History of Khoshmat - Dr. Mardiros H. Chakoian

Editorial note


Vartan Vartanian


Chapter 1: Palu and the fort

Chapter 2: Monasteries and Sanctuaries


Chapter 1: Education in Palou

Chapter 2: United Association of Armenians in Palou

• Havav

• Nerkhi

Chapter 3

• Villages of Palou

• Statistics of Palou Armenian-inhabited villages

• The Great Earthquake of Palou


Chapter 1

• Khoshmat

• The Holy Mother of God Church

• The Church of Khoshmat

• Priests

Chapter 2 : Sanctuaries

• Abdul-Mseh (Donag)

• Holy Cross

• Holy Cathedral

• St. Giragos

• St. Mangig

Chapter 3

• Springs

• Field Springs

• Humanlike Stones

Chapter 4

• Tbrotsasirats Association and the School of Khoshmat

• Teachers (1880-96)

• The First Graduates of the School of Khoshmat

• The Last Graduates of Khoshmat’s High School (1913-1914)

• Khoshmat Through My Eyes

Chapter 5: The Intellectuals of Khoshmat

• Arakel Babajanian

• Bedros effendi Fermanian

• Hampartsoum Oulousian

• Vahan Oulousian

• Vartan Dirad

• Garabed Klanian

• Sarkis B. Klanian

• Toros Klanian

• Bedros Papazian

• Boghos H. Chakoian

• Haroutiun Vartanian

• Manoug Dzaghigian

• Kapriel Frangian

• Dikran Ghazaros Bedigian

• Hagop Ghazaros Bedigian

• Mikayel Khodjoian

• Boghos Deradourian

• Hampartsoum Harutounian (Bournousouzian)

• Bethlehem Markarian (Shaghougian)

• Mgrdich Malian

• Boghos Papazian

• Karekin Garabedian

• Father Manoug Khodjoian

• Hovhannes Klanian

Chapter 6 : The Important Initiatives of the Tbrotsasirats Association of Khoshmat

Chapter 7 : Ladies Auxiliary Society of Khoshmat

Chapter 8 : Architects

• Aznavour Efendi Khodjoian

• Toros Khalifa Malian (Ghazarian) Kara Toros

• Mardiros Ghazarian

• Simon Khalifa Bedigian or Melkonian

• Arakel Milidosian

• Garabed Milidosian

• Sahag Oulousian

• Haji Krikor Milidosian

• Donabed Khabloian (Arghntsonts)

• Markar Shaghougian

• Kokona Vartan

Chapter 9 : Various types of crafts

• Joinery

• Masonry

• Carpeting

• Pottery

Chapter 10 : Manufacturing

• Oil presses of Khoshmat

• Hand Millstone

• Fruits

• Vegetables


Chapter 1 : Traditions and Customs

• New Year

• Christmas

• Paregentan

• Easter

• Wedding

• Life of the Bride

• Songs

• Popular Medicine

• Wishes and blessings

• Curses

• Things portending misfortune

• Dream interpretation

• Riddles

• Sayings (Fables)

• Provincial Proverbs (Talks)

• Commonly used phrases

• Games (for boys)

• Words of wisdom from the elderly people

Chapter 2 : Historic Characters and Famous Events

• Father Khachadour Shiroian

• Father Reteos Simonian

• Mardiros Shahen Chakoian

• Sarkis effendi Dzaghigian’s royal medal

• Boghos Harutounian

• Nazar Nazarian

• The Power of the Pitchfork and Khachig Chakoian

• How Sarkis Vartanian Drowned

• Fragment of Soukias Depoian’s Life

• How We Left Khoshmat and The Intercession of St. Mangig in 1896

• Farewell of Seven Young Men

• Fragments of Simon Simonian’s Life

• Abduction of Paro (A Group of Pilgrims)

• Tax Collectors

• Incident with Bedros Simonian

• Interesting Memoirs of Krikor Der Khachadourian (Koko)

