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Jewelers Attracted to Mysterious and Ancient Obsidian
PARIS — Ever in search of innovative new materials and gems, some contemporary jewelers and designers have recently been looking backward rather than forward.
The focus of their attention is ancient obsidian, a volcanic glass formed as an igneous rock. This natural glass, in fiery shades of brown, black or blood red, resulted from flowing volcanic lava millions of years ago.
Darkly transparent in its most prized variety, with infinitely sharp edges, obsidian served prehistoric man as a cutting blade in battle and is today used for surgical instruments, but it has long been used to make decorative objects as well.
Because of the size of the blocks from which it is extracted, its varying degrees of homogeneity and its rarity, obsidian is best used for jewelry and other small objects.
Some even swear by its healing properties, claiming it can calm phobias, stop convulsions, clarify the soul and bring good luck.
“I was unfamiliar with the obsidian until I made a trip a few years ago to Armenia,” said Thierry Vendome, a jewelry designer in the Marais quarter of Paris whose collection of obsidian jewelry titled “Armenia” was born of that trip.
“I discovered miles of black hillside covered with broken chunks of obsidian,” he said.
“When nature makes glass, it is fragile and brittle,” Mr. Vendome added. “I decided to integrate the breakages in my jewelry to capture the very force of this stone.”
The result is a highly graphic and boldly sophisticated collection that combines the crudely sharp edges of the stone with the polished richness of gold, pearls and other traditional precious materials.
Though obsidian is found in rock formations in volcanic areas of Mexico, Italy, Japan and the United States, the purest sort comes from Armenia. Varieties from other regions often include imperfections, making them unsuitable for the luxury market.
According to Mr. Vendome, contrary to the legend that surrounds the stone, Armenian obsidian is not commonly found on the slopes of Mount Ararat, the Biblical landing site of Noah’s Ark, but in an area between Yerevan, the capital city, and Lake Sevan, perched 1,905 meters, or 6,250 feet, above sea level in central Armenia.
The hillside is lined for miles with broken bits of obsidian, a glass-sharp and bleak landscape that stretches along the road Mr. Vendome traveled to handpick the pieces he used in his designs.
“Obsidian is not a vulgar pebble,” Mr. Vendome said. “Its natural brilliance and texture give it a mysterious and magical allure.”
The color of the stone also makes for a perfect background against which Umane, a duo of female designers based in Paris, have set white diamonds and colored stones in the contemporary assemblage of shapes and materials of their organically inspired “Gallet,” or “Pebble,” collection.
“The obsidian has a particular texture which gives off naturally smooth reflections under the light,” said Valérie Brun, one of Umane’s designers.
“There are many shades of obsidian,” she said. “We prefer the dark gray variety with silver reflections.”
The Paris-based jewelry and furniture designer Hervé van der Straeten has also introduced obsidian in his jewelry line this year, marrying the geometric lines of his signature gold collection with chunks of darkly transparent obsidian.
A single trip to Armenia is probably not enough to solve all the mysteries surrounding the stone.
“The best guarded secret in Armenia is the site of the blue obsidian,” Mr. Vendome said. “No one knows where that variety is found.”
Eight years ago, Michel der Agobian, a third-generation Armenian, was equally mesmerized by a variety of obsidian he found on a trip to Armenia that is highly transparent when cut into thin slabs.
“Transparency in the obsidian is unique to Armenia,” said Mr. der Agobian, who, on that fateful trip, also discovered an ancestral stone-cutting, or lapidary, technique that, despite being dormant under years of Soviet domination of Armenia, had remained intact.
“The stone was being used by Armenian artisans mainly to make souvenirs for tourists,” Mr. der Agobian said. “Their outstanding know-how was treated as superfluous by the Soviets, but it survived. It is so exceptional today that de Beers and other diamond cutters from Israel and Antwerp have opened workshops there.”
Today, having formed a partnership with a local workshop, Mr. der Agobian trades jewelry and objects crafted in Armenia through Cub-Ar, his design and distribution company.
“Armenian cutting techniques are flawless,” he said. “We brought to the table what was missing, a rigorous method, the discipline to execute from complex drawings and a respect for delivery times.”
