Kharpert: The Golden Plain of the Armenian Plateau

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Karanian

The fortress of Kharpert is perched atop an empty hillside. This
hillside had been the Armenian Quarter of Kharpert until 1915. Photo (c)
2014 Matthew Karanian, Reprinted with Permission.


Kharpert is the Voski Dasht, the Golden Plain, of the Armenian Plateau.

This area, which is the site of historic Armenian settlement of Tsopk,
and which is known in today's Turkey as Harpoot, is also one of the
oldest areas of Armenian habitation. Some scholars believe that
Kharpert may even be the cradle of the Armenian nation.

Whether the Armenian nation originated here, or farther east in
Bitlis, or Van, or elsewhere, however, there is no dispute that
Armenian Kharpert holds one of the keys to understanding the origins
of the Armenian people.

In centuries past, Kharpert's fields of grain helped the region to
earn its designation as the Golden Plain. By 1915, however, Kharpert
had earned a new moniker: "the Slaughterhouse Province." An American
diplomat who lived in Kharpert from 1914 to 1917 bestowed the name
upon the region. He selected the name after observing the fate of the
deported Armenians who had been herded to Kharpert from their homes in
other parts of the Armenian Plateau.

During the century before its demise in 1915, Armenian Kharpert had
developed into a significant center for missionaries from the US, and
for American-sponsored schools.

The exposure of Kharpertsi Armenians (Armenians from Kharpert) to
these US institutions in the late 1800s helped to inspire them to
adopt Western ways, and to travel to the US--sometimes as immigrants,
and sometimes as sojourners or pandukhts, laborers who intended to
work in the US, save their earnings, and then return to Kharpert to
help their families.

Just prior to 1915, the top American diplomat in Kharpert had
estimated that roughly 80 percent of the Armenians who immigrated to
the United States had come from Kharpert. These travelers formed some
of the earliest Armenian communities in the United States, in the
factory and mill towns of southern New England. Many settled in places
such as Worcester, Massachusetts, which was the site in 1891 of the
first Armenian church in the US.

Among Diaspora Armenians living in North America today, the Kharpertsi
are believed to be among the most numerous. And for most of the
twentieth century, say some, the Armenians of Kharpert were the
quintessential Armenian Americans.

Adapted from 'Historic Armenia After 100 Years,' (Stone Garden Press,
$39.95, Pub. Feb. 2015) by Matthew Karanian. Pre-order now for $35
postpaid in the US from: Stone Garden Productions; PO Box 7758;
Northridge, CA 91327 or pay with credit card by requesting an invoice
from [email protected]

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress