The Woman in the Wall: A Story of People, Places, and Things

Special to the Armenian Weekly

In 2005, a Turkish workman named Murat finds a dusty postcard hidden behind the wooden panels of a wall in an old house in south-central Turkey, in the city of Antep (Gaziantep).

Image of the postcard found in the wall of an Armenian home in Ayntap: Heghine, the widow of Kevork Chavoush, with Mauser handgun in her right hand and a shortened-barrel (or stage prop) Mosin rifle in her left
Image of the postcard found in the wall of an Armenian home in Ayntap: Heghine, the widow of Kevork Chavoush, with Mauser handgun in her right hand and a shortened-barrel (or stage prop) Mosin rifle in her left

On the front of the postcard is the black-and-white image of a woman in a long black dress; she’s holding a handgun in her right hand and a rifle in her left. Bandoliers are wrapped across her chest and around her waist. Nearly lost among the bullets and leather is a round brooch or medallion above her left breast.

In English, at bottom-left, is an embossed signature, “M. H. Halladjian,” and at bottom-right is a place name, “Aintab Asia-Minor.” On the back of the postcard is handwriting in a language that’s alien to Murat; only a part of a date is comprehensible: 1910.

* * *

Halfway through the first week of a draining two-week “pilgrimage” through historic Armenia, on May 26, 2013, our group of 12 Armenian “pilgrims” arrives in Antep (Ayntap, or Aintab, in Armenian). Our guide, Armen Aroyan, explains that the city was renamed Gaziantep—”Heroic Antep”—for having repulsed British and French armed forces in 1921, during the war of “liberation” that resulted in the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.

As we drive through the city, it seems vaguely familiar, though I’ve never been here before. I can see parts of Beirut and Aleppo in both the old and the new buildings, the dusty cobblestoned streets, the small shops lining them.

Our van pulls up to an imposing structure overlooking a main street. It’s the Sourp Asdvadzadzin (“Holy Mother of God”) Church, built in 1892, now converted to a mosque and renamed Kurtuluş Camii (“Liberation” mosque), Armen explains. After the long drive from Musa Dagh in our brand new Mercedes passenger van, we gladly begin to exit. My son, Garin Shant, my youngest, bounds out like a falcon fleeing a gilded cage; others, including my father, move out wearily, stretching old muscles that have grown accustomed to the inertia of sitting and waiting. All of us gradually make our way up, toward the church-mosque.

Using a magnifying glass, one is able to almost fully make out Heghine's medallion/brooch, of a coat of arms consisting of a banner, on top of which are assembled a sword, feather pen, and spade, and three Armenian initials below them: Հ Յ Դ. (A.R.F.)
Using a magnifying glass, one is able to almost fully make out Heghine’s medallion/brooch, of a coat of arms consisting of a banner, on top of which are assembled a sword, feather pen, and spade, and three Armenian initials below them: Հ Յ Դ. (A.R.F.)

The wooden doors on the side of the building, facing us, are locked. The members of the group move on in various directions around the building, taking pictures. I walk to the “front” of the church-mosque, toward a wide walkway/courtyard overlooking the street; I’m actually at the back of the church, behind the altar, I find out later. Leaning against the railing I look over the edge. Across the street, I can see half-standing ruins of large houses with red clay roof tiles, and I notice a small, cross-shaped opening or window—then another. Considering their proximity to the church, and their grand size, they must be formerly Armenian-owned homes, I think to myself. I take pictures of them with my iPhone, knowing full well that I am too far to be able to capture the images of the windows.

I hear, then see, a small old man off to the side, behind me, sweeping the ground. His faded, oft-torn and oft-mended clothes hang loosely on his small frame; his shoes, too, are worn. For a split second I think he’s wearing a shalvar and pabuches.

He sweeps seemingly in slow motion, in half-hearted, incomplete strokes; just as likely, he’s simply too old, his range of motion limited, his limbs atrophied and no longer limber. I greet him with my nearly nonexistent Turkish and try to ask whether the mosque is open.

He motions that I follow… He’s dealt with tourists before. I follow. His pace is maddeningly slow. He doesn’t walk. He shuffles. Haltingly. I slow my pace to match his; he has the key, after all. And I don’t want to be rude, to imply with eager steps that he should walk more quickly. But I’m restless—have been for the entire trip so far—as if wanting to quickly reach the next place, then the next and the next, but also wanting to stay, absorb the essence of each site, to feel a part of it. Yet I can do neither.

