By Assadour Guzelian
The above is the title of the book comprising over 500 pages of photographs (30X25 cm) authored by the famous Armenian photographer Hrair Hawk Khacherian and dedicated to the memory of his grandparents Bedros Babian Babikian, Gulizar Cholakian, Nerses Khacherian and Sultan Mamigonian. At the end of his preface the author mentions that the “book is a gift to the memory of the victims of the Genocide, and a gift of our rich cultural heritage to you.”
The first publication of the book has been financed by the author himself. The second edition is sponsored by Haig and Elza Didizian, who have expressed their appreciation to the author with the following words;
“Our heartfelt gratitude to Hrair Hawk Khacherian for his years of unparalleled dedication and perseverance that culminated in the publication of this exceptional historical work that will, for generations to come, be greatly appreciated by Armenians and non-Armenians alike.
May humanity always remember those men, women and children who lost their lives during the Genocide of the Armenian people, with the hope that history will not repeat itself and that human beings will learn to live together in peace and harmony, respect each other and overcome religious, ethnic and cultural differences.”
Hrair Hawk Khacherian was born in 1961. His grandfather, who was born in Zaytoun, survived the Genocide and settled in his grandson’s birth place, Beirut, Lebanon. Hawk left Lebanon in 1984 and settled in Canada.
His first visit to Armenia was in 1992, when he witnessed the heroic struggle of the Artsakh Armenians for the independence of their fatherland. In 1993, before leaving Artsakh, he assured his friends that he would soon be back and continue his work there. On his return to Canada the doctors discovered cancer in his lungs and gave him 10 days to live! Hrair swore on the cross and made a vow that if God helped him overcome his illness, he would dedicated his entire life to photographing Armenian churches world-wide! Khacherian fought and defeated the cancer, astonishing the medical world. In keeping with his vow, he visited, besides Armenia and Cilicia, more than 40 countries from U.S.A. to Australia, photographing Armenian churches. He has published his works in 12 books such as “Artsakh: A photographic Journey” 1997), “Karabagh: 100 Photos for Independence” (2002), “Yergir” (2005, “Armenian Ornamental Art with Armen Kyurkchian” (2010), “Armenian Ornamental Scrips” (2012), “One Church, One Nation” (2013) etc.
Hrair also gave lectures, organized exhibitions and conferences all over the world.
The introduction of the book is written by Claude Mutafian, famous mathematician and historian, a member of the National Academy of Armenia, who, since 1980 has dedicated himself to the study of the history of the Armenians and Armenia, as well as neighboring countries.
Mutafian has noted in his introduction;
“A century ago a Genocide took place over the course of two years, effectively eradicating a people that had, for several millennia inhabited Eastern Anatolia. These were the Armenians of Western Armenia. Considering the persistent efforts made by the Turkish government to erase every last trace of the Armenian presence, one can say that the Genocide effectively lasted decades, up to and including, the present day.”
Included in the book are also articles by Gabriella Uluhogian (“Armenian Language and the Armenians”) a famous author and professor of Armenian Studies, a member of the National Academy of Armenia since 2008, Dikran Kouymjian, (“Reliquaries of the Armenian Church”) a well-known writer, publisher, editor and professor, and Prof. Hamlet L. Petrosyan (“Armenian Cross-Stones”) Head of the Department of Cultural Studies, Yerevan State University.
The book “100-1915-2015” contains photographs of cultural monuments, churches, monasteries, fortresses, coins, needlework, handicrafts, church vestments, carpets, artistic objects created by Armenian silversmiths and goldsmiths, frescos, carvings, manuscripts, cross-stones, cities, villages and many more, taken by Hrair Hawk Khacherian during the last 17 years all over the world. Relevant information is given about the photographs in English, Armenian and French.
The following cities of Armenia and Cilicia are listed on the cover of the book, indicating that the author has seen and photographed them;
ADANA. VAN. SIS. TOKAT. MALATYA. ANI. KUTAHYA. AGN. MOUSH. PALU. KARS. ARDAHAN. SASOUN. KHIZAN. ERZURUM. TRABIZON. SIVAS. ARARAT. KAYSERLI. TOMARZA. BITLIS. AITAB. MARASH. KHARPERT. OLTU. URFA. ZAYTOUN.
I could write much more about the captivating pictures exhibited in the book, but to correctly depict this unique publication, I must confess even a rich language like the Armenian does not possess the necessary vocabulary! It is essential to see, to feel and enjoy each and every one of those mesmerizing pictures, which reflect not only the Armenian history, but also the spirit of our forefathers! In looking at the ruins of Rome one reconstructs the temples and palaces in one’s imagination, in the same manner viewing Hrair Khacherian’s photos one recreates the past glory of our churches, monasteries, fortresses, villages and cities! Armenian history and the soul of our people is reflected in Hrair Hawk’s pictures!
Let us give the last words to the author;
“In this book, I have captured images collected over more than 30 trips. These are images of towns, villages, monasteries, manuscripts, household items and other artifacts of various styles and colors made by skilled masters. Here, I share with you that which has interested and inspired me, with the hope and belief that it will interest and inspire you too.”
“The tree is known from the fruit it bears” says the Bible.
I bow to you with gratitude for the magnificent book of unique historical value you have produced with dedication, hard work and perseverance.