• Mardiros Shaghougian (Kaloian) - One of His Episodes

• Fragment of Sarkis Shahin Chakoian’s Life

• Hagop Tatigian (Ali Baba)

• Haroutiun Deradourian and the Incident with the Box of Eggs

• The herdsman of Khoshmat, by Sarkis Shahrigian

• An Interesting Incident in the Life of the Herdsman


Chapter 1 : Notorious Beys of Palou

• Keor Abdullah bey

• Khoshmatlian Dynasty and Beys

Chapter 2

• Khoshmat Resistance – 1897

• The Bloody Fight

• Trial of the Beys

• The End of the Beys

• The Meliks of Khoshmat

Chapter 3 : The Order to Begin the Massacre

• The Role of Garabed Klanian and Misak Shaghougian (Kaloian)

• Khachadour Shiroian’s memoirs (From Canada)

• Mgrdich Taraian (from Marseille): Taken from his Bloody Memoirs

• Apkar Simonian

• Baghdasar Deradourian (from Marseille): Memoirs

Chapter 4

• Soldiers of Khoshmat

• Khoshmat Volunteers

• A Fragment of Volunteer’s Life

• A Fragment of Benjamin Shaghougian’s Life (A Volunteer)

• Other Soldiers Native of Khoshmat

Chapter 5 : Photos of Khoshmat Armenians

Chapter 6 : People of Khoshmat in Constantinople (Taken from the notes of the late Toros Klanian)

Chapter 7 : People of Khoshmat in Diaspora

• People of Khoshmat in France

• People of Khoshmat in Soviet Armenia

• People of Khoshmat in Syria

• People of Khoshmat in Canada

• People of Khoshmat in America


Weddings in villages are truly beautiful and last for 7 days. Weddings in Palu are very similar to each other and usually take place in winter, when the villagers don’t work in the fields and spend time with their families instead.

Some people clean cotton bolls (kujej,) card the cotton with a bow, separate the cotton seeds, work with spindles (masoora,) shuttle (makok,) and spinning wheel, or make canvas, wooden spoons and plates, while others shear animals.

The elderly people gather together to talk on different topics, spinning kariman  at the same time. The women and young ladies gather in the warm stable. They are usually busy with needlework. One of the elderly ladies tells interesting stories about demons, devils and hell. When she starts telling the story of two young lovers and the obstacles they must overcome, these girls find it hard to hide their tears. This is how the villagers spend winter in Palu.

The weddings usually take place before Paregentan and in rare cases after Easter. Several weeks before the wedding the couple’s families start preparations. The news about the coming wedding spreads in the village at the speed of light. Sometimes the priest makes an announcement, inviting the villagers to church.

One or two people from each household of the village should be present in the wedding (at least on one of the seven days,) otherwise their absence will be considered disrespect.

On the wedding eve girls and young married women surround the bride and apply henna to her hands. Then they apply it to their own fingers, foreheads, and hair. They open a special box filled with the hats (talig,) skirts, colorful aprons, socks, and silk veils made by the bride herself. Then they put the gifts brought by relatives into this box and close it. The female friends of the bride bathe her, sometimes pouring either very hot or cold water over her head with the hope to experience the same happiness themselves one day. Sometimes when the water is lukewarm, the ladies pour it over the bride’s head saying: "Let her overcome all her fears." Then the girls start weaving the bride’s hair using golden hair ties. If the girl is poor, they use colorful hair ribbons instead of the golden ones.

The godmother and the bride have a private conversation with each other as the girl needs to remember all customs and traditions of the village. Here is the godmother’s advice to the girl:

-My daughter, Varto (Vartuhi), tomorrow is the best day of your life. Many girls would give everything to be in your place. You are no longer a little girl, tomorrow you will get married so do your best to defend the honor of your parents. Don’t do anything that will make your future family members regret letting you in their house. Never oppose your mother-in-law, father-in-law or sister-in-law. Always be humble. Don’t talk to anyone yet. Next day you will be allowed to talk to your husband, but only at night and in a very low voice. Sometimes you can talk to the children without lifting up your veil, which you can take off only at night when you go to bed. If your husband offers you to ride a horse, turn your back slightly, and put your shoulders down. And one more thing, don’t forget to put one of your feet on your husband’s foot; this way he will live longer. Our ancestors say: "If you want to die earlier than me, never put your foot on mine."

