious, educational, and national spheres. Bishop Khoren was the Apostle of an awakening.

            1915 buried in blood and robbery, every project, every attempt of human creation.
            Last edited by bell-the-cat; 05-19-2013, 08:05 AM.
            Plenipotentiary meow!


            • #7
              Re: Gurun

              .....continuation of the above.


              Hakob, brother of Istanbul - that's how they used to call him - was a shoemaker by profession and lived in Sepastia. He was an educated man, who knew the Bible well. He was single. His studies around religion and theology drove him to a devotion of such an extent that one day he retired and withdrew from society by selling everything he possessed. He took his Gospel with him and started preaching from city to city with the theme "life and wealth aren't worth anything, we should devote ourselves to heaven".
              Thus by preaching in Tokat, Zile, Amasya, Merzifon, Sepastia, and in many other cities, he found a lot of followers. Together they founded the movement called "Brotherhood Towards Heaven."

              Gurin was not spared by this "brotherhood" either. The preachings and prayer meetings of "brother" Hakob were not without success. Here, too, he had a lot of followers driven by these abstract ideas. This "brotherhood" had its meeting places in almost every quarter of Gurin within a very short period of time. Thus, in the quarter of Khasbagh, it was in Ghazanchi Karo's house; in Gharatepe, in Khots' Hambar's house; in Yashtepe, in barber Moughboul's house; in Oren, in Ghasp's house; and in the two quarters of Shoughoul, in Topal's house that, for a long time, they gathered and sang every Sunday.

              Besides middle-aged people, young single boys and girls also joined this "brotherhood". Brother Hakob had also organized this "Brotherhood Towards Heaven" in the villages of Darende and Ashot, situated near Gurin , that Turks were calling the "Hiluli" Nation. It was amazing that the authorities were turning a blind eye to their free gatherings and meetings.

              In a short time, the beneficial effects of this heavenly "brotherhood" started progressively to surface. Many of its members started to give up working, some abandoned their fiancées, and several of them abandoned their families by saying, "What do we have in this world full of lies? Nothing. Then let's devote ourselves mentally and physically to Heaven."

              At the time, the Prelate of Gurin was Bishop Ghevond Shishmanian. There was also a priest named Vaghinak who had just been ordained and was the preacher of the church of Shoughoul. By meeting with the Apostle of this brotherhood, Fr. Vaghinak recommended he stop his preachings before they went too far, reminding him that many families already inquired at the prelacy and complained about this movement, explaining the reasons of their misfortune.

              But the "brotherhood" kept holding its meetings.

              This time, the Prelate himself severely criticized the idea of the "brotherhood" in his sermon, stressing that one should not forget the active life while praying. He strictly banned these sort of gatherings and ordered the movement to disband.

              In order to get the ban lifted, the "brotherhood" presented a petition of more than one hundred signatures to the Prelate through Ghazanchi Karo, Choqkarian Gabriel Agha, Father Sahak and Vardo Indjeian. After reading the document, the Prelate explained, "Your gatherings are doing more harm than good to our people. The Government will assign a political character to it, and, as such, it will cause material, moral, and job losses. Consequently, as the religious leader of this town, I am strictly banning your activity."

              After that strict warning, "the brotherhood" held a few secret meetings, but the number of its members progressively decreased and it was finally disbanded, not to give rise to legal proceedings of governmental authorities.

              The "Brotherhood Towards Heaven" ended leaving a tragedy in two acts behind, one different than the other. The first: when "brotherhood" meetings were taking place in the house of the sister of Tents... Agha, Ch...ian Sen, who had fallen in love with her daughter, married with her; whereas, Sen was one of the purest ones and one of those who were saying "life on earth is nothingness." The second: the perfect believer of the brotherhood, Ghazanchi Karo, decided to fast for a period of 15 days. He was a thin, young man of 25-30 years old, and became sick after 8-10 days. No advice helped; he ate nothing and continued to fast during the 15 days. The poor boy died in his bed. By order of the Prelate, he was buried in the garden situated behind the altar of the Mother Church.


