We travel further

We have come to the end of the journeys planned for the first half of the year. We have visited the Art Nouveau Subotica and the Hasidic cemeteries of Tokaj, defeated the Ukrainian potholes from Subcarpathia through Czernowitz and Kamenets-Podolsk to Odessa and back, participated at the Easter of three denominations in Lemberg, and on the way of the wooden churches and painted Renaissance monasteries we reunited Maramureș and Bukovina, cut in two by a country border. And in the meantime we compiled, visited and discussed, and now publish the journeys proposed for the second half of the year, to the program of whose we also welcome the recommendations of our readers. The planned costs include in each case the trip (by bus), accommodation (in double room), and the guided tour. The language of the guide – optionally, English, Italian, German or Spanish – will depend on the composition of the group.

As usual, I ask anyone interested in one or another trip to write, without an obligation (but with a serious intention) until Saturday, 3 August at wang@studiolum.com. Then, when we already know the number of participants, we will publish the dailed program of the trip, the exact costs (including the eventual single room complement), and the application and payment deadline on our page “Come with us”, which, linked to the right margin, serves as a constantly updated travel schedule.

The lost world of the Eastern Galician shtetl, 25–29 August (Sunday–Thursday). The fellow passengers of río Wang may have already accustomed to the fact that in our trips we visit a lot of things that no longer exist, but this is the first time that all our journey is dedicated to a completely vanished world, the network of former Jewish towns from Stryj through Sambór and Żółkiew to Brod and Tarnopol, and from there, through Czortków and Buczacz to the Bukovinian border, thus moving around in the Eastern, now Ukrainian half of Galicia. We visit the beautiful, decaying cemeteries and synagogues, we reconstruct the life and relationships of this network of settlements, we recall the memory of the illustrious personalities and movements. The summary of our posts on the Jewish heritage of the region can be found here. Planned costs: approx. 300 euro.

Lemberg Klezmer Festival, 30 August – 2 September (Friday – Monday). This is the fifth year that the Jewish Cultural Association of the city organizes a summer klezmer festival with the participation of a number of authentic Eastern European – Ukrainian, Moldovan, Russian – bands as well as invited international celebrities. During the weekend festival we also visit the hidden corners of the city with those who are for the first time in Lemberg, and make an excursion to the Polish Renaissance royal palace of Olesko. An interactive map of the monuments of Lemberg and our posts on the city are collected here. Planned costs: approx. 220-280 euros.

Western Galicia: shtetls and castles, 2–6 October (Wednesday – Sunday). Continuing our journey of August, now we visit the Western, Polish half of Galicia, where the greater proximity to the cultural and economic centers make it more visible that the Jewish shtetls were born in under the protection and for the service of the landlords’ fortresses, as the 17th-century proverb says: “there is no proper Polish nobleman without his own Jew”. We visit the network of the former shtetls in parallel with the magnificent Renaissance palaces and royal castles, from Kraków’s Kazimierz through the Renaissance towns of Opatów, Sandomierz and Tarnów to Lublin and Zamość, now on the World Heritage list. We will also visit the important Galician sites of the First World War, such as the fortress of Przemyśl. Planned costs: approx. 300 euros.

The Crimea, 23-29 October (Wednesday – Tuesday). We gradually expand to the East, after Odessa now we have reached the Crimean peninsula (and the Caucasus follows in the next year). We arrive by plane to Simferopol (the tickets should be individually purchased: now, three months in advance you can buy it for about 300 euros from all over Europe), and from there we go around by bus in the ethnically diverse peninsula, rich in stunning natural beauties and historical monuments. We will see medieval Karaite cemetery and a Jewish mountain town, Genovese and Gothic citadel, impressive palaces of the Russian aristocracy along the southern coast between Sevastopol and Yalta, Orthodox places of pilgrimages and Tatar mosques. Planned costs (in addition to the plane ticket): approx. 450 euros

“Lightning” in Maramureș, 31 October – 3 November (Thursday – Saturday). One of the greatest celebration of the Romanian region is the “lightning” in the cemeteries around All Saints’ Day, when the cemetery hills are full of life, those living far away come home, and the families commemorate together their deads, often hosting the strangers, too. This is why we repeat at this time the Romanian half of our spring tour, by visiting the traditional wooden churches of Maramureș, the “merry cemetery” of Sapănța, the market of Sighetu Marmației, the open air museum of wooden folk architecture in Baia Mare. Planned costs: approx. 220-250 euros.

