H. F. B. (Harry Finnis Blosse) Lynch.

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a second time if the ceremony had been performed by a Greek
priest. All attempts to effect a union — and they have been
many and serious — have invariably failed. The more attractive
the offers of the Greeks, the greater grew the hatred of them ;
nor have the popes met with better success. They have added
costly objects to the treasury at Edgmiatsin ; the result remains
a blank. When we reflect that this obstinate people are as
intelligent as any in the world in the various pursuits of civilised
life, our anger at such conduct, which gave away the cause
of civilisation, may be tempered by a different feeling. The
Armenians have fought at all hazards to preserve their individu-
ality, and the bulk of the nation have perished in the attempt.
The remnant may be destined, like the son of Anak, to redress
the wrongs inflicted by their ancestors upon the common Christian
weal. On the other hand, the lesson which is taught by history
is that no nation and no Christianity will succeed with the
Armenians which endeavours to deflect them from their own
opinions and to preclude them from working out their own
salvation in their own way.^

^ My reader may consider thai 1 have been dealing too largely in ancient history.
My excuse is that the position remains much the same at the present day. The
differences between the Armenian and the Greek Churches are well summarised in a
note by the Mekhitarists to the famous address delivered by Nerses of Lambron in the
twelfth century to the council assembled at Romkla {Orazione sinodale di S. Nierses
Laniproneuse, Venice, 1812, p. 188). The Greek Church demanded that the Armenian
Church should : — i. Anathematise all those who assert that Christ has one nature. 2.
Confess Jesus Christ in two natures. 3. Not address the Trisagion to the Second
Person of the Trinity. 4. Celebrate the Dominical feasts in conformity with the Greek
Church. 5. Prepare the Chrism or Holy Oil with oil alone. 6. Celebrate the Holy
Communion with leavened bread and with water in the wine. 8. Receive the fourth,
fifth, sixth, and seventh Qicumenical Councils. 9. Receive the nomination of the
Armenian patriarch from the Greek Emperor. The attitude of the two Churches towards
one another is regretfully but most pithily summed up by the same Nerses of Lambron.
The Greeks thanked (]od that they were not like the Armenians ; and the Armenians
thanked God that they were not like the Greeks.

It has been generally supposed that the Armenians subscribed the Councils of

Edginiatsin and the Armenian CJuirch 315

Constantinople and Ephesus ; but I must repeat that this does not appear to have
actually been the case (see Ter-Mikelean, op. cit.).

Apart from dogma and ritual, the traveller notices a conspicuous difference between
the Greek and the Armenian Church at the present day. You will not find eikons in
Armenian houses, while no Russian house is without them. As regards the Church of
Rome, the dogmatic breach is even wider than with the Greek Church ; in common
with the latter the Armenian Church rejects the Filioqite. And of course it denies the
infallibility of the Pope.



October 14. — We left the cloister at half-past eight, our little
party of five persons including the Armenian cook. We had
hired in the district ten miserable ponies, of which five carried
our effects. The most direct way to Ani crosses the basal slopes
of Alagoz, from the southern to the most westerly extremities of
the shield-shaped mass. You proceed from Edgmiatsin in a
north-westerly direction, the ground rising at every step of your
advance. On the point of course, beyond oases of verdure in the
foreground, lie the stony and arid declivities of the mountain —
contours of immense length and low vaulting, joining the plain to
the horizontal outline in the sky. The belt of verdure consists
of fields of the cotton and the castor-oil plants, of patches of
orchard and vineyard, and sparse groves of poplar, rising from
the dusty and boulder-strewn waste. It is sustained by runnels
which exhaust the waters of the Kasagh or Abaran Su, the stream
which collects the scanty drainage of the volcano upon its eastern
flank. The boulders are worn by water and have been dispersed
by the swollen river, during the season of spring floods. Where
we crossed the Kasagh itself, or principal channel, it was a
languid and soil-charged body of water, threading these stony
tracts. We passed several villages within the irrigated area, some
inhabited by Armenians, others by Tartars, and a few by both
races alike. Hiznavuz, or Kiznaus, an Armenian settlement,
containing the State-school of the district, was the last of these
hamlets of the fertile zone. We stayed a few minutes before the
open windows of the schoolhouse, listening to a lesson given in
Russian to Armenian boys. Behind the village, a sterile eminence
leads over into the barren highlands which compose the pedestal
of Alaeoz.

