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Tumanyan Hovhannes

Tumanyan Hovhannes

Tumanyan Hovhannes
Hovhannes Tumanyan  (February 19 [O.S. February 7] 1869 – March 23, 1923) was an Armenian writer and public activist. He is considered to be the national poet of Armenia.

Tumanyan wrote poems, quatrains, ballads, novels, fables, critical and journalistic articles. His work was mostly written in realistic form, often centering on everyday life of his time. Born in the historical village of Dsegh in the Lori region, at a young age Tumanyan moved to Tiflis, which was the center of Armenian culture under the Russian Empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries. He soon became known to the wide Armenian society for his simple but very poetic works.

Many films and animated films have been adapted from Tumanyan's works. Two operas: Anush (1912) by Armen Tigranian and Almast (1930) by Alexander Spendiaryan, were written based on his works.

Hovhannes Tumanyan was born on February 19, 1869 in the village of Dsegh, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire (now in Lori Province, Armenia).

His father, Aslan (1839–1898), was the village priest known by the name Ter-Tadevos. He was an offspring of an Armenian princely family of Tumanyan, branch of the famous royal house of Mamikonian that settled in Lori in 10th–11th centuries from their original feudal fief of Taron.

His mother, Sona (1842–1936), an avid storyteller with a particular interest in fables. Young Tumanyan was the oldest of eight children; his siblings were Rostom (1871–1915), Osan (1874–1926), Iskuhi (1878–1943), Vahan (1881–1937), Astghik (1885–1953), Arshavir (1888–1921), Artashes (1892–1916).

From 1877–1879, Tumanyan attended the parochial school of Dsegh. From 1879–1883 he went to a school in Jalaloghly. Tumanyan moved to Tiflis in 1883, where he attended the Nersisyan School from 1883–1887. Tumanyan's wrote his first poem at the age of 12, while studying in Jalaloghly school. He lived at the teacher's house for a while and was in love with teacher's daughter Vergine. Since 1893, Tumanyan worked for Aghbyur, Murtch, Hasker and Horizon periodicals and also was engaged in public activism.

In 1899, Tumanyan came up with an idea of organizing meetings of Armenian intellectuals of the time at his house on 44 Bebutov Street in Tiflis (present-day Amaghleba 18, in Sololaki). Soon it became an influential literary group, which often gathered in the garret of Tumanyan's house. Vernatun means garret in Armenian, which was the name the group was referred to. Prominent members of the collective were Avetik Isahakyan, Derenik Demirchyan, Levon Shant, Ghazaros Aghayan, Perch Proshyan, Nikol Aghbalian, Alexander Shirvanzade, Nar-Dos, Vrtanes Papazyan, Vahan Terian, Leo, Stepan Lisitsyan, Mariam Tumanyan, Gevorg Bashinjagyan and many other significant Armenian figures of early 20th century. With some pauses, it existed until 1908.

In 1912 Tumanyan was elected the president of the Company of Caucasus Armenian Writers.

In the fall of 1921, Tumanyan went to Constantinople to find support of Armenian refugees. After months spent there, he returned ill. After surgery in 1922, he started to get better. But in September, Tumanyan's disease started to progress again. He was transferred to a hospital in Moscow, where he died on March 23, 1923.

In 1888, at the age of 19, Hovhannes Tumanyan got married to Olga Matchkalyan, 17. They had 10 children: Musegh (1889–1938), Ashkhen (1891–1968), Nvard (1892–1957), Artavazd (1894–1918), Hamlik (1896–1937), Anush (1898–1927), Arpik (1899–1981), Areg (1900–1939), Seda (1905–1988), Tamar (1907–1989).

During the government-provoked Armenian–Tatar massacres of 1905–1907, Tumanyan took the role of a peacemaker, for which he was arrested twice. Tumanyan also deeply criticized the Georgian–Armenian War of 1918.

In October 1914 Tumanyan joined the "Committee for Support of War Victims", which later helped Armenian Genocide refugees settled in Etchmiadzin.

Tumanyan's word is simple, natural and poetically inspired at the same time. It is not by mere chance that dozens of phrases and expressions from Tumanyan's works have become a natural part of people's everyday language, their sayings, adages, and maxims.

Tumanyan is usually regarded in Armenian circles as "All-Armenian poet". He earned this title when the Catholicos of Armenia had ordered that Armenian refugees from the west not enter certain areas of his church and house, since he is considered to be "The Catholicos of all Armenians". Tumanyan in response decried that decision claiming that the refugees could seek relief in the Catholicos' quarters under order of "The Poet of all Armenians".

He created lyrics, fables, epic poems and translations into Armenian of Byron, Goethe and Pushkin.

Ballads and poems

The Dog and the Cat (1886)
Maro (1887)
Akhtamar (1891)
Davit of Sasun (1902)
The Capture of Tmkaberd (1902)
A Drop of Honey (1909)
The End of Evil (1908)
The Shah and the Peddler (1917)


Anush (1890)
David of Sassoun
Fairy tales
Nazar the Brave
The Kid Goat
The Unlucky Panos

In Armenia

Tumanyan's native village of Dsegh was renamed Tumanyan in his honor from 1938–1969.
In 1951, the village of Dzagidzor of Lori Province was renamed Tumanyan
Pedagogical University of Vanadzor
Armenian State Puppet Theater in Yerevan
Tumanyan St. in central Yerevan
Tumanyan Park in Yerevan's Ajapnyak district