Eventually, the old man reaches the wooden doors, in the meantime having built a small following of pilgrims curious to see what lies within the church-mosque. The doors creak and slowly swing open. The old man steps in, takes off his dusty shoes, and places them on a rack. We follow him in and take off our shoes, too.

Hand-written Armenian text behind the postcard discovered in the wall of an Armenian home in Ayntap
Hand-written Armenian text behind the postcard discovered in the wall of an Armenian home in Ayntap

We make our way around a partition to enter the church-mosque proper and are immediately confronted by the overwhelming red of an overly large Turkish flag dominating the wall in front of us, the only thing of color in relatively stark surroundings, though the interior of the church is beautiful. The oriental carpet beneath our stockinged feet makes the space seem tolerable, hospitable.

I immediately begin to walk along the walls, looking up and down for a remnant of anything Armenian, as I’ve done throughout the trip. (And, if I’m to be honest, as I’ve done all my life, pretty much everywhere I go. I suppose that’s what happens when one’s sense of home feels fragile and hazy.)

I find nothing on the cold walls of the church-mosque. Until I look up, high above what used to be the altar, above yet another large Turkish flag, and notice a medallion-shaped…something. The abandoned altar is too dark, and I can’t tell what the shape contains because what had once been there has eroded with time, or it has been intentionally chipped away. It’s even possible that it had contained nothing in particular, I think, then quickly dismiss it.

I take a few pictures, again knowing that I likely wouldn’t be able to capture a clear-enough image of what had once been there. Only after I place the iPhone in my pocket does the thought occur to me: Many Armenian churches have the figure of a dove or the letter “Է” above the altar—signifying, respectively, the Holy Spirit and God. Whichever had been there, the presence of neither seems very apparent now in the church-mosque.

Murad, who discovered the postcard of Kevork Chavoush's widow and subsequently translated Ayntapi Goyamarde from Armenian to Turkish
Murad, who discovered the postcard of Kevork Chavoush’s widow and subsequently translated Ayntapi Goyamarde from Armenian to Turkish

Normally, I wouldn’t feel great affinity toward a religious symbol—Christian, Armenian, or otherwise. But in its current, altered state, that empty medallion shape elicits…what? Resentment? Loss? Anger? Frustration? Sorrow? Those and much more that I cannot name, or probably even comprehend.

No wonder ancient (and not so ancient) cultures have assigned and ascribed so much power to symbols, amulets, and other talismanic objects, believing they hold power in, and influence over, the physical world.

They affect thought. And so they effect change.

In this case, it is the absence of an object—rather, the existence of a mere hint of it—that casts a powerful presence, substantiating what I sense and feel and know: that this building is not now what it once was, that what it is now isn’t really what it is, or is made to seem to be.

Every molecule of every remaining inanimate object of Historic Armenia is a microcosm of immense loss, massive erasure, and a brutal re-rendering of reality.

* * *

A stranger has joined us in the church-mosque. Armen introduces a few of us to an Antep native, Murad, a tall, thin, mustachioed Turk with dark hair tied back into a ponytail. He seems at once laid back and intense—the type who subsists on coffee and cigarettes. Apparently he and Armen are old friends. They do some catching up, discussing pictures of old Armenian homes that Murad has recently emailed to Armen.

At some point, standing in the middle of the church-mosque, Murad takes out some papers from his bag. A few of us gather around as he explains, in English, about a project he’s been working on. The papers are photocopied pages of an Armenian book, Ayntapi Goyamarde (“Ayntap’s Battle for Survival”) about the Armenian battles of self-defense against Turkish attacks in 1920-21. The author is A. Kesar, and the book was published in 1945, in Boston, by the Hairenik Press. I was once an editor at the Hairenik, I point out, surprised, never imagining that I would come across anything in the middle of Ayntap that would remind me of my long years in the Hairenik building in Watertown, Mass.

The Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church of Aintab, now converted to a mosque, Kurtuluş Camii
The Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church of Aintab, now converted to a mosque, Kurtuluş Camii

The cover page has notes in Turkish and English scribbled over and around the title. Murad flips through some pages, and we see how nearly every millimeter of white space between the lines of printed Armenian text contains handwritten Turkish. Murad explains that he has taught himself the Armenian alphabet, and with the help of dictionaries he’s been translating the Armenian text into Turkish so that he may learn the untaught history of his hometown.