To Alii and to Kars 3 1 7

The moderate elevation of these highlands above the plain of
the Araxes and their long extension from cast to west are
conditions favourable to the full appreciation of the landscape,
and of each new feature in the slo\vl3^-changing scene. Their free
position contributes to invest them with the character of a natural
gallery, which commands unbroken prospects over some of the
grandest works of Nature in her most inspired moods. The
European, whose conception of mountain scenery is founded upon
the arbitrary peaks and scattered valleys characteristic of his Alps,
who has looked with emotion upon the doubtful features of his
lowlands from the summit of some famous pass, can scarcely fail
to be deeply impressed by the attributes of a panorama in which
reliefs and depressions of stupendous scale are disposed as
members of a great design, and are seen in the pure atmosphere
of an Eastern climate with all the clearness of a model in clay.
At his feet lies a plain which is level as water, which in no very
remote geological period was covered by an inland sea. It is a
distance of some thirty miles to its opposite confines ; yet the
towns and the plantations are pencilled upon its surface as though
they had been traced by a draughtsman's pen. The plain is
bordered by the volcanic range which we have come to know as
the Ararat system — a chain of which the jagged and fantastic
outline is already familiar from many a rich sunset effect. The
summits rise to nearly 8000 feet above the campagna ; but how
humble they appear behind the train of the fabric of Ararat,
gathering immediately from the floor of the plain ! The bold snow
bastions of the north-western slope are seen in face from these
highlands ; and it is difficult to realise that the pronounced linea-
ments which compose that airy figure are removed by a space of
nearly forty miles. We had not yet lost sight of the line of
poplars which screens the cloister when the distinctive features of
this magnificent landscape were unfolded to our view. The
several ranges and mountain masses were disposed in the form of
an amphitheatre, of which we seemed to occupy one of the middle
tiers. In the east, along the Araxes, the crinkled buttresses of
the northern border were still visible, projecting in a southerly
direction beyond the cock-combed hill of Karniarch. In the west,
at an interval of sixty miles from those eminences, the level
ground extended to a double-peaked mountain which juts out
into the valley from the Ararat system, and is known under the
name of Takjaltu. Face to face with one another stood Alagoz

3i8 Arinenia

and Ararat. In the plain we could discern an isolated hummock,
north of the Araxes and bearing about south-west. It marks the
site of Armavir.

That this scene — in itself a world, and a world which fills the
mind with wonder — has of necessity been the theatre of momen-
tous events in the life of humanity, the traveller realises at a
single glance. His pious predecessors were surely justified in
accepting the ancient belief of the Armenians, that our first
father and mother loved and suffered in this plain.^ If we are to
.seek the site of Paradise within the limits of Armenia, neither the
Euphrates nor the Tigris crosses a country equally appropriate to
have been the earliest and fairest home of man. It looks the
land of hope which Noah tilled and planted with vineyards, the
second nursery of the human race. The Armenians, whose
mythical history connects them closely with Babylonia and Assyria,
who from the earliest times have been accustomed to receive
Jewish immigrants and to see Jewish colonies established in their
midst, must at a remote date have localised the events of the
Biblical narrative in this the most favoured of all their valleys and
at the foot of the loftiest of their mountains.^ If the Jewish
writings which they inherited were believed to have reference to
their native surroundings, it was only natural that they should
identify with the same districts the primeval setting of the later
creations of the Jewish mind ; the whole countryside became
hallowed by religious tradition ; nor need we feel surprise when
we read that a tree in the neighbourhood of Karakala on the
Araxes was believed to have sheltered Job and his three friends,^
When the horizon narrows and embraces the particular history of
the Armenians, we find that some of the first beginnings of their
history are placed within this fertile and spacious plain ; it was
the chosen seat of Armenak, the son or grandson of their
progenitor, Hayk, to which he descended from the mountains
about the head waters of the Euphrates, accompanied by his
whole race. Here were situated their most ancient cities, of

1 See especially Tournefort, Voyai^e du Levant, Paris, 171 7, vol. ii. p. 335 ; Parrot,
Reise ziiin Ararat, p. 83, and passim.

