Armenian Jerusalem
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
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THE SAGA of Jerusalem’s Armenians  Chronicles Life in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, when its streets and alleys were awash with humanity, had always been an exciting adventure, filled with noise, laughter, bonhomie, music and the occasional tears. The travails in the pockets of unrelenting poverty were overshadowed by the sense of pervading security. The Quarter was a veritable ghetto where strangers rarely set foot. Although its denizens were always venturing forth on various shopping or other errands, few strangers had any business there in the first place!  Art and Culture The Armenians of Jerusalem have produced some of the entire Middle East's most evocative masterpieces of ceramic and pottery art, carrying on the tradition of the incomparable Kutayha tradition. The names of the families which have inherited this legacy have become engraved in the memory not only of the region, but the world as well. For all those who love pottery, Balian and Karakashian represent the epitome of perfection, with Sandruni a relative newcomer. But the artistic legacy of Jerusalem's Armenians goes beyond that: their artists have not only captured the magic of the Old City and its environs in wax and clay, but also on film, canvas and other media. Their skill has encompassed not only Jerusalem, but the international scene as well, with the composer and conductor Ohan Dourian and professor Apraham Terian in the vanguard. Our literature has been a sporadic eruption of talent, with poetry as the favored genre: Kevork Jinivizian has produced several slim volumes of sensitive and profoundly touching poems but fiction writers have been less visible. On the other hand, journalism seems to have attracted a noticeable number of kaghakatsis, among them Johnny Zakarian in the US. The late Khatcho Khatchadourian was instrumental in helping launch an English-language newspaper, The Daily News in Kuwait, while Aram Belian joined Israel TV and attained distinction as an editor on their Arabic news program.  THE AMBIENCE The Convent of St James, seat of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, perches on the site a of the encampment of the Xth Legion of Rome.  The unique, sometimes esoteric, traditions of the Armenians of Jerusalem set them distinctly apart from their neighbors, although some do have common ground with them: like kissing the hands of elders as a sign of respect and obedience. They had a special ceremony celebrating a child’s first tooth, the “hadigaseghan.” And both Easter and Christmas were occasions for real culinary extravagance. “Basturman” is something else.   Traditions It is recognized as the most magnificent Christian edifice in the whole of the Holy Land, its history going back to over a millennium. It remains the second most significant fount of spiritual rejuvenation for Armenains, after their Mother Church, at Etchmiadzin. Read on Read on
Heroic defenders of the Armenian compound