Darling, please remember that you are not allowed to talk. What can we do? This is a tradition! If you really need to say something, go somewhere else and share your thoughts with the wall, a beehive, or a pillar; they will understand you. If one of the elderly people asks you something, shake your head, put your teeth together, and keep your tongue behind your teeth. That gesture will mean “no”.  In the evening undress everyone, young and old, and take them to bed. Untie the shoelaces of the guests, take off the shoes, and wash their feet with warm water if your father-in-law wishes so.

You are the one who will put out the oil lamp. In the morning, get up with the call of the rooster and light the lamps. First you need to work on the spinning wheel of your mother-in-law and then wake up all the family members, help them to get dressed, and pour some water on their hands for them to get washed and bless you for your help.

If you ever get into trouble, don’t tell anyone about that. Wait for me to visit you and share your secrets with me instead. I will try to comfort you. Smile, now you need to go and see your parents to receive their blessings.

Vartuhi comes up to her father with her head held down to tell him goodbye and take her dowry. She knees before her father and starts kissing his hands. Her father caresses his daughter’s hair, blessing her and saying: "Vartuhi, keep the honor of our family and make sure to respect the old and the young. Don’t give a chance to our enemies to laugh at us. Never complain about anything. If you ever dare to come to me with tears in your eyes, I swear I will get very angry; I will beat you and take you back to your house." This shows the deep and unexplainable connection between parents and children.

The preachings of parents help the young generation to be happily married. Other essential family values are selflessness and humbleness. Marriages based on these principles can last a lifetime.

The new clothes of the groom should also be blessed. The priest, surrounded by the chorists, blesses the new clothes of the groom with fragrant incense, holding a cross in his hands and whispering the Lord’s Prayer.

This scene is followed by another even more interesting ceremony. The groom is asked to stand at the center of the room. Each of the guests gives a compliment to him while others sing and dance, making the ceremony even more exciting. The honor of helping the groom get dressed belongs to the godfather. He starts with the shirt and continues dressing the groom while singing familiar songs:

(Referring to the family of the groom)
Asek shunavor, pesan shunavor,
Klanents dzarn e dzaghger shunavor,
De haktsutsek shabig shunavor,
Asek shunavor, pajgon shunavor,
Tallige klkhoon trek shunavor

Yergar jamanag sndoogn sbasadz,
Haktsootsek koolban kooyrigen hyusvadz,
Togh hakni koolban, pesan shunavor.

Kaghken e pervadz, yamanign aghvor,
Baboon tramov hakni shunavor

Arek shunavor abrshoon kodin,
Blletsek mechke baba gudrijin.
Trek kutage, nashkhoon hloonov.
Hyusvadz e harsin parag madnerov.

Dvek aylakhe, garmir gaboodig
Pesin ge vayle haknil khadoodig,
Gakhetsek tooru mechken kach pesin,
Togh bahban gankni as dan namoosin.
Pesan shunavor, tooru shunavor.

Taku medz takavorin
Asdghu baydzar takavorin
Tsiyu vaghoog takavorin
Sooru gdroog takavorin
Yergnits antsrev, kedni bdoogh, losh, losh, losh, losh

The long and shining sword hanging from the back of the groom has a special meaning and history. As the legend goes a priest from Khoshmat took a sword from one of the sultans of Constantinople and brought it to Palu on condition that the sword would be used only for wedding ceremonies. The groom is allowed to carry the sword with him for 8 days in order to protect the honor of his family and kill anyone who will dare to have malicious intentions towards the bride.