The ingenious botanist, Tournefort, was tickled by the question — suggested by the
tobacco fields through which he passed — whether the fragrant weed was included among
the plants of the terrestrial ]iaradise. Owing to the absence of olive trees in this region,
he is puzzled by the story of the dove and the olive branch.

- For the intercourse of the Armenians with the Jews I would refer my reader to
Ritter, Erdkiiitde, vol. x. pp. 586 seq.

•* Dubois, Voyage autottr dn Caiicasc, vol. iii. p. 44S.

To Alii and to Kars 319

some of which the relics still stand above ground and invite
discussion of which city they denote the site. Armavir, the
contemporary of Nineveh, with the grove of plane trees which
worked the magic of the oaks of Dodona, has been identified
with the ruins that are found on the little hillock which we dis-
tinguish from the detail of the landscape at our feet.^ Further
west, on the southern bank of the river, where it is enclosed by
rocky cliffs of basaltic lava, due to the passage of a lava stream,
modern travellers have discovered considerable remains of ancient
masonry, which have been utilised to build the castle of Karakala,
and which are still, I believe, in want of their older name."
Traces of the fortress of Ervandakert, and of Ervandashat, its
companion city, which were built in the first century of our era by
an Armenian monarch of Arsakid descent, have been remarked
on either bank of the Arpa river, the ancient Akhurean, where it
issues from the elevated country on the north of the Araxes and
effects its confluence at the head of this plain.^ In the days
when those cities flourished, the haughty Araxes was spanned by
bridges of which, here and there, a pier or a buttress still survives.'^
Below the lofty rock of Takjaltu lie the famous salt mines of
Kulpi, which have been exploited from immemorial times.

After leaving the Armenian village we continued in the same
direction over the barren highlands, in possession of the landscape
which I have endeavoured to describe. We were riding at walking
pace ; our immediate surroundings were indifferent to us ; nor
for the space of three hours did we meet a single settlement,
except here and there a group of Kurdish tents. When at mid-
day the clouds cleared above the summit of Alagoz, we remarked
that the fangs of its rocky core were invisible behind the bulging
contours of the outer sheath. Above us, upon those slopes, we
could discern some small green patches, which mark the site of
hamlets, peopled by Tartars and Armenians who eke out a scanty

1 Ibid. p. 419 ; and compare the account of this city given by Moses of Khorene.

^ See Ouseley's Travels, vol. iii. p. 450 ; Ker Porter's Travels, vol. ii. p. 640 ;
Dubois, op. cit. vol. iii. p. 446. Ouseley and Ker Porter thought that they were the
remains of Armavir. Dubois probably goes astray in assigning them to Tigranocerta.

•* Dubois, op. cit. vol. iii. p. 435 seq. On a hill at the confluence of the Arpa Chai
with the Araxes, and on the western side of the former river, this traveller found relics
of the ancient fortress of Ervandakert. It communicated with the Araxes by a
subterranean passage. Ervandashat was situated on the eastern bank, a little higher
up the stream.

* At Ervandakert and at Karakala, according to the testimony of Dubois. See also
Ker Porter {loc. cit. ) for the relics of the bridge at the latter place.

320 Armenia

subsistence on the mountain side. When we had reached a point
some thirteen miles in direct distance from Edgmiatsin, we
crossed a close succession of deep ravines. The first of these was
the most considerable of the three, and contained the broad bed
of a dry watercourse, which descends from the central mountain
mass. On the further side of the last among them we came upon
the remains of a large church, of great simplicity but of much
beauty of form. It was built of hewn stone, in the style of the
best Armenian architecture ; and the ancient frescos still stained
the walls of the apse. But the lofty dome had fallen in, leaving
nothing but a yawning circle, with fragments of cloud crossing
the blue above our heads. An inscription in the interior bears
the date '^']^ (Armenian era), which corresponds to the year
A.D. 1426. Just beyond this ruin is situated the little Armenian
village of Talysh, on the southern confines of which we visited
the remains of some towers which are probably of the same period
as the church, and which overlook the ravine upon the west.
Both the starshina and the priest of Talysh were absent from the
settlement ; the inhabitants professed complete ignorance of the
history of their antiquities, which, since they could neither read
nor write, was perhaps not feigned. The afternoon was well
advanced when we left this pleasant site ; a mist arose, and
developed into rain. In less than two hours we were glad to
find shelter in the Tartar village of Akhja Kala, a refreshing oasis
of green willows on these sterile slopes.