The unknown Mallorca, 17–22 January (Friday – Wednesday). The true face of this beautiful and archaic island – of which our old readers know that it is our second home – can be got to know in January, when the flood of the tourists stops for a month, and the island for a short while lives only its own traditional life. The weather is mild, almond trees are blossoming, and orange is ripen, and the settlements celebrate two greatest events, the feasts of Saint Anthony, protector of the farmers, and Saint Sebastian, patron of Palma, in a veritable Mediterranean joie de vivre, with fireworks, the parade of the masked devils who tempted St. Anthony, fires and grilling on the streets and squares. In addition, we walk through the old town of Palma, the ancient Jewish quarter, the Medieval and Renaissance inner courtyards, the Arabic towns along the coasts and the manor houses in the mountains, we taste wine in Binissalem and sail over to the little island of the blue lizards. Our posts on Mallorca can be read here. Planned costs (in addition to the plane tickets, which is usually 200-250 euros from the continent): approx. 450-480 euros.

Our readers have suggested the possibility of a weekend in the former Hasidic villages of the wine region of Tokaj, to follow the centuries old “route of the Jewish wine” from Tokaj through Košice, Prešov and Bardejov to Poland, or to repeat in October the one-week long Czernowitz–Kamenets-Podolsk–Odessa tour. These are also available if enough people apply for them, especially if any of the above tours will have not enough applicants, so we will have to organize something else instead of it. Please feel free to write, to ask, to suggest.

Armenia – stops, movement, colors

This afternoon, everything was dark and humid all along this Armenian valley, and in the monastery of Haghpat, paved with tombstones, everything was even darker and more humid.
The taxi parked below in a small square. Nobody came to see us. True, there was a woman sitting in a folding chair at the entrance of the main church, but she also fled when she saw me.
Somewhat later, in Sanahin, in the dusk of the other side of the valley, another woman, coming from I don’t know where, stopped me: “Девушка!” She stopped to offer me a pansy, a bunch of small purple flowers, with all their roots. She remembere two words of her French learned decades earlier, when Armenia still belonged to a different world. “Bonjour camarade!
Who has ever called me “comrade” where I come from?

As elsewhere in the Caucasus, these ancient villages were built on the hills overlooking the valleys, which remained desert until the late 18th century.
Odzun, Haghpat and Sanahin thus extended for at least a millennium on the jagged plateaus above the town of Alaverdi, both close to one another in a straight line and separated by hours of walking through a series of valleys cut deep by the rivers running in them.
Alaverdi, down there, was like a foreign land.

All the towns in these valleys belong to another world than the villages of the heights: they were industrial towns born in the late 18th century, or in the 19th, or even later, during the USSR; rich, active and populous towns – today all ruined cities.
The marshrutka of Yerevan, a filthy wreck, abandoned us in the morning in Vanadzor, the former Kirovakan, somewhere between the huge chemical complexes surrounding the city. The taxi, with which we went further, was driven by an Armenian from Rostov-on-Don, a school bus driver in retirement, living by traveling back and forth between Russia and Armenia. He drove us from Vanadzor through the valley to Alaverdi, another devastated industrial city, whose abandonment left behind a valley covered with the dust of copper.
A valley like an oppressive corridor: the valley follows the river, the road follows the valley, the railway follows the road, and nothing can come out of the valley without climbing the rocks.

In Alaverdi we had lunch near a petrol station just before the bridge, a simple wooden shack with one single table, a large painting representing Mount Ararat, and a somewhat withdrawn young mistress with bleached hair, who, thrilled by our arrival, brought us to taste everything she had.

