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Notes About Yerevan in the 19th Century

Notes About Yerevan in the 19th Century

A collection of materials describing the localities and tribes of the Caucasus.

Essays on Armenians and Armenia: the town of Erivan, the Publication N1, 1881


Historical Data 

The Armenians pronounce the word “Erivan” as “Yerevan”, which literally means to be visible, seem. Under the legend, the word origin is connected with Noah. When Noah considers the area from the top of the mountain Ararat, the first thing he notices are the northern and northeastern heights of Erivan. When he sees them, he says: “it is visible” (երևում է) (the land is visible).

The Appearance of Erivan

Persians were using a particular proverb in regard to Erivan, which was “Erivan is a happy hole” while Nicholas First  when being in Erivan in 1837, called the town “a clay pot”. The Persians were mistaken to call it happy, while Nicholas First correctly  described in two words the appearance of Erivan: if you consider the location and the buildings of the town, then its name is still appropriate as from the Qanaqer flat height Erivan seems to be somewhat rounded basin with scattered houses mostly made of clay and with flat roofs. However, the former sad form of a purely Persian town has now changed somewhat: now several new streets are built with two or three story stone houses, which, together with glazed domes of Russian cathedrals and Tatar mosques bring variety into the gray mass of other buildings.  As far as Erivan is bearable from the outside, it is just as unattractive from the inside: with the exception of several streets, the town consists of narrow alleys, which are always covered by mud and dust of several inches of thickness. On a windy day the dust fills the air so that it obscures the rays of the sun, while on a rainy day it turns into an unprecedented mud.

The painting of European graphist and cartographer Johann Baptist Homann (1663-1724) — "Erivan, The Main City of Armenia" 

The Education

According to the aspiration to get educated, the people of Erivan can be divided into two groups: the Armenians, who do manifest their aspiration to get educated and the Tatars (modern Azerbaijanis), who, with several exceptions, think that the education is not necessary for them and that is largely due to their religious peculiarities. The life of the Tatars, who are not distinguished by strong moral principles, undoubtedly has a very harmful effect on the initial education of Tatar children. Their family lives are mostly dominated by perpetual squabbles, quarrels, women’s intrigues: mothers, sisters and other women walk almost naked in the house, dance amoral dances, swear all the time and sleep in the same room and the children from an early age become witnesses to that.   The education of the Tatars, all in all,  is in the unconscious reading of the Koran. As for the Muslim women, her home education is limited to the ability to cunning, flirt and to be loved by her future husband, because only by this she can ensure her future existence.

Armenians both in  home and in school education of the younger generation are much higher than Muslims: first of all the Armenian tries to teach his children prayers , reading and writing in his native language, and then gives them to study in a public school. However, after the child has already started to go to college, the parents give up all care about him; but still by giving their children to school they at least do not stop caring about the educational institution where their children are studying and are trying their best to open new schools. Whether these schools are effective, that is another matter; nevertheless,  in almost all the villages you will see an Armenian school where pupils learn  two languages. Those schools are basically financed by  donations and ecclesiastical incomes.

The teacher of the elementary school in the Erivan grammar school, Stepan Pavel Zelinski 


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