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Category: History


UDK 930.85


V.A. Ponomaryov

Yurga Institute of Technology (branch) of TPU, Yurga E-mail:

Questions of material and spiritual culture of Armenians of Karabakh and also a problem of development and preservation of their national cultural heritage in the 1920-1990th are considered

Cultural heritage, Christianity monuments, national idukhovny discrimination. Key words:

Cultural heritage, relicts of Christianity, national and spiritual discrimination.

In life of each people the important place is taken by its original culture.

Distribution across all Armenian Highlands of identical forms of economic activity, customs and beliefs and also uniform mentality of its inhabitants became a basis of the fact that Karabakh (Artsakh), as well as in the ancient time, makes today with other areas of Armenia one indissoluble whole in the cultural, economic and linguistic relation [1. Page 22].

Ancestors of present Karabakh Armenians, despite continuous wars in the past, left rich cultural heritage. It, first of all Christianity monuments which extended in the region (as well as in general in Armenia which became as it is considered, the first country of the world which adopted Christianity as the state religion) since the 4th century A.D.

For all the history monuments of the Armenian history and culture, spiritual heritage of last generations of the Karabakh Armenians was not exposed to such barefaced plunder and destruction as it was during finding of edge as a part of the Azerbaijani SSR (1923-1991).

The purposeful policy of the authorities of AzSSR for monuments of Christian Armenian culture was carried out in the following main directions:

• concealing about them in official publications, reference books and guides;

• falsification of ethnocultural and religious affiliation;

• their conscious destruction and violation of them;

• encouragement and connivance to treasure hunting (including with use of dynamite) and to other acts of vandalism (use of temples as a shed for the cattle; dismantling of monuments on stones for needs of individual and collective-farm construction, etc.);

• alteration of the Armenian temples under Muslim constructions;

• preventing to carrying out recovery work;

• preventing to visit and studying monuments by the Soviet and foreign researchers.

Concealment of many thousands of monuments of the Armenian history and culture promoted their conscious destruction. For years of the Soviet power hundreds of churches, chapels, cemeteries were destroyed - first of all, in the Areas of Lachina-Kelbadzhara and Northern Nagorno-Karabakh. As a rule, monuments consciously collapsed, and their fragments, or the whole plates, gravestones were used as construction materials for needs of residents of the Azerbaijani and Kurdish villages [2. Page 163-164].

Azerbaijani "architects" used also the principle of "restoration" of the Armenian temples by change of its appearance. The Armenian church Surb Sar-kis in the ancient city of Gandzake (Elisavetpol, Kirovabad, Ganja) became a bright example for it. In the 1970th it was restored thus, - to it made extensions in "east" style, erased the Armenian inscriptions from walls and removed crosses, - that externally she began to resemble the Muslim mosque [2. Page 165].

Ignoring of monuments of material culture of the Armenians dated from antiquity till 19th century served one purpose - to create deceptive opinion as if till 18th century Nagorno-Karabakh was not populated with Armenians [1. Page 32].

In the territory of the region a significant amount of historical and architectural monuments remained: fortresses, monastic complexes, churches and chapels, bridges, palace constructions, hachka-ditch (gravestone crosses stones; from Armenian "khach" and "carat" - a cross and a stone) [3. Page 572]. Only on small - 4400 [4. Territories of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAR) making a little more than a third of the territory of the region in general are page 198], about 1700 monuments of such and also over 1000 units of wall and gravestone inscriptions in drevnearmyansky language remained up to now [5. Page 5].

Among these monuments a specific place is held by monasteries: the temple which remained up to now Amaras the 4th century put, given drevnear-

myansky sources, Gregory the Enlightener - the baptist of Armenia at whom in the 4th century the Christianity became the state religion in the country [3. Page 270]. In the middle of the 5th century, here, in Amaras, the creator of the Armenian writing Mesrop Mashtots [6. Page 102-103] opened the Armenia's first national school. Temple Gandzasar [3. Page 581-582], constructed in the 13th century at top of the high mountain near the village of Vank (nowadays Martakertsky Region of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), became for several centuries the residence of the Karabakh katolikosat.

