Did You Know? (9)

By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto

There were at least six Armenians on board SS Titanic when the ocean liner sank the night of April 14-15, 1912. Nshan Krikorian and David Vartanian were the sole Armenian survivors. The Titanic carried 885 crew members, 337 first-class passengers, 285 second-class passengers and 721 third-class passengers. The death toll was 1,523. Krikorian and Vartanian were headed to Ontario, Canada. The other Armenians on board were Ortin Zakarian, Maprieder Zakarian, Orsen Sirayanian, and Sarkis Mardirossian.

Roy Essoyan, head of Associated Press’ Middle East bureau in 1965, was expelled from the Soviet Union for reporting on the serious—and still secret–breach between the USSR and Mao Zedong’s China. His baptismal name was Karekin. Essoyan was also stationed in Hong Kong and Tokyo. He retired in Hawaii in 1985. He died at 92 in 2012.

The kerosene lamp was invented by Ignacy Lukasiewicz of Poland. He was of Armenian ancestry. His Cilician forefathers had settled in Poland in the 12th century. For centuries, the Armenians of Poland were prominent in economics, politics, and the military. They were also leading merchants and diplomats.

In 1936, Anastas Mikoyan, Soviet Union’s minister of foreign trade, toured the US. Where he became enthralled with American ice-cream making technology. Wasting no time, he imported the necessary equipment and in 1937 the first Soviet ice cream factory opened. Mikoyan decreed that every Soviet citizen should eat no less than five kilos of ice cream and as a healthy food, rich in calcium and calories.

There is a consensus among many art historians including Josef  Strzvgowski, Auguste Choisy and others, that the Crusades were the vehicle for the introduction of Gothic Art from Armenia into Europe. For example, Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, hired many Armenian architects from Cilicia to restore and build churches in Jerusalem.

During and after the Crusades, the Armenians of Jerusalem were active in trades and had their own market. In the 19th century, traveler Clermont-Ganneau found an Armenian stone street-sign inserted into the wall at the entrance to the Draper’s Market, also known as Souk-el-Khawajat or Souk  el-Souyagh (Goldsmiths’ Market). The street was one of the three long streets which was called the ‘closed market.’ Beside the Armenian writing were tools of the guild. The stone inscription was carried off to Paris. The closed markets were built by Queen Melisende.

Frankish chroniclers emphasize the participation of Armenian and Greek builders in the building of Crusader fortresses and churches. Steven Runciman, one of the most famous experts on the Crusades, wrote that Armenians were great experts on fortifications and military architecture. T.S. R. Boase, an expert on Crusader buildings, enumerates the Armenian contributions to fortress architecture. He saw, as the most outstanding example, the Castle of Anamur, with its thirty-six towers and stresses that, “horse-shoe towers are Armenian in inspiration.

Armenian proverbs:

“When they want to kill a dog they say it has gone mad.”
“Don’t burn the carpet to get rid of the fleas.”
“If a mother-in-law had been a good thing, God would have had one.”
“When God wants to make a poor man happy, He makes him lose his donkey and then find it again.”

For centuries Armenians in Western Armenia cultivated silk. With it they wove fine carpets and flowing scarves. They were sold on the Silk Road from China to Europe. That was until the 1915 Genocide of Armenians. In 2006 the mayor of Agacli decided to revive the silk trade. He was inspired by his Armenian wife whose parents had been rescued by Kurds during the genocide. But only a pair of gnarled mulberry was left as a testimony to the historic Armenian presence and Armenian silk production before the genocide of Armenians. Through assistance from the European Union, the silk industry was revived. The mayor says everything—scarves and carpets are made by hand just like the Armenians did.

Armenian-born Education Minister Yacoub Artin Pasha inaugurated Egypt’s first girls’ school in 1873. Yakoub is the Arabic version of the Armenian Hagop (Jacob) and Artin is the abbreviation of the Armenian (Haroutune).

Picture in teaser: Castle of Anamur

  1. Fascinating information.
    Rightly so, we take pride in the great Armenian minds that have created the kerosene lamp in Poland, have built great fortifications everywhere, ”Crusader” buildings in Jerusalem, and so much more. The sad part is the Armenian skills of silk production, since the Genocide has benefited arch enemies of Armenians the turkish occupiers of Western Armenia. We need great minds to benefit the Armenian Nation now.
    Thank you Jirair.

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