Saturday, August 31, 2002

Letter 08: Ara ler and Raffi s khente

Saturday, August 31, 2002

We went with the Habitat project to a small village on Ara ler, above Ashtarak , to help a family insulate the roof over their house. We spent the whole day working with the family and they prepared a great happy meal for us which we ate outdoors. It was tiring but pleasant.
On the way back, we visited the Church in Oshakan. It is the church where St. Mesrop Mashtots (the inventor of the Armenian Alphabet) is buried. It has a special Byzantian style architecture, unlike other Armenian churches I have seen so far. Oshakan is a stone’s throw from Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Katoghikos, and was an ancient pagan city. People living there often find old pagan statues whenever they undertake an excavation.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

I went with Badal to Saralandj, a small village on Ara Ler (King Ara Keghetsig’s mountain). On the way, we stopped in Ara Kyough, where Badal pointed to me a bust statue of “Khente”, see photo.
The inscription on the pedestal says “Sasnon Boghos DerBoghossian 1846-1911”. Apparently it was erected in 1974 by the local villagers most of whom came from the same region as Raffi’s Khente.

We then went up the valley to Sourp Nishan Church with is again in ruins, after being reconstructed by Kouyr Viktor, a nun from Etchmiadzin, who was saved with other Armenian orphans in 1915, but who had doubts on whether her own family were Christian Armenians or Yezdis. The Church is on a hill dominating the Kassakh river valley (the same river that goes through Saghmosavank). The church is also called “Asdvadz-engal”