Armenian Women

in search of Herstory

Archive for the category “artist”

Armen Ohanian (1887-1976)

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Dancer, Writer and Actress

Armen Ohanian was born in Shamakha to an upper class Armenian family. Her real name was Sophia Pirboudaghian. A devastating earthquake caused her family to move to Baku, where she attended a Russian school. She graduated in 1905, the same year the anti-Armenian pogroms, which she witnessed, caused the death of her father. She was hurriedly married to an Armenian Iranian doctor, Haik Ohanian, but the marriage did not go well and ended within a year. She kept her married name but changed her first name to Armenuhi (later Armen) when she began her acting career at the Armenian Dramatic Theatre of Baku in 1907. She later moved to Moscow and studied plastic arts at the Nelidova School, while performing her first dances at the Maly Theatre.

She lived in different places where her love of art and performance took her; Baku, Tbilisi, Iran, Paris and finally settled in Mexico with her second husband.

While in Iran, She founded the Union of Iranian Theater-lovers in Tehran just before the Revolution and in 1910 she organized a musical and literary gala in cooperation with the Iranian Women Benevolent Association; for the first time, Iranian women were able to play on the stage. In Iran, she also perfected her skills in Oriental dances and afterwards toured Egypt and the Ottoman Empire to perform in various places. She was also invited to Europe, where she became famous for her exotic dances. She created her own choreographies based on Armenian and Iranian music, inspired by the “free dance” movement. She continued her performances in many European cities, as well as United States and Mexico. The press followed her everywhere covering her events. Writers like Ghil, Claude Anet and others talked a lot about her.

Once in Paris, she started writing. One of her first literary works was the Dancer of Shamakha, published in 1918 in French and prefaced by Anatole France.

Eventually, she founded a school of dance in Mexico city in 1936. She was also very engaged politically and and active member of the Mexican Communist Party.  In 1946 she published Happy Armenia, a book on Soviet Armenia in Spanish, which marked a renewal of interest in her Armenian ancestry. Among her literary output, however, her work of choice was a poem, “My Dream as an Exile,” written in Armenian and published in 1953 in Paris.

Ohanian made a comeback in the Mexican dance scene in 1948 and appeared on the stage in Paris in 1949 and 1953, when she was well into her sixties. During a second visit to the Soviet Union in 1958 with her husband, they traveled briefly to Yerevan, Armenia, where she offered part of her private files to the Museum of Literature and Arts. After returning to Mexico, she continued to write, translate, and publish until 1969, when she came out with a first volume of memoirs in Spanish.

Source :  Artsvi Bakhchinyan, The Dancer of Shamakha, Yerevan, 2007

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Anahit Tsitsikian (1926-1999)

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First renowned Armenian woman-violinist

Born in St-Petersburg in 1926, she began playing the violin at the age of six. At the beginning of World War II, she moved to Armenia and studied at the Yerevan state conservatory from 1946 to 1950 where she was granted the Stalin Scholarship. In 1954 she completed her graduate course at the Moscow State Conservatory.

She began performing professionally at elementary school age; her performances included many solo performances as well as with symphonic orchestras. Beginning in 1961 she became the principal soloist of the Armenian Philharmonic Hall. Ms. Tsitsikian performed throughout the Republics of the former Soviet Union and in 27 countries around the world.

Starting in 1950, she worked as a professor at the Yerevan State Conservatory, and she established three new courses in its curriculum: The History and Theory of Bowed Instruments, The History of Armenian Performing Arts, and A Course of Music Teaching Practice.

During her artistic life Professor Anahit Tsitsikian performed in more than 1000 recitals, recorded sixty pieces of archived music and authored more than 300 articles and scenarios for many radio and television programs.

You can listen to her performances here.

Arzu Khatun (12th-13th century)

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Embroidery and weaving

Arzu Khatun was the wife of Vakhtank, prince of upper khachen. With her husband, she participated in founding different churches and monasteries and was close to  the Armenian legist ,  Mkhitar Gosh  who later dedicate to the the couple the first copy of his book of laws.

Arzu Khatun was known for her expertise and skill in weaving and lace making. She offered her handmade finely decorated curtains to different churches like Dadivank and Haghbat.

After the death of her husband in 1214 she built a magnificent monument-church  inside the monastery of Dadivank called Surp Katoghike which still stands today.