At one point, she called me to the back of her booth, inviting me to step out on the balcony overlooking the river. With a broad movement of the arm, she offered me the scenery: what she loved above all in this place, she said, was the beauty of the landscape – everything is so beautiful here, the mountain, the river down there, the trees…

And I wanted so much that this beauty be accessible to me, too. That I could also see the beauty of this place, of this canyon, which at that time was the scariest place I had ever met: the jagged rocks here and there covered with reddened snow, the water below us, made brown by the mud of the copper as an unhealthy paste, the trees, still leafless, but loaded with hundreds of multicolored plastic bags, and the cavernous walls of the factories and buildings – all enveloped in one question: is this the way people live?

I told her: yes, spring is coming, and I went back.

The railway in the valley goes from Yerevan to Moscow. In the train Moscow-Yerevan, which in 1991 is crossing a disintegrating country, Artavazd Pelechian is filming the faces with a handheld camera. Faces of men and women, children’s faces, faces that are vivid, faces falling asleep, each taken in the scroll of a trip, where the horizon appears but in fragments. Pelechian, born in 1938 in Leninakan, in Soviet Armenia, is a director of film essays, a documentary filmmaker, and a film theorist. His films are mostly short or medium-length, almost silent, even if sound has a central place in them.

Artavazd Pelechian, The end (Конец), 35mm film, black and white, 8 minutes, 1992.

The railway is not abandoned, still there pass some trains on it every day – but now it lives another life. The valley is not yet abandoned either, but it is sleeping, it is being extinguished. Many have left it for far away places.

Then leaving the valley, heading up, leaving everything behind. Leaving the railway, the road, the towns, the factories, the rust, the crumbling cement, the debris, the dirty snow.
Up into the wood.

Toward the villages.
Toward all that opens its doors to the passer-by, the traveler, the wanderer.
Toward the memory.

Spring will certainly come.

Prokudin-Gorsky, Young Armenian woman in festive clothes, Artvin, c. 1905-1915.

Arménie – arrêts, mouvement, couleur

Cet après-midi là, tout était sombre et humide le long de cette vallée arménienne et dans le monastère d’Haghpat, dallé de pierres tombales, tout était encore plus obscur et humide.
Le taxi s’était garé en contrebas sur une petite place et nul n’était venu à notre rencontre. Il y avait bien une femme assise sur un pliant à l’entrée de l’église principale mais elle avait pris la fuite en me voyant.
Un peu plus tôt, à Sanahin, dans la grisaille de l’autre versant de la vallée, une autre femme, arrivant de je-ne-sais-où derrière moi m’avait interpellée — « Девушка ! ». Elle s’était arrêtée pour m’offrir un pied de pensées, une touffe de petites fleurs violettes avec toutes ses racines. Elle se souvenait de deux mots de français appris des décennies plus tôt alors que l’Arménie appartenait à un monde différent — « Bonjour camarade ! ».
Qui m’a jamais appelée « camarade », là d’où je viens ?

Comme ailleurs dans le Caucase, ces villages anciens étaient bâtis sur les hauteurs en surplomb de ces vallées restées désertes quant à elles jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe siècle.
Odzun, Haghpat et Sanahin s’étirent ainsi depuis au moins un millénaire sur des plateaux déchiquetés au-dessus de la ville d’Alaverdi, à la fois proches l’un de l’autre à vol d’oiseau et séparés par des heures de marche à travers une succession de vallées profondément encaissées et coupées de rivières qui les cisaillent.
Alaverdi était en contrebas comme en terre étrangère.

Toutes les villes de ces vallées appartiennent à un autre monde que les villages des hauteurs : des villes d’industries nées à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, ou au XIXe, ou plus tard encore avec l’URSS, villes riches, actives et populeuses — villes ruinées aujourd’hui.
La marshrutka d’Erevan, une épave crasseuse, nous avait abandonnés le matin à Vanadzor, l’ancienne Kirovakan, quelque part entre l’un ou l’autre des gigantesques complexes chimiques à l’arrêt qui encerclent la ville. Le taxi avec lequel nous avions continué était conduit par un Arménien de Rostov sur le Don, un conducteur de bus scolaires à la retraite vivant d’aller-retour entre la Russie et l’Arménie. De Vanadzor, il nous a conduit par la vallée vers Alaverdi, une autre ville industrielle dévastée, dont l’abandon encombre une vallée obscurcie par la poussière de cuivre.
Une vallée comme un couloir oppressant : la vallée suit la rivière, la route suit la vallée, la voie ferrée suit la route et rien ne peut sortir de la vallée à moins de se hisser entre les rochers.