I’m incredulous: Really? Why? How? A Turk learning Armenian so that he could translate the Armenian view of events in his “heroic” hometown nearly a century earlier?

The setting—an Armenian church seized and converted into a Turkish mosque and ironically renamed “liberation”—makes the proposition seem even more surreal: A Turk who is, in essence, “converting” Armenian text into Turkish. But now the intent is to reveal, not obscure, to reclaim, to name things as they are. To liberate.

Murad, an electrical engineer by training, tells us some of the back-story. The following is the version he emailed to me a couple of months after we’d met:

“Once upon a time I was a house restorer. At that time, I did not have sufficient information about the original (Armenian) owner of the buildings. I’d only have information on the owners after 1923, when the Turkish Republic was declared. During the restoration of an old house in the Kayajik region [of Antep], we had to restore some wooden parts of the house. The house had seven rooms and a big living room. I started to work in a small room on the first floor of the house. The architectural style of that room was that all of the walls were covered with wood, but unfortunately most of the wood was destroyed by the effect of humidity. For this reason, we decided to renovate all the wooden parts of this room. But we had to be careful when removing the old wood because the limestone under the wood could be damaged.

The altar of Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, Ayntap
The altar of Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, Ayntap

“When I started the removing operation, I found a picture between the limestone of the wall and the wooden part. First, I thought it was an ordinary paper, but when I looked it carefully I noticed that it is a photograph covered by dust. When I cleaned the dust, I saw a young woman with arms [weapons] and I could read, ‘Aintab Asia-Minor’ and ‘M.H. Halladjian.’ I thought most probably M.H.H. was a photographer and this is a very old photo. When I looked the back side, I could read only ‘21…1910.’

“As you can guess, I could not read the other parts of the writing. I thought the writing is in the Arabic language because at that time Ottomans used Arabic letters for writing. When I asked a friend who knows Arabic, he said, ‘This writing is not Arabic, it could be the Armenian language.’ Later, I met a family [of Armenians] who visited Antep, and they translated the writing.

 

Transliteration (in Western Armenian)

Hankoutsial heros Kevork Chavoushi

Digin ayri Heghine.

 =

Mer hishadagi nvere asd[?]

Diar Hovhannes yev

Digin Piranian

21 Houlis 1910 H.H.T.

Aintab

Medallion-shaped architectural molding above the altar of Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, Ayntap
Medallion-shaped architectural molding above the altar of Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, Ayntap

 

The English translation

Deceased hero Kevork Chavoush’s

Wife, the widow Heghine.*

 =

Our memento this/here[?]

Mr. Hovhannes and

Mrs. Piranian

21 July 1910 A.R.F.

Ayntap

 

“Before the translation, I had one question: ‘Who was M.H. Halladjian?’ But after the translation, I had more than five questions. ‘Who were these women and men?’ Then, I decided to search for the history of Antep. These [events] happened in 2005.

Kevork Chavoush
Kevork Chavoush

“Later, I met with Armen Aroyan, and he gave a Xerox copy of the book K. Sarafian’s Brief History of Aintab. After reading that book, I decided to learn the Armenian language, because the history of Antep can not be researched and understood without the Armenian language. Now I can read, and with the help of a dictionary I can understand Armenian.”

* * *

The Murat of 2005 had become the Murad we met in 2013 at the Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church/Liberation mosque of Ayntap/Aintab, Antep/Gaziantep. At some point, I find out later from a mutual friend, he had changed the spelling of his name.

I’m not certain why. But I know it has something to do with people, places, and things.

 

*The Armenian Weekly cannot verify the veracity of the claim that the woman in the photo is in fact the wife of the celebrated fedayee Kevork Chavoush. In Roupen DerMinassian’s memoirs, the author notes that Chavoush’s wife’s name was Yeghso (not Heghine). In addition, there is no evidence that Yeghso was a fedayee.