Today, Mr. der Agobian is instrumental in opening a new chapter in the long and winding history of this ancient stone, with an exhibition at the Paris-based art gallery Pierre Alain Challier that explores the aesthetic possibilities of obsidian.
For the show, curated by Jean-Baptiste Sibertin-Blanc, artistic director of the luxury crystal brand Daum, 13 contemporary designers were asked to design obsidian-made objects, all of which were handcrafted at Mr. der Agobian’s workshops in Armenia.
“This exercise looks to capture the essence of the stone,” Mr. Sibertin-Blanc said. “Often, by taking very little away, that essence comes through most visibly.”
The Controversy Surrounding the Site
There are two main groups researching the Zorats Karer site - Bnorran Historic-Cultural NGO and the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography – and they have very different views on the purpose of the site. As Bnorran board member Arevik Sargsyan told Armenpress:
“We think Carahunge, where more than 200 stones are located, with 80 having holes in them, is an ancient astronomical observatory, which was studied by Paris Herouni, with other experts having made similar opinions before that. According to another opinion, Carahunge isn’t an astronomical observatory. It is simply an ancient site, a settlement, which has a status of a mausoleum.”
Although they differ on their views, the two groups are reported to have co-signed an agreement to work together to solve the enigmatic site’s mysteries. They’ve agreed to suspend their individual work until after a joint research plan has been decided upon by a team of astronomers, archaeoastronomers, archaeologists, ethnographers, naturalists, and other experts.
Ancient Jewelry - Early History of Jewelry
Ever since the dawn of time, people of all cultures strived to showcase themselves with jewelry that signified their status, social or official rank, religious or political affiliation and of course for personal adornment. Even as far as Stone Age, our ancestors find a way to create many types of jewels made from organic and inorganic materials such as hair, feathers, leather, bones, wood, shells, minerals and later precious metals and gemstones. Their ingenuity grew with each passing age, and advancements in technology and gathering of available resources enabled creation of some of the most iconic and beautiful jewelry designs. Today we look back at those ancient times and remember them not only for their accomplishments, but as a moment when entire industry of metallurgy and gemstone processing became formed and the lesions they learned became basis of many modern processes.
First pieces of jewelry started being made during the same time when our African ancestors started differentiating themselves by wearing clothes and creating tools. Simple decorative pieces made from animal skins and hairs did not survive the tooth of time, but the oldest surviving prehistoric piece of jewelry (decorative sea shells) from over 110.000 years ago give solid proof that modern human race used jewelry even before they exited Africa and spread across entire world.
Even though many civilizations produced their own versions of simple decorative items during those prehistoric times, sudden rise of technology in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia proved to be instrumental moment in which jewelry finally started gaining shape of modern items that are in use today. Ability to forge bronze and copper some 7 thousand years ago into many shapes finally enabled the creation of highly detailed jewelry that carried designs of animals, something that could never be done before. Arrival of the gold few thousand years later introduced even more varied designs, and Egyptians quickly used softness of gold to create some timeless pieces of jewelry that were saved to this day in deeply buried Pharaoh burial chambers.
Innovations that were introduced by Egyptian and Mesopotamian metalworkers soon spread across the world, and many other civilizations improved upon their foundations. In the far east, metalworkers of resource rich India started producing incredible jewelry designs made from precious metals and gems over 5000 years ago, which later on influenced spreading of jewelry in China around 2000 years ago.
Why A Modern Cosmetics Company Is Mining Armenia’s Ancient Manuscripts
There is something remarkable about the communities that line the former Silk Road. Bound together by a shared natural environment, there is a reservoir of knowledge here, safeguarded and passed down from one generation to the next.
In some parts of the world, you can live and die without knowing what’s growing in your backyard. But in Armenia, there are just some things about the land and the seemingly infinite resources growing on it that everybody—no matter how deeply into cosmopolitanism centers you venture—just knows. Got a stomachache? Drink some tea infused with wild mountain thyme. Slow metabolism? Sautee up some wild sorrel. Sore throat? A shot of homemade Armenian moonshine will do it.
In Armenia, folk remedies aren’t just offhand suggestions from your grandmother. When it comes to minor illnesses, trained doctors are not shy about recommending them either. And you can find all kinds of packaged herbs and natural oils in Armenian pharmacies, sitting inconspicuously on shelves next to conventional pharmaceuticals.