À Alaverdi, nous avons déjeuné près d’une station-service juste avant le pont, une simple baraque de planches avec une seule table, une large peinture représentant le mont Ararat et une jeune patronne un peu distante aux cheveux décolorés qui, agitée par notre passage, a tenu à nous faire goûter de tout ce qu’elle avait.

A un moment, elle m’a appelée à l’arrière de sa baraque, m’invitant à avancer sur le petit balcon qui surplombait la rivière. D’un large mouvement du bras, elle m’a offert la vue : ce qu’elle aimait par dessus tout en ce lieu, me dit-elle, c’était la beauté du paysage — tout est si beau ici, la montagne, le torrent en bas, les arbres…

Et moi, j’aurais tant voulu que cette beauté me soit accessible. Voir moi aussi la beauté de ce lieu, de cette bolge qui, ce jour-là, était le lieu le plus terrifiant qu’il m’ait été donné de rencontrer : les roches déchiquetées et souillées de neige rougie, l’eau brune de boue cuivrée comme une pâte malsaine en dessous de nous, les arbres encore dépouillés de feuilles mais chargés de centaines de sacs en plastiques multicolores — et les façades caverneuses des usines et des immeubles — tout cela mêlé dans une même interrogation : est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent ?

Je lui ai dit : oui, le printemps va arriver et je suis rentrée.

La voie ferrée dans la vallée, c’est celle qui va d’Erevan à Moscou. Dans le train Moscou-Erevan qui, en 1991, traverse un pays qui se désintègre, le cinéaste Artavazd Pelechian filme, caméra à l’épaule, des visages. Visages d’hommes et de femmes, visages d’enfants, visages qui vivent, visages qui s’endorment, chacun pris dans le défilement d’un voyage dont l’horizon n’apparaît que par fragments avant de se clore sur lui-même. Pelechian, né en février 1938 à Leninakan en Arménie soviétique, est un réalisateur d’essais cinématographiques, un documentariste et un théoricien du cinéma. Ses films sont essentiellement des courts ou moyens métrages presque muets même si le son y tient une place centrale.

Artavazd Pelechian, La fin (Конец), film en 35 mm, noir et blanc, 8 minutes, 1992.

La voie ferrée n’est pas abandonnée, il y passe encore sans doute quelques trains chaque jour — mais elle mène désormais une autre vie. La vallée n’est pas encore abandonnée non plus, elle s’endort, elle s’éteint. Ils sont nombreux à partir au loin.

Quitter la vallée alors, monter, laisser tout derrière soi. Laisser la voie ferrée, la route, les villes, les machines, les usines, la rouille, le ciment effrité, les débris, la neige sale.
Monter vers les arbres.

Vers les villages.
Vers tout qui ouvre ses portes au passant, au voyageur, au vagabond.
Vers la mémoire.

Le printemps finira bien par arriver.

Prokudin-Gorsky, Jeune femme arménienne en vêtements de fête, Artvin, ca. 1905-1915.

A rekening or rehearsing

Rĕcēnsio, onis, f. Multitudinis cujusvis lustratio, sive recognitio. [מפקד miphkádh ספר sephár. ἐξέτασις. Gal. Reueue, examen du conte, & du nombre. Ital. Riuedimento, essamine di genti & nomi. Germ. Das abzehlen, oder besichtigen einer menge: Musterung. Hispan. El alarde. Polon. Liczba okazanich. Vngar. Mustra, meg zamlalas. Angl. A rekening or rehearsing.] ut, Recensio copiarum, sive exercitus. ¶ Interdum accipitur pro censu civium, eorumque facultatum: qui Romae quinto quôque anno à Censoribus fieri solebat. τίμημα. Cic. pro Mil. Qui nympharum aedem incendit, ut memoriam publicae recensionis, tabulis publicis impressam, extingueret.