Kirakos Gandzaketsi a 13th century Armenian historian from Artsakh, praised Arzu-Khatun for her wonderful talent in embroidery and lace making:

“ It was a marvel to those who beheld it…dyed with diverse colors and illustrated with images very precisely executed as if they had been carved, depicting the Savior’s incarnation and [lives] of other saints… Those who saw it would praise God for giving women the wisdom to produce tapestries and the genius of embroidery”

Source: R. Hovannisian, The Armenian People, 1997

Armenian Women Encyclopedia, Amaras, 2011

Photo: Armenian Embroidery www.thetextileblog.blogspot.com

Azniv Hrachya – Ազնիվ Հրաչյա (1853-1920)

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Actress

Azniv Hrachya (real name, Minasyan) was born in Constantinople, where she took her first steps in theater in 1869 at the Eastern theater. She first acted in armenian historical plays, then in Italian and french melodramas. In 1883 she abandoned the stage and came back in 1893 to play in the Armenian theaters of Tbilisi and Baku. She is one of the representatives of classical realism in armenian theater. In 1909, she published her memoirs about her life as an actress. She died in 1920, due to a serious illness.

She was often compared to Elonora Duse, the italian actress.

Source: Armenian Encyclopedia, book II.

Zabel Boyajian – Զապել Պոյաճեան (1872- 1957)

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Poet, painter and playwright

Born in 1872 at Diarbekir (one of the ancient Armenian capitals, Tigranakerd), her father was the British Vice-Consul in Diarbekir. Her mother was an Englishwoman, a kinswoman to the poet Samuel Rogers (1763-1855). After loosing her father during the massacres of mid 1890s in Ottoman Turkey, Zabelle was sent to Cyprus  by a relief committee to help organize  an industrial home for Armenian widows and orphans and nurse the wounded and sick. She continued her education in London, and there she settled till the end of her flamboyant life as a creative and performing artist. She studied at Slade School of Fine Art and had her individual art exhibitions in London in 1910 and 1912 and in Germany in 1920 and later in Egypt, Italy and Belgium.

Her first novel Esther, was published in 1901.

She collected, translated and assembled  – partly in collaboration with Alice S. Blackwell – a voluminous album of a book titled Armenian Legends and Poems, published in 1916.

She wrote numerous articles and was a valiant campaigner for the Armenian cause. Most of her literary volumes and plays included her own illustrations. She was fluent in Armenian,  English, Itallan, Greek, Turkish,  French, Russian,  and German

She had extensive correspondence with the great Armenian literary figures of the time, particularly with Arshak Tchobanian and Avedik Issahakian.

Her painting-portrait of Raffi is now at the Tcharents Museum of Literature & Arts.

Sources: Zoryan Institute, Prof. Khachatur Pilikian

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Բանաստեղծուհի, նկարչուհի և դրամատուրգ

Ծնվել է 1872 թ-ին՝ Դիարբեքիրում (հայկական հնագույն մայրաքաղաքներից մեկը՝ Տիգրանակերտ): Նրա հայրը Դիարբեքիրի բրիտանական փոխհյուպատոսն էր: Մայրը անգլիացի էր՝ Սամուել Ռոջերսի ազգականը (1763-1855): 1890-ական թվականներին  Օսմանյան Թուրքիայի  ջարդերում հորը կորցնելուց հետո Զաբելը փոխօգնության կոմիտեի կողմից ուղարկվեց Կիպրոս՝ օգնելու կազմակերպել արդյունաբերության տուն հայ այրիների , որբերի  համար և բժշկելու հիվանդներին և վիրավորներին: Նա շարունակեց կրթությունը Լոնդոնում, որտեղ անց կացրեց իր վառ կյանքը որպես ստեղծարար դերասանուհի: Զաբելը ուսանեց «Սլեյդ» արվեստի դպրոցում և իր անհատական ցուցահանդեն ունեցավ Լոնդոնում 1910 և  1912թթ–ին, 1920-ին՝ Գերմանիայում, այնուհետև Եգիպտոսում, Իտալիայում, Բելգիայում:

Նրա «Esther » խորագիրը կրող առաջին վեպը տպագրվեց 1901 թվականին:

Զաբելը հավաքագրեց ու թարգմանեց «Հայկական առասպելներ ու լեգենդներ»  խորագիրը կրող գրքերի ժողովածու՝ մասամբ Ալիս Ս. Բլեքուելլի հետ համատեղ, որը տպագրվեց 1916 թվականին:

Զաբել Բոյաջյանը գրել է բազմաթիվ հոդվածներ և  եղել  Հայկական հարցի անվեհեր ջատագովներից մեկը: Նրա ստեղծագորխության աշխատանքները հաճախ ներառել են նրա իսկ  նկարազարդումները:  Նա սահուն տիրապետում էր հայերեն, ռուսերեն , հունարեն, անգլերեն, իտալերեն, ֆրանսերեն, թուրքերեն, գերմաներեն լեզուներին:

Զաբելը լայնածավալ նամակագրական կապի մեջ էր ժամանկի անվանի հայ մեծանունների հետ, մասնավորապես՝ Արշակ Չոբանյանի, Ավետիք Իսահակյանի:

Նրա ՝ Րաֆֆու դիմանկարը հիմա գտնվում է Չարենցի անվան Գրականության և արվեստի թանգարանում:

Աղբյուրները: Զորյան համալսարան, պրոֆ. Խաչատուր Փիլիկյան

 

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