At the beginning of the 19th century, after Artsakh's transition from under the power of Persia (Iran) to structure of the Russian Empire in the history of edge the period of peaceful life which proceeded till 1917 began. These years became the favorable period not only for economic development of edge, but also gave a new impulse to development of life spiritual. Across all Nagorno-Karabakh, ancient, old temples were restored, new were under construction. During this period dozens of new churches and temples are built, many of which were original also modernist architectural concepts courageous for those times. In Shusha which became the center of cultural life of edge several churches including Greek-orthodox are built at once.

Majestic church of Cristo Christ Redeemer (Surb-Amenaprkich) [3. Page 583-585] in Shushi - it is called Kazanchetsots (on behalf of a quarter in which it was - Kazanchi), constructed in 1868-1887, was a model of harmonious merge of a monumental construction to the environment. This church - the largest of all earlier constructed Armenian churches not only in Transcaucasia, but also throughout the Armenian Highlands.

By 1914. The Karabakh (Artsakhskaya) diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church had 222 operating churches and 188 priests [7. Page 19].

After inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh in structure of the Azerbaijani SSR the spiritual life of Armenian inhabitants actually got under double oppression of Bolsheviks atheists and nationalists from the management of AzSSR. Churches were closed and intentionally collapsed, priests were exposed to repressions. In the letter, to the addressed Catholicos of all Armenians Horen Muradbekyan, the last leader of the Artsakhsky diocese bishop Vrtanes reported about the reduced number of the operating churches in Artsakh, reduction of number of clergymen. In 1931 in the region remained 112 operating churches and 18 monasteries, priests and monks - 276. After this letter the bishop was arrested and banished, as well as many other attendants of a cult [8]. After 1932 all Armenian churches and monasteries ido in Nagorno-Karabakh were closed 1989 in the region there was no operating temple [1. Page 32].

Situation did not change after the Great Patriotic War when I.V. Stalin suspended anti-church repressions and made nekoto-

ry eases for the believing citizens, after relative liberalization of the Soviet mode in the period of post-Stalin "thaw" of the 1960th

The Catholicos of all Armenians Vazgen I (held this post from 1955 to 1994) repeatedly appealed to the government of the Azerbaijani SSR to open in Nagorno-Karabakh at least one temple, but was always refused [8].

Thereby, national discrimination to which the indigenous Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh for all years of the Soviet power was exposed, was followed also by rough discrimination in the field of spiritual life.

In the territory of former AzSSR the monuments of the Armenian culture made absolute majority among monuments of all cultures of the people of the republic which both disappeared, and well - about 11000 [9] but, in the list of the protected historical and cultural monuments which are subject to the state protection which was approved by Resolution No. 140 of April 2, 1968. Council of ministers of AzSSR, 591 monuments 25 Armenian were among everything. Only from the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAR) and without indication of ethnic origin [10. Page 3-4].

In "the Atlas of the Azerbaijani SSR" in one of sections there was no monument of the Armenian old times. They were not registered at all, did not stand under protection of the state and for decades of existence of the Soviet power restorations were not exposed [11. Page 206-207]. Whereas many monuments of Baku and its suburbs, other cities and areas were restored, surrounded with attention and leaving [12. Page 179].

19 monuments are listed in the list of the Azerbaijani monuments of Shushi published in the Baku newspaper "Zerkalo" in 2001: houses, mosques and two caravanserais. From them practically all - the second half of the 19th century. Only one of houses is stated by a monument of the 18th century [13].

Concealment of many thousands of monuments of the Armenian history promoted their conscious destruction. For years of the Soviet power hundreds of churches, chapels, cemeteries were destroyed - first of all, in the Areas of Lachina-Kelbadzhara and Northern Nagorno-Karabakh. Monuments consciously collapsed, and their fragments, or the whole plates, gravestones were used as construction materials for needs of residents of the Azerbaijani and Kurdish villages.

The mass character was accepted by plunder, destruction and defilement of temples during search of the valid and imaginary treasures. At the same time explosive was used.

One of examples of violation of Christian cult constructions took place in Fizulinsky district of the Azerbaijani SSR, adjacent to NKAO, in the early seventies. Near the Azerbaijani regional center of Fizuli during earthwork the Armenian church which was plundered in the beginning, and then zakopa-was found

on. Over it the artificial hill at which top set up the inscription "Glory of the CPSU!" [14] was filled.

The Armenian intellectuals acting through scientists and culture repeatedly appealed to the leaders of the Azerbaijani SSR to pay attention to historical and cultural monuments of the Armenian people in the territory of the Azerbaijani SSR, their deplorable condition and refusal of the authorities of their restoration.