There are even songs - like the one mentioned above - about this tradition. In the meantime the women and girls surround the bride, helping her put on the wedding dress. One can hear people playing davool zoorna  outside, shouting: "We want to see the bride!" Tears fall down the face of the poor bride.

The bride’s mother hugs her daughter and says through tears: "How difficult it is to give your daughter to someone else! I am in distress! Go away, let me kiss my Vartouhi!” Mother and daughter hug each other and start crying again. Finally, the bride says: "Dear Mother, you gave me a life and dear Father, you didn’t let me die of hunger." She kisses her father’s hand and he responds: "My lovely daughter, you deserve it." This tough man finds it hard not to burst into tears. "Let me kiss you, dear. You are our daughter; you’re going to be a great wife. Don’t disappoint us and defend the honor of our family. I don’t want you to experience any sufferings in your life. May God always guide you!” says the father, wrapping a golden necklace around his daughter’s neck. Thanking her father four thousand times, the bride gives him warm kisses, promising to always follow his advice.

Now it’s the bride’s mother turn to give advice: "Varto, never leave the house without permission, always keep your head down and your mouth closed. Keep silent even if you are tormented, stay in good terms with everyone in your family, never talk bad about your family members, and never complain about them to me.”

The relatives and neighbors find it very hard to part the bride from her parents. Finally, they get the parents out of the room by force. Suddenly one of the old ladies shouts: "Why are you crying so bitterly? She is not going to be killed. Stop crying right now; your neighbors may hear you. It’s a shame! Your daughter is so lucky. May God bless our daughter with the same happiness!" Then she grabs the bride by her hand saying: "Varto, darling, it’s time to go."

The bride gets on the white horse and the crowd moves to church where the groom is waiting for them. The priest starts the wedding ceremony. He brings their heads closer and ties their right hands with a red rope (khaytan). The groom puts the edge of the sword on the toes of the bride’s right leg to show his power and masculinity.

The girl doesn’t forget her godmother’s advice; she immediately puts one of her feet on the foot of the groom with the intention to live a long life. After congratulations, the wedding ceremony ends.

More often than not several wedding ceremonies take place on the same day. The couple is led to the door of the church by the godfather who is holding a cross in his hands: deacons and scribes accompany the couple carrying cymbal and thurible with them. The bride and groom get on the horse and the crowd moves on. (The newly married couples from poor families walk instead of riding a horse.) The crowd slowly walks to the couple’s relatives’ houses (including their godfather.) As a sign of respect these families lay a table for their guests, take out wine vessels and treat them with sweets, walnuts, almonds, dried mulberries, pastegh, fig and so on. The crowd walking before the couple sings the king’s song. Wandering in the streets for hours, they reach the groom’s family’s house. The bride and groom get off the horse and the crowd makes way for the newly married couple to walk toward the house. They are followed by their godfather, godmother and maidservants. If the groom’s father is rich, he throws money from the balcony. Little boys push each other to take the money. Reaching the threshold, the couple stops for a while waiting for the lambkin to be slaughtered in their honor. Poor families usually slaughter a rooster instead. The bride and groom enter the house over the blood. They enter a large hall where they see several tables full of various dishes, drinks and fruits.

The groom stands under a huge pillar with a sword in his right hand (which he puts on his right leg) and a white silk handkerchief in the left one (between his thumb and forefinger) which he brings close to the lips. With his head held high the groom stands this way for hours to wash away all his sins. The bride stands next to the women and sometimes sits on the box filled with the presents given by the guests. This day the poor bride understands what being patient and obedient actually means. In the meantime the girls and women surrounding the bride dance and have fun. The young unmarried girls ask the bride to bless them so that they can also get married soon. The bride waits for the next ceremony.

Weddings of rich families usually last for seven days. One can constantly hear the sound of the trumpet and drum. Weddings of poor families last only 3 days. Spending a week in her godmother’s house, the bride joins the groom’s family. Now the bride is a part of her husband’s family and she is at everyone’s service.