In the Shadow of Ararat

Last evening I watched Atom Egoyan's "Ararat", a multi-layered film based loosely on the Siege of Van during the Armenian Genocide. I was intrigued by the tragic story of the people and the land...to the degree that I wanted to look further and attempt to extract some of the legends and paranormal history of the area.

The Armenian people or Armenians are are an ethnic group native to the Caucasus and the Armenian Highland. Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after Jesus's death.

The following are a few legends...some where written in poem, many more were passed on by the storytellers:



Dakhanavar: The Armenian Vampire

In “Transcaucasia: Sketches of the Nations and Races Between the Black Sea and the Caspian,” published in 1854, Baron von Hauxthausen recalls the tale told to him by his travel guide, Peter Neu, about a cruel Armenian vampire named “Dakhanavar” or “Dashanavar” that lived in the mountains who had a strange and unusual way of killing victims.

“On our right rose the glaciers of Allagas and at two miles from Erivan commenced the mountains of Ultmish Altotem, stretching to a distance of forty or fifty versts. They are said to have 366 Valleys, respecting which Peter related the following Armenian legend,” wrote Hauxthausen.

“There once dwelt in a cavern in this country a vampire, called Dakhanavar, who could not endure anyone to penetrate into these mountains or count their valleys. Everyone who attempted this had in the night his blood sucked by the monster, from the soles of his feet, until he died. The vampire was however at last outwitted by two cunning fellows: they began to count the valleys and when night came on they lay down to sleep, taking care to place themselves with the feet of the one under the head of the other. In the night the monster came, felt as usual and found a head: then he felt at the other end, and found a head there also. “Well,” he cried. “I have gone through the whole 366 Valleys of these mountains, and have sucked the blood of people without end, but never yet did I find any one with two heads and no feet!” SO saying, he ran away and was never more seen in that country; but ever after the people have known that the mountain has 366 Valleys.”

Unlike vampire tales from Eastern Europe and the Western world, there are not many documented sources of Dakhanavar whose name could stem from the Armenian word “dajan,” meaning “cruel.” Given that many popular vampires like Dracula and the like are ruthless creators who know how to lure their victims and don’t easily give up, Mr. Dakhanavar is pretty, well, incompetent as vampires go. Still, Jonathan Maberry author of “Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings That Haunt Us, Hunt Us and Hunger for Us” describes the superstitions still associated with the Armenian vampire of the mountains.

“The Dakhanavar is ferociously territorial and will assault anyone who tries to make a map of its lands, or even count the hills and valleys in the region, correctly fearing that a thorough knowledge of the landscape would reveal all of its secret hiding places.

Even today some travelers in Armenia, particularly those going into the region of Mount Ararat, generally take precautions against evil beings such as Dakhanvar. Often, they put small cloves of raw garlic in various pockets or mash it up and rub the paste on their shoes. At night, if camping out of doors, these travelers build a large fire and toss garlic bulbs into the flames. The combination of garlic aroma and a blazing fire will drive almost all of the world’s many species of vampires away.” - anyanmag.com

Haig the Hero

According to the traditional history of Armenia, Haig the Hero, father of the Armenian people, was the legendary patriarch of the Armenian nation, and the fourth lineage of Noah. Haig the Hero refused to accept the conditions set by Bel, the legendary tyrant of Asyria, that he (Haig) would enjoy every freedom and comfort if only he recognized the sovereignty of Bel. After the Tower of Babel was destroyed by God, Haig the Hero and his followers’ freedom loving spirits faced Bel in battle, killed him, and secured unconditional freedom for himself and his followers. After the battle Haig migrated further to the north, where according to legend, he founded Hayastan. This legend, in its simplicity proves that the Armenian spirit does not tolerate slavery, but has a deep love for that heavenly blessing known as freedom. And it is because of this that the Armenians have lifted their national legendary Hero and their forefather up to the skies and named the constellation “Orion” after him—HAIG.



Ara the Handsome

The legend of Ara the Handsome, son of Aram, was the seventh generation after Haig, and king of Armenia (more probably Urarta). Samiramis, who was the queen of Assyria, desired Ara the handsome. Because he was already married and did not want to betray his loyalty to his home and family, he refused to marry queen Samaramis.

