This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Yervant Shahaziz (January 13, 1856)

Poet Smbat Shahaziz (1840-1907) is today remembered as the author of a popular poem, “Dream,” that then became a lyric song. Less known is a relative of his, Yervant Shahaziz, who became a literary researcher and ethnologist.

Yervant Shahaziz(ian) was born on January 13, 1856, in the village of Ashtarak, near Echmiadzin. After finishing the provincial school of Yerevan in 1870, he continued his studies in Moscow, where he graduated in 1879 from the Lazarian College and then studied for the next three years at the lyceum section. For the next thirty-five years (1882-1917), he would be teacher, assistant principal, and principal of the diocesan school of Nor-Nakhichevan (nowadays part of Rostov-on-Don). In 1918-1921, he was a teacher at the workers’ school of Rostov-on-Don and director of the local Armeinan museum. In 1918-1919, he was co-editor of the weekly Hay Hamaynk of the Armenians of Nor Nakhichevan and Rostov-on-Don.

In 1922, a new period in Shahaziz’s life opened when he was invited to Yerevan to participate in the creation of the central museum of history and culture of Soviet Armenia (today’s Museum of Literature and Art “Yeghishe Charents”). He brought with him a rich collection of material from Nor-Nakhichevan and worked for the next sixteen years as head of the historical section. In 1938, he became a researcher at the Institute of Literature, which became part of the network of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia after 1943 and was named after Manuk Abeghian in 1944.

Shahaziz was a prolific author, who in his initial years produced many works essentially dedicated to the history of Nor-Nakhichevan. Among them, he wrote a biography of writer Mikayel Nalbandian (1897), and two books on the history of the Armenian community and its customs (1903). After he moved to Armenia, he produced an important work on the history of Yerevan, Old Yerevan (1931), a work of documents about Nalbandian’s life (1932), a book of documents and a biography of Khachatur Abovian (1940 and 1948), and the biography of his uncle Smbat Shahaziz (1944), among others. He wrote a history of his birthplace, Ashtarak, which was posthumously published in 1987, and left unpublished a work about Circassia and the Armenians.

Yervant Shahaziz earned a Ph.D. in philological sciences at the age of 78, in 1944, and became an emeritus worker of sciences of Soviet Armenia in 1946. He passed away on August, 12, 1951, in Yerevan.

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