By Henrik Bakhchinyan
Recently, I received the new edition of the fifth volume of the Great Russian Encyclopedia (Moscow, 2015). Having spent many years studying the works of Sayat-Nova and medieval literature, I naturally read the article “Sayat-Nova” and discovered the following glaring errors and, worse, intentional distortions about the man and the artist.
The author of the article, A. Bagirov, Doctor in Philology, presents Sayat-Nova to the modern reader as a folk ashugh (minstrel) and poet of Transcaucasia. This is new, a collective Transcaucasian poet!
Sayat-Nova was so talented that he wrote poetry not only in his native Armenian, but also in Georgian and Turkish; in addition, he knew Persian and Baluchi. At the same time, in all previous Russian, Soviet and foreign encyclopedias (including musical), vocabularies and histories of literature without exception it is written that Sayat-Nova is an Armenian poet. It is difficult to suspect the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (as well as Britannica or Brockhaus and Efron) of tendentiousness.
Even more shocking is Bagirov’s next “discovery.” It turns out, Sayat-Nova’s father, Mahtesi Karapet (Mahtesi is a believer who has made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem), was a Syrian Turk from Aleppo with the Armenian name Karapet (!!!), and to tie loose ends, Bagirov ascribes to him the Armenian-Gregorian faith.
It is difficult to imagine a greater misunderstanding than of a Syrian Christian Turkish follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church, originally from the city of Adana (under the conditions of the Ottoman Empire, which included the city since 14th century, it was impossible, as up to the 14th century the territory of historical Armenia and the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia were inhabited predominantly by Armenians until the end of the 19th century). To write something like that, you have to possess evidence, new data. If there are any, we will gladly read them and introduce them into the academic sphere.