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Vahe Habeshian

Vahe Habeshian is a longtime editor (and an infrequent writer). He was assistant editor, then editor, of the Armenian Weekly during some exciting times, including the liberation of Artsakh (Karabagh) and the initial years of Armenian independence (1989-96). He has an undergraduate degree in Middle East languages and cultures. He is now the director of publications at MarketingProfs.com.
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53 Comments

  1. My grand-parents as well as great-grand-parents are from Antab,Turkey.Along the many stories we heard as we grew-up…were the stories of the hidden treasures my ancestors left behind,property documents, letters, jewelry and more. As a matter of fact they also told us where exactly are hidden…if any is interested please e-mail me

    • Hi Fernande.My name is Erol.I was born in aintab and still have been living in aintab.I am searching history of aintab.Especially between 1874-1922.and ı need document-photos and letter.I read your message and if you would like I can help you.

      I wait for your answer impatiently.

      Erol.

  2. Fascinating article – very much captures the mystery of questions when confronted by such places as Historical (western) Armenia.

  3. Fascinating story. One can only wonder how and why that postcard ended in the wall of the church for a hundred years. For the sake of completion, here’s the correct reading of the third, dubious line: «Մեր յիշատակի նուէրը առ» / “Mer hishadagi nvere ar” (Our Memento To)

    • Vartan, thank you! առ makes perfect sense there. I couldn’t make it out in the image… As for the postcard, it was found in a home that was being renovated, not the church. Thank you, again.

    • I think the translation is more like “Take our gift of memory”.

      Մեր our
      յիշատակի memory of (remembrance)
      նուէրը the gift
      առ take

  4. I think it likely that the signature ‘Halladjian’ on the portrait found in the wall refers to a portrait studio that at least in the 1890s was located in Aleppo (the provincial capital). I have a number of family photographs from that era that bear the embossed stamp ‘Halladjian’, ‘Halladjian Aleppo’, etc., including one, of my grandmother, in a strikingly similar format. (Even had she been so inclined, she was at least ten years too young to wear a bandolier or bear arms!)

  5. What a find!.

    Of all the finds that have been reported over the years by the visitors to the Western Armenia, this one stirred me the most and rekindled in me dormant memories of my youth when I used to read about her husband’s exploits with fascination.

    I did not know her name until now. She never became acclaimed as Sosse Mayrig – Serop Aghpuyr’s wife – did. It may be because there was no picture of her to this day. Her secret marriage caused much discomfort among the ranks pitting another titan of a fedayee – Sbghanats Magar of Sassoun – against her husband Kevork Chavoush for having broken his vow of celibacy. The conflict became so acute and so disruptive that the A.R.F. Bureau stepped in and delegated young Roupen Der Minassian to sort the issue. Roupen’s tale in his memoir as to how he resolved the issue is an epic story.

    Her husband was mortally wounded and died on May 27,1907 after requesting that the rest leave the battle scene and leave him alone. They had a son named Vartkes. Her husband’s old nemesis Sbghanats Magar personally took over her safety after her husband’s death considering her an honor least she could be caught and molested. He paid the ultimate price. Sbghanats Magar and his long time battle-hardened companion Shenegi Manoug were killed protecting her and her son to flee for their freedom. The names of these two fedayees – Magar and Manoug – are hyphenated with names of villages in Sassoun they hailed from.

    I had wandered what happened to her. It appears now that she was still alive at least up to 3 years after her death and that she also had become iconic figures in
    her own right to have such inscription on such a card with a such a pose. She may have very well perished in 1915.

    Sbghanats Magar does not have a photograph of himself. That may also be the reason that he also could not stir imagination as Kevork Chavoush did with that one picture in that unique pose. Goms- Vahan Papazian –took that historic snap shot next to a rock, not far away from Akhatamar’s Soupr Khatch church. And now we find out that a picture of his widow has also survived. She can now claim her own rightful place in the annals of the liberation movement history.

    Thank you Vahe for reporting this fascinating account of such a historic find.

  6. Very dedicated and well informed article…I like the coined word you used “Church -Mosque”
    I think you should be more specific to use “Armenian Church transformed to Turkish Mosque”
    Because the real Arab muslims will not do this…Being most of our lives with Arabs in Islamic countries…
    we have never seen flags in the mosques…because these are religious places…
    Why the Turks after invading the churches…they put their bloody flags inside and outside…
    we saw it in Akhtamar Holy church as well…To say we are hear …??? …Where is god to assess and tell them you thieves, you confiscated this place …you never build a stone there…how can you take…such a place and put your dirty flag inside a clean place…”I feel there is no god to punish them”…Full stop.