The essential majesty of the Armenian landscapes derives
enhanced value from the presence at all seasons of clouds. In this
respect Armenia is more favoured than Persia, where month after
month you long for a cloud to temper the glare. To the radiance
of her pellucid atmosphere is added the charm of effects of vapour ;
but the vapour has already been tamed in the passage of the
border ranges, and floats in quiet masses over the central regions
of the tableland. We awoke on the following morning to a
scene which is characteristic of the season and of this plain. The
whole valley of the Araxes was covered by a sheet of white mist,
and had the appearance of a vast sea. From invisible limits in
the west to the foot of the Ararat fabric the deceptive substance
followed the base of the mountains, as though we had suddenly
been introduced to that geological period when the waters washed
these rocky shores. In the east several islands rose above the
shining surface, eminences of the plain. The high ground upon

To Ani and to Kars 321

which we stood was bathed in pure sunlight, and all Nature was
intensely still.

As the morning advanced the vapours lifted or were dissolved ;
films of white cloud were wafted across the blue. We continued
our march over highlands of the same stony character as those
which we had traversed during the preceding day. But beyond
the village the land had been cleared in places, and wheat planted,
which was showing green above the ground. It is protected by
the snows which cover these slopes during winter, and it is reaped
in spring or early summer. The rocky heart of Alagoz was still
concealed behind the declivities which swept towards us, on our
right hand. In the great plain, which still lay beneath us, we
missed the stretches of pleasant verdure which in that direction
had become familiar to our eyes ; desert tracts, seared by gullies,
had taken the place of the gardens ; while further west the valley
was broken into hummock waves. A ground of oghre, washed in
places with rose madder — such were the colours which clothed
this naked expanse ; the delicate tints were continued up the
sides of the mountains which border the plain upon the south.
These lower slopes of the Ararat system receive the light at
sunrise ; and, being composed of a marly substance, which is
modelled into soft convexities, display a variety of tender hues.
Bold peaks, of which the summits had been strewn with snow
during the night, rise along the spine of the range ; but they are
dwarfed, even at this distance, by the fabric of Ararat. We could
discern on the west of the mountain the pass which leads to
Bayazid, and we had not yet lost sight of the mound of Armavir.
But it was evident that the even ground in the valley of the
Araxes was coming to an end. The western limits of the level
plain may be placed in the neighbourhood of Karakala ; and,
according to Dubois, the last canal which derives from the Araxes
waters the fields on the west of the village of Shagriar.^

Villages became less rare as we rounded the mass of the
mountain and opened a view over the country in the direction of
the Arpa Chai. An hour from Akhja Kala our attention was
attracted by a still distant eminence, rising above the shelving
land upon that side. It was the crag of Bugutu, which is prob-
ably due to a later eruption on the flank of Alagoz. We passed
two Tartar settlements, and crossed a couple of ravines, the first

^ Dubois, op. iit. vol. iii. pp. 421 and 449. Compare also Von Behagel's account
(fl/?/^ Parrot, op. ciL).


32 2 Ai'vienia

of which must have had a depth of nearly a hundred feet. It
contained a pleasant growth of lofty poplars and other trees, and
it was threaded by a babbling brook. When the prospect ex-
tended to the upper slopes of the mountain, we observed that
they were sprinkled with fresh snow. A stage of two and a half
hours brought us to the village of Talin, a prosperous and
picturesque little township at the foot of Bugutu (Fig. 6 1 ).

Both the Pristav and the priest were quickly forthcoming ; we
were by them conducted to a house which contained two storeys, and
which was the residence of the priest. While food was being pre-
pared, we were accompanied by our hosts in a walk round the place.
We were informed that it contained some thousand inhabitants, all

Fig. 61. Village of Talin, with Mount Bugutu.

of whom were Armenians. It possesses a church, but is still with-
out a school. The old prejudices survive, and it was impossible to
persuade the young women to submit to the camera. But Talin is
distinguished by the close proximity of a piece of architecture which
appears to date from the golden period of the Bagratid dynasty and
which ranks among the most charming examples of the Armenian
style. It is a church — they call it cloister [I'ank), and it perhaps
belonged to a monastery — which, although in ruins, is fairly well
preserved. The roof has fallen in ; the walls display wide
breaches ; but the masonry is still sharp and fresh, as when first
put together, and the traceries might just have undergone the
finishing touch. With its bold windows — no mere apertures- —
and bands of elegant sculpture, I thought it the most beautiful
building I had yet seen in Armenia. I reproduce some of these
chiselled mouldings of the exterior. The first, a vine pattern
(Fig. 62), belongs to the southern transept ; and the second

Fig. 62. Talin ; Mouldings on South Side of Huinous Church.