              In the past, all four churches of Gurin had wooden bells, later iron ones. The Mother Church bell was the best one. They had tried to get a normal big bell, but the Turkish authorities had banned that. In the same way it was forbidden to adorn the church with pileless and normal carpets.
              Permission was received to have a bell and pileless carpets for the church, thanks to Bezaz Haroutyoun Amira's intercession. The use of pileless carpets was allowed everywhere; whereas, the use of a bell depended on the consent of the Turkish authorities of a town.

              Finally, a foundry worker from Erzeroum was brought in by the local Prelacy to cast the bell of the Mother Church of Sepastia. That foundry worker was also invited to Gurin to cast the bell of the Mother Church. The Turks put an obstacle in the way of this construction work, arguing that the church was close to Turkish quarters and the bell would bother them. But their complaints were in vain, because our courageous Prelate Bishop Ghevond Shishmanian, who used to put up with every difficulty, did not pay attention to them.

              When the foundry worker arrived in Gurin, he started to work, after the payment of a salary of ten golden coins, and all the expenses were paid by the church. Armenians from all quarters of Gurin gave bronze, copper, silver, and metals mixed with gold for the construction of the bell.

              The mold of the bell was prepared in the courtyard of the church. Armenian blacksmiths offered their bellows and blew, melted, and finally cast the bell. Then they built the place where it would be hung from. In the presence of a big crowd, they hung it from a bell tower-like wooden bridge. The Prelate blessed it and started to ring it very strongly. People were enthusiastic and happy to hear the penetrating and mysterious sound of the bell.

              One or two weeks later, the sound of the bell was weaker, and it was said that a strong man was needed to ring it. At that time the Khots family of Karatepe had a member named Ghazar. He was a young man, in good health, of 25-28 years old. Because of his exceptional dynamism, they used to name him "Khots' mad Ghazar." They called this young man to ring the bell. Ghazar rang the bell with all his might, but that hardly lasted 5-10 minutes and the bell cracked. What a pity! A new one would be cast and the broken bell was taken down.

              The foundry worker from Erzouroum was still in Gurin. He had a room in Bedesten (the covered market). The (blind) Nshan from Sepastia who was a wine merchant was also there. The foundry worker was a heavy drinker and took advantage of the fact that Nshan was a wine merchant. He drank so much that he could hardly go to bed in the evening and in the morning, with much difficulty, they took him to work to complete the bell casting work he had started all over again.

              One morning, the Chamberlain Karayents Sekko Emmi went to call the inhabitant of Erzouroum. He found the door closed, had his doubts, and alerted the authorities. Sergeant Ismail came with a policeman. When they opened the door, they saw that the foundry worker was dead with a distended stomach. They informed Dr. Abdalian. Until the doctor arrived, Bedesten filled up with an Armenian-Turkish crowd. Dr. Abdalian and Mr. Grigor confirmed, by examining the cadaver, that he died from excessive drinking.

              The foundry worker from Erzouroum was buried by the Church. The work was left unfinished. It needed to be completed. Fortunately the Armenians of Gurin had their own ingenious artisans.

              Hambar Makarian was a famous gunsmith and mechanic, an expert and capable artisan. He undertook himself the work of completing the church bell. He completed the mold; called the blacksmiths, who brought their bellows, blew, and melted the broken bell; mixed more metal; and cast the new, stronger bell with a stronger sound.

              Thus the bell of the church of Gurin was built by Gurin inhabitants themselves.


              Gurin had a Muslim and Christian population. Muslims were in the minority. Christians were divided into three religious communities: Gregorian (Armenian Apostolic), Armenian Roman Catholic, and Protestant.
              There were often debates about religion between ordinary individuals in the everyday life and they used to end sometimes quietly, and sometimes in unpleasant incidents.

              But one day, 70-75 years ago, a religious debate took place publicly between capable representatives of the religion and the church (which took on a very important and official character) in the presence of Turkish governmental and religious authorities, as well as representatives of Armenian religious communities, teachers, and the public.

              The meeting place was Terdjanian Hovsep Agha's garden (Takels' street). It was a hot August day. The meeting was presided over by the Islamic religious leader (the Mufti). Officially present were the judge, a few Muslim clerics, the Deputy Prelate representing the Gregorians, priests, and teachers (among others: Avetis Betikian, a teacher of the boarding school). Representing the Armenian Roman Catholic Church, a priest and other people were present. From the Protestant side, two reverends and Mr. Grigor Khandamourian of Divrighi, who was a reverend and a doctor at the same time, attended the meeting.

