Persia and Persians in Raffi’s Xamsayi Melik‘utiwnnerə

In: Studies on Iran and The Caucasus
Author: Aldo Ferrari

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This paper takes into consideration the image of Persia and Persians in Raffi’s Xamsayi melik‘ut‘iwnnerə. It is not a literary work, but a kind of history of Łarabał/Arc‘ax, especially of the Armenian nobility of that region, the so-called meliks. During almost the whole period described by Raffi—1600-1827—Łarabał was part of the Persian empire, although in a position of strong autonomy. Therefore it is not surprising that we find in Xamsayi melik‘ut‘iwnnerə many remarkable considerations about Persia and Persians, obviously according to the peculiar ideological perspective of Raffi. As a matter of fact, the western-minded Armenian writer often addresses to the Persians the “orientalist” biases of “religious fanaticism”, “cruelty” and “barbarism”. Nevertheless his text provides an interesting description of the secular relations between Persia and the Armenians, mainly but not only those of Łarabał, in the fields of politics, religion and customs. Xamsayi melik‘ut‘iwnnerə can also be considered an important evaluation of the transition from the Persian influence to the Russian one undergone by Eastern Armenia in XVIII-XIX centuries. In spite of his warm, but not uncritical, support to the Tsarist conquest of Transcaucasia, Raffi was indeed able to give a multisided picture of this process.

Studies on Iran and The Caucasus

In Honour of Garnik Asatrian


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