After Ara declined her advances she invaded the country and Ara was slain. Thus, Ara the Handsome, a legendary king of Armenia gave his life to save his honor in remaining loyal to his marriage vow.

The legend of Ara the handsome (also called Ara the Beautiful) and Samiramis has been kept alive for some 3000 years. It is possible that such an event has really taken place Due to the story’s transmittal by word of mouth for so many centuries it has taken its present legendary character symbolizing the loyalty of the Armenians toward their home and family. Armenians have truly remained loyal to their home and family not only in the distant past but also in modern times.

During the massacres of 1895 and 1915 the Armenian men and women proved their loyalty towards their home and family with a spirit as heroic, as beautiful, and moving as that of Ara the Beautiful. Thousands of Armenian women threw themselves into rivers or the inferno of blazing houses, so they may not suffer the lust of the Turk or live in his Harem. The story of Lucretia who committed suicide after she was violated by Tarquinus Sextus, was acted out thousands of times by Armenian women who became the modern Lucretia symbolizing chastity and loyalty to married life, truly believing that these virtues were the foundation of home and nation.

Had these two legends not existed they would have been created sooner or later by the Armenian people who have been endowed with the love of freedom and home throughout their history. - “Atlas of Historical Armenia”- by H. K. Babessian

NOTE: Two very good links for a deeper look into Armenian history - The Primary History of Armenia and The Beginnings of Armenia...Lon


Click for video 1


Click for video 2

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MOUNT ARARAT and NOAH'S ARK

Nicholas II and the expedition to Mount Ararat

Conspiracy theorists believe that Nicholas II of Russia sent an expedition party to Mount Ararat in 1917 to investigate reported remains of Noah's Ark.

The Russian Imperial Air Force is reputed to have sent up to 150 men up the mountain to examine an 'anomaly' after 'a Russian pilot flying over the area reported a dark structure about the size of a battleship with a rounded-over top'.

The odds are stacked against this particular tale, as Nicholas abdicated during the February Revolution of 1917, meaning it is unlikely that the expedition was ever sent.

Some investigators have claimed that the expedition actually set off in 1916 and that after finding the 'ark' a number of photographs were taken. Unfortunately, in true conspiracy-theorist style, the photographs mysteriously disappeared after Leon Trotsky discovered their existence.

Subsequent expeditions have been unable to find the colossal structure.

Professors Mud & Stoneass

In an unfortunate case of failing to check the date, a number of papers picked up on the Kölnische Illustrierte Zeitung April 1 story on Noah's Ark.

A number of pictures accompanied the 1933 article, showing a huge boat resting on a mountainside, which were duly reprinted across the globe with translations of the article.

On April 8 1933 the Cologne-based paper admitted its tomfoolery, but even though the tale was unquestionably false, that didn't stop an intrepid group of Ark-hunters in 1972 basing their search for the lost vessel on the original article.

Fernand Navarra

When French explorer Fernand Navarra announced that he had found a five-foot section of the Ark on the slopes of Mount Arat, people were, it seems, justifiably sceptical of his claims.

The Forestry Institute of Research and Experiments of the Ministry of Agriculture in Spain dated the wood at 5,000 years old, seemingly vindicating Navarra's claims. However, it was later discovered that the samples are actually only between 725 and 535 years old and that Navarra had in fact simply bought the wood from a nearby village.

George Jammal

George Jammal claimed in 1993 that he had found a section of 'sacred wood from the Ark' in a CBS documentary. The expedition, according to Jammal, was long, arduous and even claimed the life of his friend Vladimir.

In fact, the entire story was a deliberate hoax designed to fool the media, at the centre of which was a lump of timber that had actually been lifted from Californian train tracks.

NOTE: The ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is widely considered a genocide, an estimated 1.5 million victims, with one wave of persecution in the years 1894 to 1896 culminating in the events of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and 1916. With World War I in progress, the Turks accused the (Christian) Armenians as liable to ally with Imperial Russia, and used it as a pretext to deal with the entire Armenian population as an enemy within their empire. As a result of the Armenian Genocide, a large number of survivors fled to many countries throughout the world. Please read Armenian Stories and Nshan Kiramidzhyan...Lon


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