The truth is, what we today call conventional medicine—the kind of healthcare you get from a Western physician—hasn’t been conventional for all that long. Before engineered biomedicines targeting specific symptoms took the helm, most forms of medicine—not just those used by traditional healers—were rooted in natural materials. As such, there have always been intersections between the world of the folk and that of the physician.
By nature of their proximity, villagers in the Armenian countryside are knowledgeable about indigenous plants and herbs.
Historian Stella Vardanyan notes this interaction in her book The History of Medicine in Armenia. According to her research, folk medicine in Armenia dates back nearly three millennia. The herbs of the Armenian highland were especially well-reputed among ancient writers, like the Greek physician Galen or the famed Islamic philosopher Ibn Sina, who wrote on the healing properties of Armenia’s clay in his treatise The Canon of Medicine: “Armenian or Ani clay has a remarkable influence on wounds. It is especially beneficial against tuberculosis and the plague. Many people were saved during great epidemics, since they were in the habit of drinking it in wine diluted with water.”
After the adoption of Christianity in 301 CE, Armenian monks and scholars wrote prodigiously on topics like anatomy, pharmacology, phytotherapy and botany, all critical to the development of medicine in the region. Mountaintop monasteries isolated and elevated from the threat of invasion were ideal locations for scientific study that yielded some of the world’s most brilliant and painstakingly detailed manuscripts. Many of these texts did not survive, but those that did are today housed in the Matenadaran Museum of Ancient Armenian Manuscripts.
The most useful remaining books on pharmacology date from the medieval period. In the twelfth century, the father of Armenian medicine, Mkhitar Heratsi, authored his pivotal book on fevers, in which he traversed marsh-ridden countryside to study malaria, fusing folk medicine of the time with the medical advances of the scholarly and monastic world. Later in the fifteenth century, Amirdovlat Amasiatsi wrote Useless for the Ignorant, a famous encyclopedia of 3,500 Armenian plants and herbs that he translated into five languages: Persian, Arabic, Latin, Greek and Armenian, to ensure its use by laymen and professionals alike.
Amasiatsi’s incredibly rich text advises on the uses of native Armenian plants in such depth that his writings continue to influence modern pharmacists, like Armen Sahakyan, a pharmacologist and botanical scholar who has been working at the Matenadaran Museum for the last several decades. A trained medical doctor ordained a deacon in 1997, Sahakyan has dedicated his life to the maintenance of Armenia’s sacred botanical traditions.
Sahakyan’s private collection of botanical illustrations and pigments on display at the Matenadaran. (Photo by Karine Vann Smithsonian).
Since 1993, Sahakyan has collected ingredients from recipes in old manuscripts, like those of Heratsi’s and Amasiatsi’s, and recreated them for modern use. In 2004, he began selling the resulting products at the Matenadaran gift shop, from lotion and ointments to tea blends. Sahakyan is encouraged by the renewed interest in herbalism and natural healing that he sees in both tourists and locals who visit Matenadaran. He feels that the country is finally beginning to rediscover its heritage following seventy years of Soviet intervention.
“It wasn’t just a doctor-patient relationship with medicine being simply handed over,” he says. “There was a whole worldview about how serious diseases were considered the outcomes of sinfulness. To be cut off from those roots during the times of the Soviet Union resulted only in regress for the people.”
Sahakyan reveres recipes as they were written by medieval heroes of Armenian medicine, and deviates little when recreating them.
“I always say that, for every prescription we have discovered, a whole institute, a whole school of medicine could be established,” he recalls proudly. Most recently, he has embarked on a new treatment for psoriasis developed using these old formulae.
Sahakyan’s efforts are contrasted by those of Nairian, a company founded in 2014 to produce all-natural skincare out of essential oils made from Armenia’s indigenous herbs and plants. While Sahakyan has concerns about the “regression” of traditional healing under the Soviet Union, Nairian co-founders Anahit and Ara Markosian, a physicist and mathematician respectively, believe there is much to be gained by reconciling these two critical periods of Armenia’s history. Rather than eschew Soviet developments in medicine and pharmacology, they embrace them.
