Sourp Komidas Vartabed


" To My Dear Sister Marig
In Remembrance From Your Brother
Komidas Vartabed "
Documented by Zmroukht (Karakashian) Tashjian
Prepared by Sebouh.Z.Tashjian 1995


I am publishing this story specifically for relatives and members of our dynasty, who are scattered all over the world, and the Armenian people in general, the family ties and the relationship of Komidas Vartabed with the Karakashian family, who migrated from Kotahia to Jerusalem in 1922.

Hagop and Marig Karakashian and their three children were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Today their grandchildren, of whom I am one, are well aware of their family history, but not as much in detail that of my mother's version, Zmroukht (Karakashian) Tashjian, based on documented facts. Her childhood memories of Komidas Vartabed were very dear. She remembered how he told her stories in their front garden, and how he wrote musical notes in his room and sang etc. She always said, "His voice is still in my ears."

Marig's great grandchildren are presently living in Jerusalem, Amman, New Jersey and Sydney. Believe it or not, some of them were stunned with disbelief when they looked at the photo card sent by Komidas Vartabed to his sister Marig, their great grandmother.This moved me so much that I adamantly determined to publish my mother's documents, which were originally written in response to the article published in the Nairi newspaper in 1980.

The first phase of Marig's life with her children was in Amman Jordan. Other survivors of the Armenian Genocide were the Peltekian family. The good mother of this family, Tshkoun, a very intelligent and kind hearted woman, was a close friend of Marig and her door to door neighbour. She described Marig as "a Hanem lady charming and of a calm and superb temper, who was a close relative to a great music writer, a priest from Kotahia. She did whatever she could, when approached, to resolve family matters within their small Armenian community."

Marig later lived in Jerusalem with her son Garabed -my uncle- and his wife Kayaneh and their children. Her daughter Zmroukht, my mother, married Zareh Hampartsoum Tashjian from Gurun and later moved from Amman to Jerusalem and lived in the same courtyard and almost adjacent to my uncle Karabed's house. My uncle, Mkrdich Hagop Karakashian and his family lived near Mandelbaum Gate, close to their well established ceramic workshop. We were one big family always close together. I remember Marig very well. She died in 1942 when I was seven years of age.

                                            My mother Zmroukht (Karakashian) Tashjian in Jerusalem
                                            Her brother Mkrdich standing at the back
                                            Source : National Geographic Magazine - USA, 1927
Going back in time to the Kotahia days, and according to what my mother always said, "I would like to assert that Soghomon (Komidas) was devastated and in shock by his father's (Haroutiun's) sudden death, hence the reason for his grief and sadness for some time afterwards."

Today, and with deep respect to our poets and writers who as my mother kept saying, have mistakenly and very freely showed a negative attitude towards Komidas Vartabed's childhood, I would like to take this opportunity to say that unfortunately they have misrepresented him in their poems and articles as if he had no family members at all. This false attitude depicting him as a miserable homeless and abandoned child, was only meant to no other reason but to add flavour to their works. No offence is meant to anybody, but as my mother put it," it is high time those distorted stories of the past be corrected."

The audio cassette with my mother's voice of the part"My Mother's Response" and due to the public interest, was twice transmitted from Radio Yerevan in 1992 by the well known actor/producer Mr. Sarkis Najarian.

I believe it is extremely important that the close and distant members of this great family, the Karakashians, be informed of all the facts. Hopefully, by publishing this article, I have gone a step forward towards achieving that.

My deepest gratitude to my dear godmother Kayaneh Karakashian, her sons (my cousins) Haroutiun Nubar & Vicken and their families, whose efforts were great to have provided me, prints from Komidas Vartabed's original photo card and Marig's photo.

I owe this story to my mother, Zmroukht (Karakashian) Tashjian, without whom this true version of Komidas Vartabed's life, and the relationship with the Karakashian family, would have been impossible to write.

Sebouh Zareh Tashjian
Sydney-Australia, 1995

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