To Alii and to Kars 323

(Fig. 6-})), representing a pear or apple, is taken from that upon
the north. On the south side of the ruin we observed a sun-dial,
carved in stone ; and we were shown a square block, which had
been found among the debris, and upon which was sculptured a
relief, representing the Virgin and Child, attended by two angels.
A graveyard sur-
rounds the build-
ing ; some of the
old crosses have
been built into the
walls of the village
church. A little
on the east we
noticed the remains
of a small chapel.
The ground was
strewn with fallen
stones, some red,
others grey- — the
two colours which
are so skilfully
blended or placed
in contrast by
Armenian archi-
tects upon the
broad, undecorated
spaces of their
walls. We enquired
the history of the
ruin, and were referred to a partially defaced inscription on one
of the piers which once supported the dome. It mentions the
name of King Sembat, a member of the Bagratid dynasty, which
reigned from the ninth to the eleventh century.^ The grandfather
of the priest informed us that both the monastery and the church
had been maintained up to a comparatively recent period. He
said that the priests had fled during the campaign of Paskevich,
since which date the buildings had been allowed to fall into decay.
Ker Porter, who crossed the district on his way from Ani to
Edgmiatsin, mentions the existence in this neighbourhood of

Fig. 63.


Church at Talin.

^ Probably Sembat II. (a.D. 977-
cathedral at Ani.

), the monarch who laid the foundations of the



extensive ruins — the deserted relics of two churches, of walls and

houses, which he saw at a distance, but
did not stay to examine. He calls the
place Talys, and Ritter hazards the
conjecture that these may have been
the remains of Bagaran.^ That city,
which was founded by the same
monarch who gave his name to Ervan-
dakert and Ervandashat, became a
royal residence of the Bagratid dynasty,
and at the end of the fourteenth cen-
tury of our era still continued to exist.
We did not
in the vicinity
of Talin ; but
the c o r r e-
spondence of
name sug-
gests that
Ker Porter's
account may
have been
called forth
by the former
condition of
the site which
we visited.

It was evident that these highlands had

been the seat of a flourishing civilisation,

later in date than that which produced

the vanished cities of the plain. First at

Talysh and next at Talin we discovered

traces of this mediaeval culture, of which

the evidence was lavished upon us when

we had reached the banks of the Arpa,

at Ani and at Khosha Vank.

The upper chamber of the priest's

house and the company therein assembled recalled the simplicity

' Ker Porter, op. cit. vol. i. p. 178 ; Ritter, Erdkiiitdc, vol. x. p. 449.

Fig. 64.

Tartar Khan at

Fig. 65. Pristav of Talin.

To Ani and to Kars


of the early Christian times. Our host was still a young man,
and his natural capacities had not been blunted by indigence and
ill-treatment. His villagers were well off, and appeared to live
on terms of friendship with their neighbours of Tartar race. A
Tartar khan, a grandee of the district, happened to be visiting
the place on business (Fig. 64) ; and
we were glad to see that his inter-
course with the principal people was
marked by tokens of mutual respect.
His grave face and dignified figure
contrasted with the vivacity of the
Armenians ; his presence added to
the interest of the group which I
photographed, and which included
the Pristav (Fig. 65) and the priest
(Fig. 66). Neither the official head
of the village nor our clerical ac-
quaintance possessed any education,
except what had been provided by
an Armenian primary school. But
both, and especially the former, were
men of great intelligence, and did
honour to the peasant class from
which they had sprung.

We were in want of another pony,
which we were able to hire at Talin ;
his owner, a Tartar belonging to
Akhja Kala, accompanied or followed
us on foot (Fig. Gj). Measured on
the map, it is a distance of sixteen
miles from the village to the point
at which we struck the Arpa Chai.

Online LibraryH. F. B. (Harry Finnis Blosse) LynchArmenia, travels and studies (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 49)