Anahit Markosian, a trained physicist, is head of research and development at Nairian, Armenias first all-natural skincare company, whose ingredients are made from the plants and herbs harvested in the Armenian highlands. (Photo courtesy of Nairian)
“We don’t actually recreate any original recipes from the ancient manuscripts, but instead we create our own,” says Anahit Markosian, who leads Nairian’s research and development.
Markosian says that while she is inspired by the holistic philosophy of the famous medieval Armenian doctors and their deep knowledge of plants and minerals, the company is committed to creating recipes that are in harmony with modern cosmetic trends. Nairian’s use of rose oil in a number of its products offers one example.
“The physician Amirdovlat Amasiatsi had much to say on the power of rose oil,” says Markosian. “He recognized early on its ‘cooling and drying’ effects, which he used to treat cases of inflammation and ‘hotness,’ as he described it.”
Modern science exists to back up Amasiatsi’s claims and also hint to rose oil’s capacity to boost skin cell regeneration, “which is why many of our products contain rose oil or water distillate as an ingredient.”
Today, Rosa damascena, or Damask rose as it is more commonly known, is one of Nairian’s most valuable crops on their farm. To obtain just one quart of this precious oil, they must distill five tons of petals.
Nairian’s facilities, which consist of an eco-farm and a laboratory made from a renovated Soviet sewing factory (they’ve kept the old Singer sewing machines for decorative value) are based out of Aragyugh, a village about forty minutes outside of the capital, Yerevan. Their location is ideal, says lead botanist Lusine Nalbandyan, because Armenia has an exceptionally rich variety of endemic plants: there more than 3,500 plants native to the country.
(Photo courtesy of Nairian)
“It’s safe to say Armenia plays an important role in global agro-biodiversity,” Nalbandyan says. More than sixty percent of these plants can be found on the mountainsides bordering the village.
There is a village saying in Armenia: nature is very smart, since it has a remedy for every pain. As Armenia modernizes, efforts by Nairian and Sahakyan are important in rejuvenating awareness of herbs and plants as a healing agent in the face of inexpensive, synthetic and often harmful cosmetics and drugs that are quickly populating the market. By continuing the tradition of natural healing in the region—whether by grandmothers or by pharmacists—Armenians in the twenty-first century are ensuring that it, like the land itself, is here to stay.
Uses for Crystals & Stones throughout History
Throughout human history, crystals and stones have figured quite prominently in the various traditional practices of many ancient civilizations. The most common uses for crystals are:
Crystals were used regularly for physical and spiritual protection in ancient Egypt. Ancient Greek warriors would grind up crystals to rub onto themselves prior to battle. They believed that they will become stronger, more powerful and thus less vulnerable. The ancient Chinese believed that jade protected them from bad luck.
- absorbing and removing negative energies from the body
- pushing energy into the body, mind or spirit via resonant frequencies
- balancing misaligned energies to produce harmony
For centuries in the Hindu culture, crystals have been regarded as “energy amplifiers” that can improve a person’s energy balance and his ability to connect (spiritually) with nature.
Do You Have to Wear A Wedding Ring These Days?
Throughout history the wedding ring was mandatory in many cultures, especially for women, as it signified that marital status of the person and marked them as ‘off the marriage market’.
Today, wearing a wedding ring is a choice. Unless your part of a religion where wearing a ring is mandatory, you and your partner can choose whether or not you want to wear a wedding ring. There are no hard and fast rules about this. And if you decide not to wear one, no drama. That’s totally up to you.
Having said that, the majority of couples getting married choose to wear wedding rings, paying homage to an ancient tradition.
Blog about Armenia
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Top 7 Mountain Lakes of Armenia
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Top 5 waterfalls of Armenia
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Trekking in the mountains of Armenia
Summer in Armenia
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Strange Armenian Phrases
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Mysteries of Astghashen
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Robert Bedrosian Marries High Tech With Ancient Armenian Manuscripts
NEW YORK — Robert Gregory Bedrosian worked for some two decades as a computer programmer in Manhattan, making good money in the heyday of this profession.
He also has created one of the most important English-language websites on Armenian history — an Internet site containing a large number of translations of Classical Armenian authors, as well as some original studies and commentaries by himself and other contemporary scholars. What led Bedrosian to live a double life, and what is this website all about?
