Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • kehz nehgh ahrah, uhngehrochut degh ahrah

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  • ahmehn pahrehv duhvogh pahrehgahm cheh

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  • paregamoutioun meeahyne khosgohv chee dzuhnveer

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  • paregamuh portzankee metch eh janahchoum

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  • buhdoukuh kuhldohrvetzahv, khoup kuhdhav

    This saying conveys the meaning that two people have found each other (as in a compatible union).

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  • mehnk aylyevus chehnk gurnarh parehgamanahl eerahrou,
    vorovheddehv toun giankee yev yes botchee tzahv ouneenk

    There is a story behind this proverbial saying. Snakes have often been an important part of Armenian folk beliefs. Armenians have entertained the belief that each house had a guardian snake or house snake that brought good fortune (paroroutioun barkevogh in Armenian or bharakeht in Turkish , which means blessing). Snakes also were known for being attracted to a woman’s beauty and melodious singing.

    One day a seven or eight year old boy played with the house snake and carelessly used a pen knife to cut the snake’s tail. The pain of the wound enraged the snake who bit the small boy. The snake crawled away from the house. The small boy died shortly after from the snake’s poison.

    Years passed. The house which the snake left was plagued by bad fortune.The father of the house experienced business losses and all the members of the family had troubles. The family friends and acquaintances attributed the misfortunes to the departure of the house snake.

    The father of the house began to travel far and wide to find the snake. Finally, one day on a large boulder the snake appeared before the father and heard his entreaties. The snake said, “Here I am.”

    The father pleaded that the snake return to the house. He explained the misfortunes that plagued the family since the departure of the snake. He stated that he was convinced that all the misfortune was caused by the departure of the snake. He then swore to forgive the snake for poisoning his son if he returned with him to the house. The snake refused to return and explained, “We can never again becomes friends, because you are suffering from your loss of life (your son) and I, my tail.” This statement has become a proverb to this day.

    If we ignore the folk belief in the benefits of prosperity and good fortune by having a snake living in the proximity of the home, we can discover other truisms in this proverb. Notice the father is ready to forgive the snake but the snake is not ready to forgive the father’s boy. It is very significant. Snakes are actually very envious creatures. They have a poisoned tongue and slitter in dark places waiting for unsuspecting prey. They never forgive especially if they are disturbed. For the most part, their poison is lethal and acts very quickly causing a horrible death. They can be vengeful.

    Satan is portrayed as a snake in the story of Adam and Eve. He spitefully caused the fall of the couple from the grace of God and their carefree existence in paradise.

    Poisonous snakes can never be domesticated like other animals. Their nature is to be envious and reptiles of prey. The only recourse is to break their fangs and force them to eject all their poison. Then and only then can the snake’s ferocious nature be curbed without fear of being poisoned to death.

    There are many meanings to decipher from this story and proverb. When a person manifests an envious and unforgiving nature they are as dangerous as a poisonous snake. Such a person cannot be placated by anything except the complete undoing of their so-called adversary. There is a difference between envy and jealousy. When one is jealous of someone else they covet what the other person has. Once they attain the same or better, then their jealousy subsides. However, an envious person is never satisfied by attaining the same or better than another. They will only be satisfied when the other person loses everything they have. An envious person is the most dangerous because they are never satisfied until the other person is destroyed.

    There was once a two-headed snake. The two heads would argue incessantly. They hated each other although they were attached to the same body. One day, one of the two decided to end this constant torture so he swallowed poison and they both died.

    The question in my mind is does one evolve blessings or good fortune by having a house snake? There are many other snake stories interwoven in Armenian folklore and real experiences of the people. I will illustrate more of them. What they convey is that there is a definite personality and individual identity of each snake.

    The snakes are treated as persons that people talk to and relate to in the normal course of life. Snakes have certain powers that Armenians and other ancient people have recognized. Armenians even offered a certain veneration to snakes as the following story illustrates. This is a story told by a gentleman named Bhaghdasar Kevorkian.

    “My beautiful mother’s home was next to a huge cave. In her house there was a a passage way to a small room. My beautiful mother would enter that small room every Saturday night and light a candle and pray to her patron saints. One Saturday night as was her habit she lit a candle and left it burning. The next day (Sunday morning) when she entered the room she saw a snaked curled up next to the candle. The snake was observing the candle which was nearly burned out. My mother talked to the snake. “haidhe, knah aysdeghen, ays sourp degh eh - Away with you, go away from here, this is a holy place.” The snake quietly went away. Another gentleman remembers the following from his childhood. “In his family house in Turkey, he remembered a pantry room where there was an open space or large crevice in one wall. His mother told him that their house snake ( bahhabahn otzin - the protective snake of their house) lived in that large crevice. His mother considered the snake as protecting and blessing their house. She would regularly lite a candle for the snake every day.

    There were certain persons who were expert in the art of otz gahb (literally “tying a snake” or saying certain words and murmuring phrases that rendered the snake immovable or stationary for a period of time). The snake could only move when the expert in otz gahb released them from the spell that was cast on them. Mrs. Hripseme Aslanian has related a true experience she had. She was born in Chounkoush, Turkey. When she was eight years old (1915), she witnessed the massacre of her family and relatives by Turkish soldiers. She was left an orphan and was saved from death by a Turkish family that took her to a nearby village and raised her. Around 1932, she accompanied the Turkish family back to Chounkoush for a wedding. When in Chounkoush, she asked permission of her adoptive father to go back to to see the ruins of her family home in the abandoned section of town where the Armenians once lived. She searched the ruins of the Armenian quarter and found the remains of her family home. The desolation and loneliness of that place affected her so much that she sat down under a tree and began to cry pitiably remembering her family and the horrors they suffered. She gradually fainted from the pain and sorrow of the remembrance. When her adoptive family did not see her return, they began to search for her. They found her in a unconscious stupor laying on the ground under a tree. They also saw a snake that was curled up very close to her. The snake was the “house snake” that lived in her family house during her childhood. Thinking she was poisoned by the snake, one of the men pulled his gun to kill the snake.

    But another man, stopped him. He then used his powers to incapacitate the snake or “tie it” by murmuring prayers or incantations that he knew. The snake was motionless due to the incantations. They revived the girl and examined her to see if she was bitten by the snake. When it was determined she was not bitten by the snake, the snake expert released the snake from his mesmerized stupor and ordered it, “Go back to your place”. The snake slide back into the ruins of her family house.

    It is said, “Poor Chounkush, even your snakes are gladdened when they see a live Armenian.”

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  • sahn hed dohbrahguh mee muhdnar

    Don’t get into the same sac with a dog.

    Don’t associate yourself with unworthy people.

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  • Vad parehgamner mogheeree bes yen, yeteh tzerkut chee aieeryi guh sevtzeneh

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  • Meg kntzoree ghes en

    This proverb is used to show a remarkable resemblance between two persons.

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