Rĕcēnsītŭs, a, um, Participium, à verbo antiquo Recensio, sis, quartae conjugationis, ut ait Georgius Valla. Idem significans, quod Recensus. [פקוד pakúdh נספר nispár. ἀπαριθμητείς, καταλεχθείς. Gall. Reueu, conte, nombré. Ital. Riueduto, contato, nominato. Germ. Gezehle, oder abgezehle. Hisp. Remembrado, nombrado. Pol. Przeliczoni. Vng. Meg zamlaltatot, valagottatott. Ang. Rekened, or told.] Sueton. in Jul. Caes. cap. 41: Instituit, ut quotannis in demortuorum locum, ex iis, qui recensiti non essent, subsortitio à Praetore fieret. Claud. in Eutrop. l. 2: Prisca recensitis evolvite secula fastis.

Rĕcēnsŭs, a, um. Particip. Recognitus [פקוד pakúdh נספר nispár. ἀπαριθμητείς, καταλεχθείς. Gall. Reueu, conte, nombré. Ital. Reueduto, contato, nominato. Germ. Wider abgezehlet. Hisp. Remembrado, nombrado. Pol. Odliczoni. Vng. Meg zamlaltatot, rostaltatott. Ang. Reckened or teld.] Sueton. in Vespas. cap. 9. Amplissimos ordines, & exhaustos caede varia, & contaminatos veteri negligentia, purgavit, supplevitque recenso Senatu, & equite; submotis indignissimis, & honestissimo quoque Italicorum ac provincialium allecto.

Calepinus, Dictionarium undecim linguarum, Basileae 1598
Jews in WWI. Vienna, Jewish Museum (es)
Armenians in Hungary
The end of the Armenian exhibition
Imogen Cunningham’s passport
Don – A tragedy and its afterlives
Life is beautiful. Vladimir Vorobev’s photo exhibition (es)
Before the storm. The Paris World Exposition of 1937 (fr)
Moscow, Mayakovsky memorial museum (ru)
The Art Nouveau in Szabadka
Political allegory of Europe, 1791. Moscow, Historical Museum
Moscow, museums in the former Red October factory
Captain Ostapenko in the Memento Park
On the 60th birthday of Comrade Rákosi
Viktor Akhlomov’s photo exhibition in Moscow
The history of the Hungarian photography in London (es)
Moscow, 1900-1960. Photo exhibition
The Lithuanian school
Black people in the zoo
The museum of censorship
Flamenco exhibition, Barcelona
History of the Hungarian railways, Szentendre (es)
Exhibition of medieval bicycles by Boris Indrikov (ru)
Max von Oppenheim’s Tell Halaf Museum
Socialist realist auction in the Pintér galery, Budapest
Menachem Kipnis fotói Krakkóban (es)
Kimono exhibition in St.-Petersburg
The wonders of Egypt
St. John’s statue in Kalocsa
The musketeer bear in the Ambras cabinet of curiosity
Escalas photo exhibition in Mallorca
Pharmacy history of Kőbánya
Day of the Book
Bernard Plossu on Josef Sudek (es)
Josef Sudek in Madrid (es)
Aurel Stein exhibition at the Academy of Budapest
Dogs in the Dahlem Museum’s precolumbian exhibition
Rodin’s statues on Palma’s promenade
Tibetan treasures in the Dahlem Museum
The Dahlem museum, Berlin