In this regard it is known that Martiros Saryan, the national artist of the USSR, the winner of the Lenin award and Hera of Socialist Work also addressed with the letter the First secretary of the Central Committee of the RC of Azerbaijan G.A. Aliyev where, in particular, it was reported: "In Nagorno-Karabakh, in Nakhchivan the ASSR, in the Shaumyansky rural area and in the neighboring territories, numerous monuments - the architectural masterpieces which played a big role in the fate of the Armenian people are available.... Unfortunately, still nothing or almost was undertaken nothing to keep our monuments" [15. L. 53-55]. G. Aliyev, having received the letter of the world famous artist, left it without answer [12. Page 179].

Thus, the rich cultural heritage received by the Karabakh Armenians from the ancestors remained and developed, despite counteraction of the authorities of the Soviet Azerbaijan.

Years of rise of the national liberation movement (1988-1990), Armenian-Azerbaijani (Artsakhskaya) war of 1991-1994, fight for independence [16. L. 63-64] and establishment of the state sovereignty [17. Page 88-89] of Nagorno-Karabakh were especially heavy, full of difficulties and deprivations. They left the, special mark on cultural development of edge.

The Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Council of ministers of the USSR "About measures for acceleration of social and economic development of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988-1995", accepted on March 24, 1988 [18] contained point concerning cultural heritage of Karabakh (Artsakh). In the Resolution, in particular, it was noted: "To develop and carry out a complex of actions for further work on restoration and restoration of the historical and cultural monuments which are in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, meaning to involve in these works of the Armenian specialists master in restoration" [18. Paragraph 3].

On the basis of this paragraph of the Resolution in Head department on protection and use of historical and cultural monuments at Council of ministers of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic work on specification of lists of monuments of the Armenian architecture in Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan was developed. It was planned to carry out in 1988-1995 restoration, restoration and preservation about 100 historical and cultural monuments of Artsakh.

Such solution of a question meant official recognition of the fact that Christian temples in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh have the Armenian origin. It contradicted the official policy of Baku declaring in the far-reaching purposes "prishlost" of Armenians in the region and offered the real prospect of revival of spiritual life of the Karabakh Armenians that was unacceptable for the leaders of the Azerbaijani SSR.

Therefore these offers met flat refusal from the Ministry of Culture of AzSSR. In the official reply of the ministry to proposals of the Armenian experts it was said: "The offer on creation of a complex expedition for studying the historical and cultural monuments which are in the territory of NKAO AZSSR, in our opinion, contradicts the provision on accessory the federal republic of all monuments which are in its territory irrespective of their national identity, and in the conditions of the developed international relations in the region now, will not promote stabilization of a situation" [9]. After adoption of the Resolution of March 24, 1988, in the Ministry of Culture of AzSSR, work on falsification of accessory of monuments of Artsakh was developed.

During the Armenian-Azerbaijani (Artsakh-skaya) war of 1991-1994 temples and other monuments of architecture in the border settlements of Askeranskogo, Gadrutsko-go and Martuninskogo of regions of NKR which were exposed to firings of the Azerbaijani artillery, air raids strongly were damaged. Some of these villages appeared in a zone of fights, temporarily were under the Azerbaijani occupation which was followed by destruction of buildings, cult constructions, defilement of cemeteries.

During fighting the Azerbaijani troops regularly subjected to rocket and bombing and artillery attacks of the city and village of edge; blows were purposefully struck also to temples. In the summer of 1992 500-kilogram bombs from warplanes the temple Gandza-sar underwent bombing, - a number of structures of the temple complex was destroyed, by chance the temple was not damaged [2. Page 180].

It is impossible to count precisely the extent of damage which was suffered by material monuments of Christian Armenian culture of Karabakh during the Armenian-Azerbaijani (Artsakhskaya) war. Shaumyansky district completely, and Martakertsky and Martuninsky districts of NKR - are partially occupied by troops of Azerbaijan. It is known that these losses are huge and are in many respects irreplaceable.

These years of mass riots and deportations full of tragic element, the Armenian people in Nagorno-Karabakh did not lose the national originality and were not dissolved in the large territory of cultural space. He, once again, survived, and kept huge layer of the cultural values which are saved up for many centuries them by heroic ancestors for the descendants.

