Norayr Dadourian

Norayr Dadourian’s Speaks about History of Armenian Poetry


By Kevork Keushkerian

ALTADENA, Calif. — A lecture organized by Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Pasadena-Glendale Chapter on Sunday, October 6, at the Beshgeturian Center Hall, featured Norayr Dadourian and titled “The Armenian Rebirth (1000-1795).”

On behalf of TCA’s Pasadena-Glendale Chapter, Kevork Keushkerian welcomed the guests and then introduced the speaker.

Dadourian presented his lecture with a slide show that took a little over one hour, but it was both very interesting and highly informative. The Armenian Rebirth is the poetic era that starts after Krikor of Nareg (951-1003) and ends before Sayat Nova, who was born in 1712.

It was very interesting to hear that up until Krikor of Nareg, the Armenian poetry was spiritual in nature, composed of prayers and hymns, and addressed to God. After that, Armenian poetry took a major turn towards the secular realm, addressing previously considered taboo themes like the beauty of nature, enjoying food and drink, and confessions of love.

Slide by slide, Dadourian presented 19 poets, some of whom were religious fathers of the Armenian church and two of whom were females, a phenomenon very strange for that time period. This period of Armenian poetry started with Krikor Bahlavouni (990-1058) and ended with Naghash Hovnatan (1661-1722). Interestingly, Naghash means miniature painter.

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Poetic dialogue between lovers in the Armenian rebirth era, as presented by Dadourian, evolved from figurative speech, where expressions of love were implicit to more explicit language. In the figurative speech realm, a bird meant a male lover, whereas a rose meant a female lover. In the more explicit expressions later, words like bosom, breast, and kissing on the lips were commonly used.

It was interesting to know that Hovhannes Yerznkatsi (1225-1293) was the inventor of the quatrains in secular Armenian poetry. Another eye opening fact that was revealed in the lecture was the use of the triangular dialogue by Nahabed Kouchag, who died in 1592.

At this time, triangular dialogue was introduced, where the man addressed his lover through an imaginary figure, as direct verbal encounter was not acceptable yet. Furthermore, Nagash Hovnatan was commissioned to paint the dome of Holy Echmiadzin in 1712.

Khatchig Nahabedian

Dadourian was born in Istanbul, Turkey. He first attended Karaguezian Elementary School, and then Mkhitarian Middle and Secondary School. He was accepted to the University of Bosporus in Istanbul, where he studied philosophy and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

He is married to Never Silahli and have four children. He has been teaching Armenian language and literature at the AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena, since its founding in 2006. Every summer, he takes his 11th grade students to Armenia for an exploratory, educational, and cultural trip.

In tune with the theme of the lecture, Khatchig Nahabedian rendered a beautiful song by Sayat Nova. Reception followed the lecture, during which the members of the audience continued asking informed questions to the lecturer.


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