Hamshen Cultural Week in Armenia

By Ara Ashjian*

In the context of the cultural week dedicated to the heritage of Hamshen Armenians held in Yerevan
Hamshen Armenian ?Vova? Ensemble Fascinates the Attendees
On July 22, 2008, ?Vova? ethnographic ensemble presented a fascinating evening at the Narekatsi Art Institute. The concert came two hours after inaugurating a photo exhibition dedicated to Hamsheni Architecture at the Institute hall.

The ensemble, which consists of 8 Muslim Hamshen Armenians, has its first aboard concert in Armenia in Hamshen dialect. The Institute?s hall was full of attendees from Armenia and abroad. Following the concert, ensemble?s members and some attendees danced folklore dances.

It is noteworthy the ensemble released its first album titled ?Vova? in 2005.
International Conference: Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians. History and Culture
On July 23, 2008, the National Academy of Sciences – Institute of Oriental Studies and ?Yerkir? Union of  NGOs for Repatriation and Settlement have organized the international conference entitled: ?Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians: History and Culture? at the Congress Hotel in Yerevan.

The conference tackled various topics, dedicated to Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians history, culture, language and folklore.

Scientists (professors of oriental studies, linguists, ethnographers, historians and anthropologists) from Armenia, Russia and Turkey have taken part in the conference. The official language of the conference was the Armenian with simultaneous Turkish translation.

In the first session of the conference Rouben Melkonyan (Armenia) presented his research work entitled ?The Issue of Ethnic Identity in Turkey and the Hamshenians?; Dr. Erhan Gursel Ersoy (Turkey) presented ?The Economic, Social and Cultural Aspects of Identity of the Western Group of Hemshinlis?; Harutyun Marutyan (Armenia) presented ?Traumatic Memory as Major Factor of Preservation of the Armenian Identity in Turkey?.

In the second session Lusine Sahakyan (Armenia) presented her research work entitled ?The Linguistic Policy of the Ottoman Empire in the Armenian Hamshen District?; Aysenur Kolivar (Turkey) presented ?The Use of the Hemshinli Dialect in Western Hamshen?; Haykanush Mesropyan (Armenia) presented ?The Lexical Peculiarities of the Hamshen Dialect?; Karine Brutyan (Armenia) presented ?Observations on the Musical Heritage of the Hamshen Armenians?; Zhenya Khachatryan (Armenia) presented ?Dance as an Expression of Hamshen Rituals?; Harutyun Panosyan (Armenia) presented ?The Musical Compositions of the Hamshen Armenians?. 

In the third and last session of the conference Nvard Kochar (Armenia) presented her research work entitled ?The Place of the Hamshen Armenians in the System of Other Armenian Ethno-Territorial Groups?; Sergey Vardanyan (Armenia) presented ?On the History of Research of the Hamshen Armenians Converted to Islam?; Aleksan Hakobyan (Armenia) presented ?The New Critical Text of – History of Taron – by Hovhan Mamikonyan and the Source Basis of the Legend About Hamamashen?; Aleksandr Safaryan (Armenia) presented ?V. Gordlevskiy on the National – Religious Minorities of the Ottoman Empire and Process of Islamization?; Artavazd Tulumdjyan (Russia) presented ?The Hemshinlis (Homshentci) living in the Russian Federation – the Current Situation?; Margarit Hakhnazaryan (Armenia) presented ?The Armenian Architecture of Hamshen?.
Screening of Hamshen Films
On July 24, 2008, two Hamshen films were screened at the Narekatsi Art Institute. The first film entitled ?Momi-Grandmother? is directed by Ozdjan Alper and the second entitled ?Burdened by the Life? is directed by Yeshim Ustaoghlu. The two films are in Hamshen dialect and Turkish scripts.

*Iraqi Armenian Civil Engineer (M.Sc.), researcher and journalist settled in Yerevan, Armenia

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