Bedrosian was born in Long Branch, NJ in 1949, and grew up in the Boston area. His father’s family was made up of Genocide survivors who lost all they had in Cilicia and came to the United States in poverty. Naturally, this affected their offspring. As Bedrosian described it for this article: “All the time my father was raising me I heard about the Genocide. Every holiday when his siblings came to dinner, the Genocide was seated at the table. I remember them crying and shouting and generally going crazy. This wasn’t a
one-time scenario. It went on from earliest childhood until my father, aunt and uncles died. He [Bedrosian’s father] was greatly interested in justice for the Armenians and he was always pointing out events from Armenian history.”
Western Armenian was Bedrosian’s first language. His parents deliberately and consciously spoke it at home. Bedrosian reminisced: “I can remember when I started kindergarten, the teacher complained to my mother that I was mixing ‘strange’ words in my conversation. While in grammar school, I was sent to Armenian school on Saturdays — for years.”
Eventually, when he became 11 or so, like many other children placed in this type of demanding position, he rebelled and did not want to have anything to do with Armenia, the Armenian language or Armenians.
However, when Bedrosian was in junior high school and taking Latin, he encountered many references to Armenia and the Armenians in the texts he was reading. Evidently, this stimulated new interest in the Armenians, but there was little in English that he could find except for two general histories by Jacques de Morgan and Vahan Kurkjian. “I gobbled them up,” Bedrosian exclaimed.
This was the era of the foundation of the first chairs in Armenian Studies, with the first one established at Harvard in Cambridge, the next town over to Belmont, Mass., where the Bedrosian family then lived. Bedrosian’s father played “a minor part in these matters, through the organization National Association for Armenian Studies and Research.”
Furthermore, there was a large vibrant Armenian community in neighboring
Watertown with all kinds of activities.
Bedrosian notes, “We participated ‘as a family,’ if I can put it that way. Anyhow, one thing led to another. Maybe my father was steering me toward Armenian Studies. I can remember him saying many, many times: ‘Wouldn’t you like to study the history of your own people?’”
By the time Bedrosian graduated high school and began his studies at Tufts
University, he had made this goal his own. There was some truth to the old adage that the father’s hobby becomes the son’s profession, Bedrosian felt.
Bedrosian had forgotten much of his Armenian by now, but his father intervened to change all of this. In the late 1960s, when the latter was working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Soviet Armenian astrophysicist Raphael Ghazaryan came there for about six months and the two became fast friends. Together they took care of the paperwork to get approval for Bedrosian to study in Soviet Armenia, and in 1970 he learned Eastern Armenian with a tutor at the University of Yerevan. Ghazaryan, who later became a member of the Karabagh Committee, took Bedrosian on a weeklong trip to remote villages in Karabagh, then part of Azerbaijan, during that year. Bedrosian recalls that there was a surprising number of Armenian students there from many other parts of the world — the Middle East, Ethiopia, Canada, France and Eastern Europe. Since Bedrosian could understand Armenian somewhat, he also sat in on an ancient history course taught by the Iranist Hagop Papazyan and a Marxism-Leninism course — also taught in Armenian. This trip had a decisive effect on him in a number of
ways. As he pointed out, “So today if I speak Armenian, it is Eastern Armenian.”
Casting for Armenian Actors in US
After graduating from Tufts with a bachelor’s degree in history, Bedrosian attended graduate school at New York’s Columbia University from 1971 to 1979. He studied with Professors Nina Garsoïan and Krikor Maksoudian (now a vardapet). Maksoudian taught him Classical Armenian (grabar). Bedrosian also studied Armenian history and civilization, cultural anthropology and a number of dead languages such as Old Persian, Parthian, and Pahlevi. He had a good reading knowledge of French and Russian, and was preparing for a career in academia.
Bedrosian returned to Armenia from 1976 to 1977 to work on his dissertation at the Matenadaran, the famous repository of old manuscripts. The noted historian Aram Ter- Ghevondyan took him under his wing.
Thanks to him, Bedrosian spent time with his peers, including Levon Ter-Petrosian, who was then just another researcher in the Matendaran. Of course, he later became the first president of the post-Soviet independent Republic of Armenia. Bedrosian also was a frequent guest at the home of Levon Khachikyan, “the Matenadaran’s wonderful director,” as he puts it. Bedrosian, still with an air of wonderment at it all, states, “It was a rarified intellectual environment, and I dream of it still.”