In the territory controlled by the authorities of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, spiritual life revives everywhere. By forces of the population, with assistance of the authorities of NKR, the help of charity organizations of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian diaspora and some international organizations, earlier selected and abandoned temples are restored and open.

In NKR the diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church headed by the archbishop Pargevom Martirosyanom Artsakhskaya works [3. Page 507]. In Shushi at the diocesan center, special educational institutions are open for children. Priests go to the opening churches. Near a monastic complex of the temple Gandzasar construction of seminary is finished. A considerable merit in it the foreign religious organizations and associations. In temples and churches it is possible to see more and more people, especially in days of Holidays.

Important that in the historical territories of Artsakh occupied during military operations, earlier


1. NKR: a way to tops / under the editorship of N.R. Melkumyan. - Stepanakert: NKR MFA publishing house, 2001. - 248 pages
2. Me lik-Shakhnazarov A.A. Nagorno-Karabakh: the facts against a lie. Information and ideological aspects of the mountain and Karabakh conflict. - M.: Magic lamp, 2009. - 768 pages
3. S.T. Sargsyan. Encyclopedia of Artsakh-Karabakh. the 2nd prod., ispr. and additional - SPb.: Petropolis publishing house, 2007. - 626 pages
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6. Abegyan M. Mesrop Mashtots//Big Soviet Encyclopedia. - M.: Soviet encyclopedia. - 1974. - T. 16.
7. Nagorno-Karabakh is the historical information. - Yerevan: AN publishing house of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. - 1988. - 94 pages
8. Artsakh's bells. Conversation with the bishop Artsakhsky Pargev Martirosyan//Communist. - 1990. - March 30.
9. L. Barsegyan, A. Grigoryan. The relation to the past - pledge of the future//the Communist. - 1989. - On Oct. 7
10. A. Ter-Arutyunyan. But they will be in time//the Armenian messenger not much. - 1991. - No. 3 (17). - Feb.
11. The atlas of the Azerbaijani SSR / the Major historical and architectural monuments to antiquity and the Middle Ages / under the editorship of I.K. Abdullaev and K.K. Paul. - The m is Baku: Factory No. 2 GUGK, 1963. - 213 pages

almost inaccessible for the Armenian researchers, - first of all in the Lachino-Kelbadzharsky region - hundreds of monuments of the Armenian Christian culture are revealed, registered.

The famous researcher of monuments of the Armenian architecture S. Karapetyan during the long-term field researches (1970-1980th) in it and other regions of Nagorno-Karabakh carried out measurements, inventories and photography of these monuments. As a result of this laborious work at the expense of the international Organization for studying the Armenian architecture, special work in the English, Armenian and Russian languages was published [19].

Today the system of culture of the Mountain and Karabakh Republic covers the state drama theater, the state ensembles, libraries, recreation centers, the Palace of Youth, clubs, the museums, art galleries, music schools, school of arts and historical and architectural monuments [1. Page 32].

12. Karabakh express. - 2006. - No. 2-3 (6-7). - Apr. - Sep.
13. F. Fatulla. The inheritance of Turkic peoples is in service at Armenians//the Mirror. - 2001. - On Sep. 7
14. R. Atayan. Buried... church//Sovetakan Ayastan (Yerevan). - 1988. - June 14.
15. Martiros Saryan's letter to Heydar Aliyevu/AAOOVIAP (Arkh. The Armenian society on protection and restoration of isto-riko-architectural monuments). T. 892. Op. 1. 461.
16. Declaration on declaration of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on Sep. 2, 1991 NKR g/HECTARE (State. arkh. Nagorno-Karabakh Republic). T. 1. Op. 2. 309. St. 28.
17. The declaration on the state independence of the Mountain and Karabakh Republic on Jan. 6, 1992 / the Status of Nagorno-Karabakh in political and legal documents and materials//Library of the center of the Russian-Armenian initiatives. - Yerevan, 1995.-100 pages
18. The resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Council of ministers of the USSR "About measures for acceleration of social and economic development of the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region of the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988-1995" of March 24, 1988//News. - 1988. March-25.
19. S. Karapetyan. Monuments of the Armenian culture in a zone of Nagorno-Karabakh. - Yerevan: Gitutyun, 2000. - 240 pages

Arrived 17.11.2010

Theodore Esmond
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