Saturday, November 1, 2008

While there are some who shout with raised fists and proclaim their patriotism, be they politicians, singers, etc., others silently do their work, in Armenia and abroad, usually without acclaim.

The accompanying picture is taken from a hill near Dadivank, a classically built monastery on the border of Mardakert and Kelbajar. The picture was taken from where a freedom fighter lives, one who fought for the lands on which he now lives…a patriot in the true sense of the word. Should there ever be the need to defend this land, this former fighter would no doubt again take up arms, unlike the many who have left their land and villages in Karabagh under the care of their parents and grandparents, thus seemingly sealing the fate of these villages.

Related to this would be the group of Dashnak freedom fighters who expressed their thoughts about the current negotiations concerning the Karabagh conflict on Dashnaktsutyun’s Yerkir Media television. Listening to these fighters and their concerns about being forced to give up the liberated territories, and their own leaders being part of the ruling coalition, which could soon decide to give up these lands as part of a peace deal, I wondered how their leaders could even possibly follow a different path as these freedom fighters, those who sacrificed life and limb for the liberation and defense of their homeland.

We were recently introduced to another type of patriot by opera singer Barsegh Tumanyan, who showed us his copy of Ancient Pagan Bible: The Brave (Crazy) of Sassun and told us about his friend, Artur Armin (Babayan), the book’s author. Armin, now living in Los Angeles, has gone to great lengths to uncover the ancient nature of the Armenian epic, also proving that the epic “Sassuntsi Davit” is far older than believed, and that the story of Sassuntsi Davit running the Arabs out of Armenia is only the modern version of a much older epic story. Armin goes so far as to show similarities in time and style to ancient Egyptian and other epics, part of his proof that the Sassuntsi Davit epic has roots long before what has been taught by Soviet scholars and others.

It is curious that during Soviet times, when singers and tellers of these fables were still living, that most of them were from Moush and Shatakh (Vaspurakan), while none with roots in Sassoun were found that knew the epic fables. I found all this even more interesting being that I had heard the songs associated with Sassuntsi Davit performed by Hayrik Mouradian (in recordings), in recordings by Akunk (sung by Hasmik and her brother Aleksan) and by members of Hasmik’s Hayrik Mouradian Children’s Folk Song and Dance Ensemble, songs in which I heard the names Sanasar, Baghdasar, Msra Melik, and Sassuntsi Davit, all members of a tribe of which Sassuntsi Davit is one of its members.

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