Mór Jókai: The Damokos
Piotr Zychowicz: The Ribbentrop-Beck Pact. Could have been the Poles allies of Hitler?
Book of Honors for Empress Maria of Austria (1603) edited by Studiolum (es) and the summary of the book (es)
Umberto Eco: History of fabulous lands and places, 2013
The lion’s tail from the Physiologus to Umberto Eco
Robert Makłowicz: Café Museum. Central Europe 2012 (es)
The taste of traveling. French geography textbook, 1905 (fr)
Søren Peder Sørensen: Hungarian soldiers in Danemark
Sándor Petőfi in Russia. Любовь и свобода (cat)
Witold Szolginia: The old Lwów (es it
Juan Agüero de Trasmiera: Flores romanas (1512) (es)
Miquela Forteza Oliver: The origins of the press in Mallorca (es)
Ex libris in Lwów (es)
Müteferrika, the first Turkish printer (es)
Müteferrika in Iran (es)
Covarrubias’ Hungarian words
Covarrubias and the Spanish-Hebrew-Hungarian language relationship (es)
Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel (1565) (es)
Sándor Petőfi in Russia. Любовь и свобода (cat)
The victory of Belgrade, 1456. Várak, 2010/12
Antonio Muñoz Molina on García Lorca
Seals of prison libraries
Books of Essad Bey / Lev Nussimbaum (es az)
Werner Rolevinck’s Fasciculus temporum, 15th c. (es)
The origins of Grotius’ Mare Liberum (es)
Péter Bod’s 18th-c. world maps
Ivan Olbracht’s Subcarpathian novels
Philip Hoare: Leviathan, or The Whale (es)
Anatomies of unexisting beings (es)
Veritas filia Dei. The first Russian emblem book and its origins
Lenin, Hitler and the children
Writ on water
Modern luboks (es)
Leo Rosten: The Joys of Yiddish, and Tamás Raj: 100+1 Yiddish words
Apotheosis of the bookworm
Erasmus’ bookworms (es)
Erasmus on the Roman Index (es)
Erasmus: Executio in effigie (es)
Hafez and Erasmus: butterfly in the candle’s flame (es)
Erasmus and the bear cub
The “Beard Codex” (1483) in the library of Kalocsa
Hyginus: De Astronomica (es)
Daniel Kehlmann: Measuring the World
Kehlmann on Gauss and Bolyai
Kehlmann on the last judgement
Goethe’s Wanderer’s Nightsong though the end of the world (Kehlmann, Tolstaya, Alkman)
Saramago and the elephants
Kőbánya, Requiem for a casino
Orhan Pamuk’s libraries
Olga Grushin: The dream life of Sukhanov
Móser Zoltán: Man, I have spoken…
The evangeliary of Malecz (es)
Medieval typos (es)
Béla Bartók: Romanian folk dancesHungarian Jewish concert by the Muzsikás Band
Song of Hungarian beggars in Spain (es)
Leshchenko Cabaret: Homesickness (es)
Romanian and Hungarian Carpathians Marches, 1916
Kiki, Bouba and the contours of tango (es, ru)
Verdemar’s secret, 1943 (es, ru)
Winter songs from Hungary to Iran
Katyusha (es, az)
Spring breeze water spreads
Horacio Molina and the tango (es)
Zaraza. Tango in Bucharest
Golden city (Assa, 1987)
Whose song is it? A wandering melody in the Balkans
Chechen girl in Istanbul
The Persian bird of freedom
Tangos of Carlos Gardel (es)
Alkis Alkeos: The first cigarette
Italian and Hungarian soldier’s songs from WWI
The night of bards in Russia
Lenin Song, or Funeral March
The origins of Bella ciao
Soheil Nafissi: Comets and nights
The Mexican corrido (es)
The power of songs. War songs from the Balkans
Songs of the Spanish Transition (es)
Songs of the Argentinian Transition (es)
Leonard Cohen and García Lorca
Rumi and Bach
Hassidic rooster and Sephardic nightingale
The rooster is crowing for the second time
The nightingale is singing again (es)
History sung

Artavazd Pelechian: from Начало to Конец, and Beyond
The first Soviet color film (1935)
The Death Match in Kiev, 1942
“The party is on.” The lost Warsaw, 1939 (pl)
“Eastern wind.” German and Soviet anti-Polish films, 1941 (pl)
Czernowitz in Romanian and Soviet newsreels, 1939-40
Polish newsreels from 1956
Tengri, the blue sky
Santiago de Baku (az, es)
Novruz in the soviet Baku, 1967 (az)
On Iranian films
A touch of spice (es)
Golden city (Assa, 1987)
Greeks of Pontus: Waiting for the clouds