In 1979, Bedrosian received his doctorate in Armenian Studies from Columbia University. The title of his thesis is “The Turco-Mongol Invasions and the Lords of Armenia in the 13-14th centuries.” It is about a turbulent period in Armenian history during which no less than 15 invasions took place.
The problem was that there were no jobs available in Armenian Studies when
Bedrosian graduated. He realized that “by the time you get through dealing with all the people and organizations that might have related jobs, you just lose your soul.” Instead, Bedrosian took a one-year course at Control Data Institute in New York in order to learn computer languages such as Assembler, Cobol, CICS, Fortran and RPG. As most of these languages are now classified as “dead,” Bedrosian wryly commented, “To my portfolio
of dead human languages I have added dead computer languages, but they were not dead yet — far from it.”
Modestly, he declares, “Luck was on my side here.” He was able to work for the next 20 years as a mainframe programmer at a variety of banks, insurance companies and brokerage houses in Manhattan, while increasing his programming skills.
At the same time, he continued with his Armenian work in the evenings and on weekends as a labor of love: “I love translating the grabar sources. It’s a means of discovering the Armenian past directly from the hands of the participants. It’s like time travel. The very first, Kirakos Gandzakets’i, was started as part of a class project when Vardapet Maksoudian was teaching me grabar.”
He began to collect materials for various studies, which later appeared as articles. Bedrosian’s article on dayeakut`iwn (childrearing in ancient Armenia) appeared in this period. He also became very interested in Armenian mythology. This led to an article on references to the Armenian highlands and the Caucasus in ancient mythologies and years later to the article “Soma among the Armenians.”
In 1985, at the urging of some friends and family, he set up a mail-order bookstore called Sources of the Armenian Tradition, and sold photocopies of the translations in binders. This company lasted until 2006, when he dismantled it. Though hardly lucrative, this undertaking demonstrated that there was quite an interest in the Classical Armenian histories. Subsequently the website proved this.
Bedrosian followed the development and expansion of the Internet in the 1990s with great interest. His background in computer languages facilitated learning the hypertext markup language (HTML) necessary to post all his translations on a website. Bedrosian points out: “This work could only be accomplished when I wasn’t at my real-world job, so it didn’t happen all at once. Still, I was so excited by the idea of putting together a content-rich site on Armenian history that I frequently stayed up very late or early.” In 1996, his website, Armenian History Workshop, went live.
The website began with his English translations of the fifth-century writers P’awstos Buzandats’i and Ghazar P’arpets’i, Sebeos (seventh century), John Mamikonean (10th), Aristakes Lastivertts’i (11th) and Kirakos Ganjakets’i (13th), as well as several of his already-published scholarly articles. As it was still the early period of development of computers and the Internet, Bedrosian had to continually upgrade his equipment while adding more translations to the site. As he enthusiastically describes it: “The machines
physically were changing every six months to a year, becoming much more powerful and able to handle all types of graphics. So I was buying computers every year. It really was an exciting time.”
Meanwhile, Bedrosian’s star was rising in the programming profession and he was able to make a good living as a consultant. During this time, from 1985 to 2001, he lived in Manhattan: “It was quite a thing: during the day I was in skyscrapers high above the Financial District writing computer software and at night I was with my beloved grabar and the Internet.”
But then the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks took place. Bedrosian was working only about one block away at Merrill Lynch. He was one of the people in the crowds running away from the burning towers. This led to much reflection over the next few months, until he decided to stop working and move back to the Bedrosian family house in Long Branch, NJ, now vacant.
He said, “So I moved back to the house I had been born in, a large Victorian house with a beautiful yard and walking distance to the Jersey Shore. I was free at last to pursue my Armenian Studies full time with no distractions and as much solitude as I wanted. One of the ‘side effects’ of the 9/11 bombing was that I have become partly reclusive, so this arrangement is heavenly.”