    • “Why the Turks after invading the churches…they put their bloody flags inside and outside…
      we saw it in Akhtamar Holy church as well…To say we are hear”

      Because even after all these years, Turkey knows that their country was created through conquests and what that they see as theirs was taken by force. In their minds, the flags are their way of showing who owns it.

      Arab conquests were a long time ago. Turkish conquests are still relatively recent.

  7. Very nicely written article with great sensitivity. The photographer: “M. H. Halladjian,” and at bottom-right is a place name, “Aintab Asia-Minor.” My files show no record for a Halladjian as photographer in Aleppo. There is a J. H. Halladjian who worked in Haifa, but that seems to remote and the card says clearly Aintab. In Aintab there were two photographers with that name and probably from the same family. In my files: H. Haladjian, 1910 in S. Boghossian, no. 1036; Mihran Haladjian. The H. is documented for 1910 independently. Thus, the Heghine photo was taken by the brothers (H. and M.) I presume, working together, or, Mihran and H. are the same person, Mihran H. Haladjian. I cannot explain why my records spell the name with one l, carelessness on my part? But it is definitely from Aintab.

    • Fascinating article!! Dear Dickran, In light of your information, it seems likely that the initials refer to the names of the two brothers working together, since Armenians rarely used middle names in those days.

    • “M.H.Halladjian” was a professional studio photographer based in Mercin. There are other photos by him that can be found on the internet.

      The name Halladjian is quite common, and it comes from the cotton & wool fluffing trade, which was called “Halladji”, as it was a traveling tradesmen who used to make the pillow and mattress stuffing fluffier (which were washed once a year), by beating the cotton or the wool on piano strings mounted on a special wooden jig. They beat the cotton or wool using a special wooden mallet.

  8. Fascinating story
    My mother was Armenian from Tarsus the family name was Yanekian. My grandfather Dicran was a coppersmiths and a self appointed veterinarian. I have very little information about my grandfather and his family. All this brothers were killed in the genoside. His sisters two or three of them were spared. One got married and came to Cyprus where I was born and the other two ended up in Aleppo. My grandfather was spared because he gained the favor of the police inTurkey for taking care of their horses when they got Ill. Not much else is known

  9. Sireli vahe, urakhutyamp gartatzink hedakrkragan hotvaze ayntebi mech kdnvaz ngari yev yegeghetzvo masin.tzoghige desaz er ays hotvaze ,yes al gartatzi.urakh yem gartalu haygagan temanerov gratznerut masin.hayeren darerov che ays yergdoghe vorovhedev i padov ge krem,pan me vor yerprk chem sirer sagayn labtope interneti chi gabvir tjpakhdapar.shnorhagalutyun hedakrkragan hotvatzin hamar.parevner znoghkit yev zavagnerut voronk yeridasart yen aylevs. Garodov. Yessayi yev tzoghig

  10. I LOVE THE BEAUTIFUL BIOGRAPHY OF THEARMENIANS FROM AINTAB.MY FAMILY IS ORIGINATED FROM ANTAB.GRAND FATHER FATHER AND UNCLES. IT WAS VERY INFORMATIVE.THANKS A MILLION.

  11. A very interesting and thought-provoking article. I believe the author you mentioned, A.Kesar, was my uncle, Assadoor Khederian. He
    used the pen name A. Gesar when he translated Saroyan’s The Human
    Comedy from English to Armenian and he worked for the Hairenik at that time. I phoned the Hairenik… they have located a copy of the
    book for verification and will notify me but the Editor does believe
    they are one and the same person. It will certainly add another
    piece of Armenian history to the Khederian family if he authored that
    book. (My uncle was born in Gesarya, lived in N.Y.City most of his
    life as well as a short time in Fresno, CA. where he was the editor
    of an Armenian newspaper. He passed away in 1955.) Thank you!

    • I had been looking for a long while to find out who A. Gesar was. Thanks for this valuable piece of information! Incidentally, Asadour Khederian (1893-1955) also wrote down and edited the memoirs of Misak Torlakian, “Oreroos Hed,” first published in Los Angeles in 1953.