              The debate began in an orderly fashion and lasted four to five hours. Explanations about religious knowledge, which were given by both sides, were translated into Turkish. This pleased the Islamic religious leader, who manifested his happiness to the people because of the information he had received about Christianity on that occasion.

              Who came out victorious in the debate and on which basis, I omit it, as the purpose of these memories is presenting the simple fact and not making comments, but we can certainly draw the conclusion and the moral lesson that historic incident was more of a Christian lecture intended for our Muslim neighbors than a debate, and had a certain influence on social perceptions.


              In the past, they had built a cotton mill with 8 to 10 workbenches near the church as a production facility to financially support the Mother Church of Gurin. The work was advancing under the supervision of a private expert. Encouraged by this undertaking, the church administration elaborated certain plans to increase the number of properties and the income of the church, but money was needed to achieve these goals. The church was poor at that time.
              On the advice of the Prelate, it was decided to sell nearly 46 kilos of unused and superfluous silver and golden vases, crosses, lamps, batons, etc. owned by the church. This task was entrusted to the Treasurer of the administration at that time, Khatcher Agha Azariaian. The latter used to travel to Haleb on a business trip once a year, so he took the silver objects with him and sold them. With the resulting sum, the administration bought the ruined houses and shops surrounding the church, and in this way widened further the surroundings of the church. (It is in these places that the new prelacy and school buildings were finally built in 1912-1913.) Repairs to the buildings and cotton thread production works were quickly advancing. It was important to have a water supply both for the factory and for the public in general.

              A source was found in the upper part of the Sagh quarter, in the direction of the Catholic church. To bring that water to the Mother Church, it was necessary to build an aqueduct. The planned work was being executed with enthusiasm, but it came up against a problem: the aqueduct could not be too close to the Catholic church. This problem was examined by the authorities and was the object of an action. It was decided that the aqueduct should be at a distance of twelve feet from the building in question. The Sheikh of the Dervish lodge situated next to the Great Mosque helped the court's sentence to be in favor of the Armenian Apostolic church. The Dervish lodge didn't have a water supply either, and naturally the Sheikh wanted to take advantage of that opportunity by concluding beforehand an agreement with the church administration.

              One way or another, the work to bring water was begun, with officially approved documents and authorization, and the Mother Church got its cold drinking water supply, available to all tired and thirsty passersby.

              Kh. N. Makarian
              Plenipotentiary meow!


              • #8
                Re: Gurun

                3. MONASTERIES OF GURIN

                1. SAINT TAURUS MONASTERY:

                Balian writes: "Saint Taurus is one of the very old monasteries built on a hill near a village called Mandjelek, at the same time as the Saint Nshan monasteries of Sepastia (Sivas) and Tokat" But Balian does not provide any evidence to prove what he says; this is probably based on oral history. One of the two outer doors of the monastery's surrounding wall, which is facing north, is at present rotten. The internal situation is unenviable, but in 1900 there was an orphanage there, thanks to the expenditures of Moscow charities and the supervision of the national patriarchate. The monastery owns 20 plots of land, two gardens, a mill, and 20 acres of prairies.

                2. SAINT JACOB MONASTERY:

                The monastery named Saint Jacob is an old one, located one and a half hours from the small market town of Darende, belonging to Gurin, near the Armenian populated village of Ashot. It is one of the isolated places without any activity, but it was appreciated and visited for a long time as a place of pilgrimage. It was probably mixed up with another namesake monastery which was allegedly near the Mandjelek village, if it is not Saint Taurus itself -- one of its chapels or altars being named Saint Jacob.

                It is sad that further information about the monasteries of the town of Gurin in the province of Sepastia (Sivas) is missing. It looks like they did not have anything attractive and that the monks were not very well known.

                Fr. Hamazasp Voskian

                "The monasteries of Sepastia, Kharberd and Trabizon provinces," page 34-36, Vienna, 1962
                Plenipotentiary meow!


                • #9
                  Re: Gurun

                  All the content appears to have come from an even older site, which again no longer exists.
                  Plenipotentiary meow!


                  • #10
                    Re: Gurun

                    Didn't that website also have survivors' accounts? If we get the former webmaster's permission, perhaps they can be hosted here?