Did You Know? (12)

By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 10 April 2022

Egypt’s largest tobacco factory was founded by the Matossian brothers. In 1882, Hovhannes Bey Matossian founded the Matossian Tobacco enterprise in Alexandria. In 1886, his brother Garabed opened his own factory in Cairo. The brothers merged their ventures in 1896 under the name of H & G. Matossian. They owned four factories. Some 7,000 Armenians worked at the Matossian enterprises and between 1895 and 1896, 90 percent of Egypt’s cigarette production bore the Matossian trademark. The company lost ground as a result of arbitrary laws and taxes imposed by the British administration intended to weaken local industries. Eventually, the Anglo-American Tobacco Co. bought the assets of the Matossians’ company.

Although many people assume the Armenian miniature painting art died with the demise of the Armenian Cilician Kingdom, the art continued to flourish for further several centuries. The growth of Armenian communities during the 16th and 17th centuries engendered an artistic revival of medieval painting. Leading miniature artists were located in Galicia, Lvov, Stanislav, Zamosc, Kamianets, and Yazlovets Bukovyna. Some of the surviving paintings are in Jerusalem and Yerevan.

Greek sources in the 7th century B.C. mention the high quality of iron produced in Armenia. Other sources suggest that from the second half of the second millennium B.C. to Medieval times, Armenian iron was exported to the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, and India.

Armenian proverbs:

– The toothless dog always barks from a distance.
– The less you need, the more you will be satisfied.
– An egg in the mouth is better than a chicken in the coop.
– If you want someone to laugh, tell him your troubles.
– Inedible fruits are not damaged by frost.
– Remember that as your power grows, so do the number of your enemies.

Armenian amiras were among the top administrators, industrialists and merchants of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the more prominent were Sarkis Amira Momdjian, Abraham Amira Karakehian, Artin Amira Balian, Nigoghos America Dadian, Ohannes Amira Duz, Garabed Amira Aznavourian, and Artin Amira Noradounghian.

Hrant Nassibian founded Egypt’s H. Nassibian Film Studio where many Egyptian movie classics were filmed. The Gudsuzian brothers founded Egypt’s first advertising agency and established the Film Studio Gudsu. They also initiated the use of French and Arabic subtitles. Meanwhile, Ohan J. Justinian was the first to adapt cameras for shooting movies. Other Armenians in Egypt’s film industry were Hagop Aslanian (stage designer), Karkur/Krikor (sound manager), George Kazazian (score artist), Fuad Panossian/al-Zaheri (film music composer), Paul Muradian (film distribution), and Takvor Antunian (film producer).

Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) was France’s top historian of the 20th century. He wrote the following about 16th century Armenian merchants. “…they had great resistance and were very sober. They journeyed to fairs in Germany, to the quaysides of Venice, and to shops to Amsterdam. They dealt with the Indies, Tonkin, Java, the Philippines, and throughout except for China and Japan, Some Armenians even owned ships on the Indian Ocean.”

Armenian inventors

– Gabriel Kazandjian: hand-held hair dryer
– Hovhannes Adamian: color TV
– Stephan Stepanian: concrete mixing and transporting vehicle
– Harry Tatosian: Ice-cream cone
– Arthur Bulbulyan: Facial/ prosthetics pioneer and the design of A-14 oxygen mask
– Luther Simjian: ATM, self-focusing camera, flight speed indicator, automatic postage metering  machine, teleprompter
– Emik Arakelyan: Self-operating robotic wheel that converts manual wheelchairs to automatic
– Alex Manougian: Single handle faucet
– Ignacy Lukasiewicz (Hovhannes Ghugasian): Kerosene lamp (1856)
– Hovhannes Avoyan: Co-founder of Picsart
– Aramais Arutunoff: Inventor of technology for oil drilling
– Giacomo Ciamician: Pioneer of photochemistry research
– Abraham Alikhanyan: Physicist, investigated cosmic rays
– Artem Mikoyan: co-designer of the MiG fighter plane

Word roots

– Arvest (art): Derived from Persian aruastam (expert, magic, clever)
– Tivan: Divan (Iranian) and Diwan (Arabic) means comfortable seat
– Tayag: From Persian “dayak” meaning milk-giver
– Domar: From Iranian “tumar” and Arabic “dummar”
– Narinch: From Sanskrit “naka” and “ranka” meaning copper color
– Aghvor: Derived from “agh” meaning good. Thus, Aghavni.

The Moghul Emperor Akbar was well aware of the commercial aptitude and integrity of the Armenian merchants and realized that they would improve his country’s trade if they were encouraged to make India their home. So he invited them to settle in Agra, the imperial capital. The Armenian merchants responded to Akbar’s invitation and settled in Agra in large numbers. Akbar appointed an Armenian named Abdul Hai as chief justice, court interpreter, and a female doctor for his harem.

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