From 2002 to the present, Bedrosian enriched the website with many more important translations, along with new sections containing maps, chronologies, early non-historical sources on eastern Asia Minor and the Caucasus, and reliable reference works by prominent scholars like Toumanoff, Manandyan, Der Nersessian and Piotrovsky. Maksoudian allowed Bedrosian to include two of his own translations. Last year Bedrosian made compressed versions of much of this material, allowing for easy downloading. The website statistics indicate that thousands of these files have been downloaded by people all over the world. The website averages about 10,000 visitors a month.
Bedrosian sees the Internet further developing in the near future as a means for education, “a modern and indestructible Library of Alexandria — only this library would be available to everyone for free and all the time.”
Bedrosian is not optimistic about the future of American university centers for Armenian Studies: “Unfortunately, in several cases, the funds that were given to the universities and supposedly allocated strictly for Armenian Studies have been nibbled at by various forces, most notably the universities themselves. The universities also try to impose conditions on the faculty to teach courses not specifically in Armenian Studies. Add to that the nightmare of a professor of Armenian Studies with control over some funds behaving capriciously or opportunistically, and you have a recipe for disaster.”
As the universities at present cannot be trusted with donations, Bedrosian feels the best use of new funds would be to sponsor concrete projects such as publications or sponsorship of work, so that a large sum would produce a variety of observable results. Agreements should be made with the principal parties, and be legally enforceable, whether in the US or in Armenia. He gives two specific suggestions: translate the collected works of renowned Armenists like Manuk Abeghyan or Hagop Manandyan into English or, if indeed a donor wishes to establish a major monument, create an institute
similar to the Zoryan Institute, but dedicated to the pre-19th-century Armenian past, which carries out specific projects.
Bedrosian feels strongly that scholarship emerges through self-discipline and selfstudy: “Creative scholarship is not a groupproject, and ‘communities’ like universities and other organizations are the best places to kill it.”
Furthermore, in the current economic climate, he thinks it unlikely that people will pursue Armenian Studies as a career. Fortunately, his website allows anybody with time and determination to pursue Armenian Studies for free, as a hobby. Even a course on Classical Armenian is available through a linked site. Bedrosian is clear about his goal: “‘Knowledge freely given.’ That’s my motto. I want to present enough material — the primary sources and some reference works — that an interested, intelligent person can get a decent education from it.”
Indian Diamond Cutting
Main article: Mughal Cut We can’t speak about diamond cutting without getting into J.B. Tavernier’s travel accounts which have been bundled into his Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier in which he provides a great insight into Indian diamond fashioning of the 17th century through his illustrations and text:
…the mill was like ours, the large wheel of which was turned by four blacks. The Indians do not agree with us in believing that weighting them causes flaws in the stones. If theirs do not receive any it is because they always have a small boy who holds in his hand a very thin wooden spoon, with which he anoints the wheel incessantly with oil and diamond powder. Added to which their wheel does not go so fast as ours, because the wooden wheel which causes the steel one to revolve is seldom more than 3 feet in diameter.The Indians are unable to give the stones such a lively polish as we give them in Europe this, I believe, is due to the fact that their wheels do not run so smoothly as ours. For, being made of steel, in order to grind it on the emery, of which it has need every twenty-four hours, it has to be taken off the tree, and it cannot be replaced so as to run as evenly as it should do. If they possessed the iron wheel like ours, for which not emery but the file is required, it is not necessary to remove it from the tree in order to file it, and they could give the stones a better polish than they do. I have stated that it is necessary to rub the wheel with emery or to file it every twenty-four hours, and it is desirable that this should be done every twelve hours if the workman is not lazy. For when the stone has run a certain time, the part of the wheel where it has pressed becomes polished like a mirror, and if the place be not roughened by emery or the file, the powder does not stick to it. When it does adhere more work can be done in one hour than in two when there is none on the wheel. Although a particular diamond may be by nature hard, having, so to speak, a kind of knot, one such as is seen in wood, the Indian diamond-cutters would not hesitate to cut such a stone, although our diamond-cutters in Europe would experience great difficulty in doing so, and as a general rule would be unwilling to undertake it but the Indians are paid something extra for their trouble.
The product of the Indian style of cutting has been named the Mughal Cut. The term Mughal Cut is better understood to be describing ‘a diamond cut in India in the 16th, 17th or 18th century’ rather than a certain shape or arrangements of facets.