Far away from Mount Ararat

Among the many ethnic groups of historical Hungary perhaps the Armenians are the least known. True, many of us have an acquaintance with Transylvanian Armenian origins, and in the early 1990s, after the introduction of the new law on ethnic minorities we saw with surprise the multitude of the newly formed Armenian local governments, but the exact origins and time of arrival of the Armenians to Hungary and the considerable role played by them in 18th to 20th-century Hungarian history was only recently presented in detail by such volumes as Miklós Gazdovits’ Az erdélyi örmények története (History of the Transylvanian Armenians, 2006), Gazda Dezső’s Gyergyói örmények könyve (Book of the Gyergyó Armenians, 2007), or the Örmény diaszpóra a Kárpát-medencében (Armenian diaspora in the Carpathian Basin, 2006-2007), edited by Sándor Őze and Bálint Kovács. This makes so important the exhibition Far away from Mount Ararat – Armenian culture in the Carpathian Basin of the Budapest History Museum, which for the first time gives an overview on the history and culture of the Armenians in Hungary.

The exhibition does not attempt to be comprehensive. It only groups around some core themes a large number of Hungarian Armenian objects of art, most of which are now presented for the first time at a public exhibition. The themes are introduced by short descriptions, and the juxtaposition of the objects in itself suggests a historical and thematic thread, but – and this is our only, but serious criticism – precisely the obscurity of this history and the ground-breaking character of the exhibition would have required a catalog to present in detail the historical and social context of these objects, persons and places.

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The road leading through the over four hundred years of history of the Armenians in Hungary starts at Mount Ararat, as the basic reference point of post-flood humanity and especially of the Armenians, from which the Armenians immigrating into Transylvania in the 17th century were indeed far away. But the proof that they have preserved the memory of the origins is the 19th-century silver belt, inlaid with gems, conserved at the Armenian Catholic Parish of Budapest, whose pieces represent the vedutas of ancient Armenian cities, Varaghavank, Van, Echmiadzin, Aghtamar (each image is enlarged by moving the mouse above them).

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In the middle of the room of the beginnings we are greeted by the icon of St.Gregory the Illuminator, Apostle of the Armenians, due to whose efforts Armenia became the first Christian country in 301. It is a nice transition from the Ararat to the other, Transylvanian half of the room that the icon of the 3rd-century bishop, preserved in the Armenian church of Szamosújvár/Gherla was painted in a popular Transylvanian Baroque style, just as his statue standing in the main square of the Armenian quarter of Isfahan bears the traits of the figures of the Persian heroic epic.

The Transylvanian settlement is evoked by only a few archival images and objects – hope chests and a couple of wedding medallions from the Issekutz family – from “the four Armenian parishes”, Szamosújvár (Gherla, Armenopolis, Հայաքաղաք–Hayakaghak), Erzsébetváros (Eppeschdorf, Dumbrăveni), Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni), Csíkszépvíz (Frumoasa), primarily the first of them, from whose church collections a great part of the exhibited material is drawn.

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The next room illustrates the history of Armenian book printing with a large number of never exhibited books from Armenian collections in the Carpathian Basin, including the world’s first printed Armenian bible and Armenian textbook. This topic is also the apropos of the exhibition, organized for the five hundredth anniversary of the publication of the first Armenian printed book, the prayer book called Urbatagirk, “Friday Book”, printed by the Venetian Hakob Meghapart (“the sinful James”) at the turn of 1512-13.

The short summaries at the display cases outline the history of Armenian typography. The printing press of Hakob Meghapart was brought by his successor to Constantinople, where in the 18th century they published about 300 works in more than 20 Armenian printing houses. However, the Transylvanian Armenians, who in the late 17th century united with the Catholic church, got the bulk of their books from the Typographia Polyglotta of the Roman Propaganda Fide: by the end of the 18th century we know 44 Armenian works published here. The Mechitarist Order, founded in 1701 in Constantinople, and working from 1715 to the present day on the St. Lazarus Island in Venice – the “Armenian Benedictines”, the greatest exponents of armenology of the period – published their Armenian books in Italian printing houses until the late 18th century, but in 1789 they founded their own printing press, where they published hundreds of books in nearly forty languages: these, due to the Armenian diaspora, reached even the most remote provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In 1773 a group of the Venetian Mechitarists settled in Trieste, and in 1810 they moved to Vienna, having an important scientific and publishing activity in both places.