  12. Roupen Der Minassian, in “Hye Heghapokhagani Meh Hishadagnereh”, 2004 republication, book 4, gives certain details about Yeghso (of Heghin), and Vartkes. With Dikran of Aragh to Moush; Ghazar of Shenig to Van ( to Aram); to Barsgasdan ( where infant Vartkes dies of illness, buried in St. Thaddeus cemetery); possibly with Vartan Shahbaz to the Caucuses (stays at Roupen’s residence through A.R.F. Bureau care). Then comes 1908 Ottoman “Sahmanatrootyun”, and she leaves back to Bolis, Jerusalem, Aleppo, and to her birthplace Heghin, where she stays till 1915. Then she is kidnapped by a Kurd, but not killed (possibly saved as a wife)…

    • Yeghso, Eghso, Yeghsa… of Heghin village. She has been in Aleppo, where this picture was taken; she has been in Aintab on July 21, 1910, where she gave this momento picture to the Piranians…

  13. Haladjian reminds me our San Francisco Calvary Armenian Congregation Church’s social hole which is also named Haladjian Srah after both Mr&Mrs Haladjians passed away.
    Կուզեմ շնորհակալուդիւն յայտնել այս յետագրգրական հատուածը մեզ հետ բաժնեկցող Վահէ Հապէշեանին։
    Կեցցէ Հայոց աշխարհը եւ Հայրենիք

  14. The Bibilical traits of Satan: Kill, steal and destroy. Further, Satan is the father of lies (denial). How incredibly sad to see the abomination of a church consecrated to the holy spirit. Justice come quickly! They look for treasures among the ruins but they don’t know that the treasures – the REAL treasures of Aintab – are dead and gone. The sweet and industrious Armenian people, with great love of family, and especially the adorable children. They dig and search, but the treasures are gone. The toddlers unprepared for the cold who froze in the middle of the night, knocking on the front doors of their own houses. Frightened. Where were their teddy bears, blankets, and warm hugs, let alone, where were their parents? Killed, raped. The 8 and 6 year old brother and sister whose cries for safety from a loving family became increasingly quiet as they slowly froze to death. The cries were ignored by the Turkish family who was on the other side of the front door of the house that they stole. Slowly, the cries became more quiet and eventually stopped. In the morning, the toddlers were dead on the doorstep of what used to be a loving home. This happened in Aintab. These are the treasures of Aintab. They can look for all the treasures they want in those old buildings. Nothing that they find will replace that sister and brother. Ever. “Justice is mine” – God. They have every reason to be frightened and shaken to the core. My grandparents are dead, and their grandparents are dead. Now the judgment.

  15. Compliments for an excellent article and also thank you to Mr. Murad Ucaner for the work that he has been doing, to preserve the history of Armenians in Antep (origin of name “Ayn-Tayib”, which is Sweet Water Spring in Aramaic), where for centuries until the 1830s, out of an entire population of 30,000, there were only 3,000 Armenian, when by the late 1840, population of Antep grew to 90,000, out of which, 30,000 where Armenians who had come from throughout the region, mostly as tradesmen. This was primarily due to Wazir Ali of Egypt and his son, rising against the Ottomans and making Antep their new Capital until 1850. Very little is known about this segment of history. As a result, all international powers established their presence in Antep.

    Missionaries followed in large numbers, WHERE BY 1892, THERE WERE 3,772 AMERICANS BASED IN ANTEP and more in other nationalities. Very little is known of these dynamics.

    It was during that period of renaissance, that after a decade of planning and approval process, starting in 1873, St. Mary’s Cathedral construction commenced and was completed as the article correctly states in 1893. My maternal grandfather Baruyr Sarkis Kazanjian and his older brother Nerses worked on it. It was the tallest structure in Antep. All made of contrasting black and white granite.

  16. The truth; hidden in walls, hidden by name, hidden by faith, hidden behind flags, hidden by lies, hidden in plain sight, hidden in my heart, is being exposed by pony-tailed, mustachioed faces called Murat/Murad.

    Hallelujah/ma-ash-allah!

  17. My Mother is from Hallajian family name now we’re going to do research. The family’s tree , weach was writhen by Cezar Checkijian , He is in New York city or New Jersey his mother is Hallajian too.I was born in Alepo. ….!? To be con….we have an uncale name Jack Hallajian.

  18. Fascinating, thought provoking, an extraordinary story. Thank you.
    My grandmother, Azniv Yacobian born in 1894 was the sister of Lutfi Yacobian (Artist) who was the father of Hirach Yacobian (Violinist), Florence Yacobian (Pianist) and other sibs were all born in Antep.
    Azniv came to Ellis Island in 1909. In 1913 she married Roupen Parigian and lived in Providence Rhode Island, Detroit Michigan, and settled in Fresno.