A Transylvanian Hungarian printer also played a decisive role in the history of Armenian typography. The most influential Armenian printer, Voskan Yerevantsi founded his printing house in Amsterdam in 1660, and as he was unsatisfied with the available Armenian fonts, he ordered the design of a new Armenian font from Miklós Kis of Misztótfalu, which quickly spread throughout Europe, and its various versions are still in use.

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A separate room is dedicated, apparently due to the richness of the material, to the monuments of the Armenian Catholic Church in Transylvania, pontifical portraits, church dresses, votive and altar paintings. The three portraits brought from Szamosújvár/Gherla do not necessarily represent the three greatest personalities of the Armenian church, they could have also chosen someone else, such as Bishop Minas Zilifdarean (1610-1686), under whose leadership the Armenians migrate into Transylvania. These three lives, however, well demonstrate the large social and geographical scope of the Armenian intellectuals, and their possibilities of choice between different cultural centers. The Moldova-born Oxendio Virziresco (Verzár) (1655-1715) learned in the Propaganda Fide missionary college in Rome. After 1685 he worked on the union of the Transylvanian Armenians with the Catholic church, first in the midst of great resistance, but in the end with a complete success, and in 1690, after the end of Bishop Minas he became the church leader of the Armenians in Transylvania. Stephano Roska (1670-1739) came from an Armenian family of Kamenets-Podolsk. He was the Armenian provost of Stanislawów (now Ivano-Frankivsk), and on behalf of the Armenian archbishop of Lemberg he visited the four Transylvanian Armenian parishes, founding a number of important religious societies. Mihály Theodorovicz (1690-1760) was born in Bistritz/Beszterce/Bistrița, at that time an important Armenian settlement, and he became from a shop assistant the Archdeacon of Szamosújvár. He built the first Armenian stone church, the Salamon church (1723-25), and he introduced the Gregorian calendar. Maria Theresa appointed him bishop, but eventually it did not receive an ecclesiastical approval: it is since then that the Transylvanian Armenian community has belonged under the Roman Catholic bishop of Gyulafehérvár/Alba Iulia.

Since the 1770s the cult of the Queen of the Rosary was in flower in Szamosújvár, and her auspices were represented in a number of votive paintings offered as a sign of gratitude for being saved for some great trouble. On the images exhibited here, a horseman who escaped a flooding, a family surviving a fire, and a woman recovering from illness say thanks for the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

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By the early 19th century the relations of the Armenians with their former Crimean and Anatolian centers became loose, but the way of ascension into the Hungarian bourgeoisie was open to us. They changed their language for Hungarian, and among all the ethnic minorities they participated in the largest proportion in the staff of officers and in the financing of the 1848-49 War of Independence. Two of the famous thirteen generals, executed in Arad on 6 October 1849, Ernő Kiss and Vilmos Lázár were Armenians, and the Armenian general János Czetz in exile became the founder of Argentina’s military geographical institute, which under his direction charted all Argentina. After the Compromise between the Austrian court and the Hungarian political elite in 1867, the Armenians participated in large numbers in the political and cultural life. The last room is a portrait gallery of their prominent representatives.

On the other hand, as a compensation for the assimilation, the ideology of Armenism was born, with the goal of strengthening the Armenian identity. Its followers started large-scale historical research of Transylvanian Armenians, they launched the journal Armenia in Szamosújvár, and in 1905 they founded in the city the Armenian Museum (which just now, in March 2013 received back its collection, nationalized in the 1950s). Eminent representatives of Armenism, Kristóf Lukácsy and Kristóf Szongott also joined the research of Hungarian prehistory, defending in several publications the Hungarian-Armenian linguistic relationship. The show-case of the last room presents a selection of publications on Armenian topics from the 19th and 20th century.

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The walls of the exhibition’s exit corridor are covered with photos of Armenian families from the turn of the century, the documents of everyday history. Hundreds of lives and stories that clearly show, how much more to research is in this history. And in this sense the title of this photo collection, Mirror fragments, is indeed valid for the whole exhibition.

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