    • Flo was my mother in law when she was married to Nicolas Vaty and I loved Hirach his playing was pure magic. How are you related to them?

    • To Angela (3,23,2018)
      My grandmother was Azniv Yacobian, (her daughter Mary was my mother),
      sister to Lutfi Yacobian, father to Hirach and Florence. I believe I’m second cousin to Florence. Get a copy of my book…”My Four Fathers” by Dee Kassabian

  19. I have a different sense of this picture. It was NOT given by Heghine to the Piranians. It was given, on this date, by HO-HEE-TAH to the Piranians. Three years after Kevork’s death, the Tashnagtsootune acknowledges the Piranians for their possible devotion to the Party. (Consider how would the Catholicos; or the Pope; or any entity in position would acknowledge a devoted to that “cause”). Keep in mind it was time of peace with Tashnags/Armenians; and Tchavoosh was highly memorialized in hearts.

  20. My father;s family was from Intep, Demerjian’s his mother Lussia Minassian] and my mothers family [father Belikians] mother Ishkanian] were also from Intep. We have posted some of the family history on the internet, Ishkanian family tree] but would like more infor on the Demerjian and Minassian sides.

  21. I had forwarded this article to a friend of mine & please read his reply:
    Quote
    Thank you for sending the article, amazing story.
    As you might have guessed, we went to that church/mosque with our guide Armen Aroyan. When we got there, we found a Turkish prisoner towards the end of his sentence, on a community service, acting as a guide. He only knew Turkish and I acted as a translator between him and our group. It was bit strange – our group got bit scared when we found out that he was convicted for attempted murder and assault. He worked very hard to explain the history of the church. But he got very upset when we did not tip him well and started following us around the city. We had to give him more money to get rid of him. Anyway, he mentioned that behind that large Turkish flag on top of the alter, there are some Armenian religious paintings and they are using the flag to cover it up.
    I’ll send the article to my other fellow pilgrims, I am sure they will be very interested.
    Best wishes,
    Bedros

    Isn’t there always something hidden behind the Turkish flags?

    • I would like to hear from you since my mother’s maiden name was Ishkanian, she was born in Aintep but grew up in Allepo where her family emigrated during the genocide.

    • And how does peace prevail? Isn’t the”Right to defend” the basis for defending peace, when peace itself is threatened? The Balkans rebelled against the imposing Ottoman Empire; the Empire hit back, and countered its losses by cleansing a Republic out of its “infidels”; and these “infidels” are to blame for being other than Turkic ( for being non-peaceful). Have you heard of “Right to self-defense, right to arms, when the State is unable to, or no more protects its citizens”???

  22. My father and grand father born in gazi Antab I heard a lot of stories from my father and grand mother so my grandfather name is haroutioun who died in Damascus Syria he died befor I born . My father left damascause and came to Baghdad Iraq for work and he got married my mother who she was from haleb syria I and I born in Iraq 1954 my name is Berje Melkonian when I was age seven I was very close to my grandmother she used to tell me stories about my grandfather who was related to avedise and Levon kelemkerian and she said my grandfather name was in ayntaab haroutioun kelemkerian and he was the third brother of avedise and Levon kelemkerian she told me avedise and Levon never got married avedise he was general in the army but in the genoside time he had army and fight against Turkish ottoman army he divided ayntaab and build up canon his name became the herose avedis kelemkerian so I relies he was my grandfather brother or Cason who died in Aleppo Syria so when I born he wanted my name to be Berje , my father has ather Cason’s

  23. The story is that the ‘Anitabtsi’ merchants who had a reputation of being savvy businessmen had this church erected and modeled after a church, a namesake I believe, in Istambul they saw during their business travels and liked a lot but on one condition that their ‘Aintabsi’ church is to be taller than the other church. The architecturally visible upper portion of the church is the addition to make to ‘their’ church stand up taller.

  24. The Mosin rifle the widow of Kevork Chavoush Heghine (a.k.a Yegsho) is holding was the desired rifle for the fedayeens. The rifle that her husband is holding in his only picture is most likely a mosin as well.

    The name of the rifle is even captured in a folklore song about the raid of Khanasor (Մօսին հրացան պատրաստ ձեռին, Թուրքին վոխը պահած սրտին, դէպ Խարասոբ դիմէց ուժքին) (A mosin rifle in his hand, vengeance towards the Turks in his heart, he dashed towards khanasor in fury).

    The fedayeens preferred the rifle not only for its accuracy but because it did not leave a trace of white fume when they fired it from their hideout positions.

  25. M.H. Halladjian Aintab Asia-Minor

    That’s what the postcard say. It is a photographer; of that name; located (or picture shot) in Aintab. Which is located in Asia Minor.

    There is no country called Turkey. It’s not the Ottoman Empire. It’s a questionable area, a geography, called Asia Minor… not a country yet, but an area belonging to an Empire, in the year 1910. It was to be cleansed by some, of some, to later become Gaziantep in Turkey!

  26. Wonderful article and I am in Aintep… Not sure why the Lord brought me here with my American husband but it remains to be seen. I know the area of the church and have pictures inside also.
    Blessings

  27. This bittersweet story, other than revealing the tenacity of our nation as displayed by the picture in defiance of the widow of one of our great Armenian heros Gevork Chavush, is a testament to how deplorable and despicable the Turks were. The Turkification and the renaming of the sacred Armenian Church from its original name to “Liberation mosque” should tell you all you need to know about the nature of these genocidal Central Asian nomadic invaders into the Armenian heartland.

    There are hundreds of other Armenian churches throughout the occupied Western Armenia with similar destiny. What these infidel racist Turks have done to some of our churches display such deep hatred and blatant disregard for our nation that their actions leave not a morsel of doubt what their true intensions were. The fact that the structure of many of our churches in captivity has not been modified, other than replacing the gothic dome of the churches with Islamic domes and erecting minarets on the church grounds, speaks volumes about their deliberate intentions to remind us of our past we no longer possess, what they were capable of doing and who today is in charge of these lands.

    I wonder what their Turkish Imams say when they converse with their “allah” from the altar of sacred Armenian churches they desecrated. Whether they praise him for giving them the strength to conquer the “infidel” houses of worship, rid them for good of their gavur Armenian congregations by extermination and, as good Muslims and “obedient” and “loyal” Turks, being rewarded for planting the Islamic as well as the blood-soaked Turkish flags on our church grounds.

    I also wonder if the new generation of their Imams running these captive Armenian churches as mosques are the descendants of the former generations of Imams who would stand on the altar of their mosques on Friday prayer services and encourage mobs of illiterate “loyal” Muslim Turks, by digging deep into their anti-Christian and anti-Armenian racist emotions, to perform their Islamic and Turkish duty by attacking and killing the defenseless Armenian infidels.

    As Armenians, it is our duty to do away with anything Turkish and Islamic infiltrating and desecrating our lands and sacred churches in captivity and to make sure the blood-soaked Turkish flags covering the sacred altar of our churches get their due respect and end up where they truly belong instead, under our feet that is.

  28. As a Kurds and borned and lived in a Armenian Village Eastern Turkey at the city of Bedlis or Bitlis for all my childhood makes me interested in everything about Them..I feel like Kurds ands Armenians are even same people ( put religion out)..I have listened many stories from my Grandfather about them..In fact almost all were sad..Those stories made me grown as part of it..Loved that article very much but meanwhile felt very upset, deeply sorry..Last year i visited an Armenian village that no body lived ever since the genocide and tried to imaged the live of villagers with the stories of my grandfather..Visited their ruined graves and try to pictured the name of them on the tomb stone..I wish I could find the Armenian boy that my grandfather family saved and kept him at their house from genocide for 5 years.The story of this photograph is touching..

  29. I am glad to know people like you are doing this kind of work in the world.

    Thank you for preserving out heritage.

  30. The photographer was my great-grandfather Mithran (Mihran?) Halladjian.

    An earlier commenter thought it might be two brothers; I suspect it was father and son because Mithran’s father was Haroutune Halladjian (and his brothers were Jacob Henry Halladjian and Samuel Haroutone Halladjian). As such it is possible that Jacob H. Halladjian in Haifa might have been a brother.

    • Jeff, I found this page because I’m doing some superficial research on Samuel Haroutune Halladjian (1886-1971) (aka Sam Hall) who is buried at Angelus Rosedale cemetery in Los Angeles. Is this your relative? If so, I’ll explain my interest.

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