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  • Writer's pictureLeo Torosian

A Fedayi's Funeral

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

What the funeral of an unknown freedom fighter during the Constitutional Revolution in Iran tells us about honor in troubled times

An Intriguing Photograph


The photograph above, held at the Armenian Revolutionary Federation archives in Watertown, is an intriguing addition to the often forgotten history of the participation of the Armenians in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.


The photograph depicts Nikol of Gandzak’s funeral. A testament to how popular post-mortem photography was common at the time, Nikol’s lifeless face can be seen in the center of the flower arrangement. The casket seems to be turned to the side for the purposes of the photograph. An A.R.F. flag can be seen between the men ceremoniously guarding the casket. Interestingly, this flag contains both Armenian and Persian writing. In Armenian, “Հ.Յ. Դաշնակցութիւն'' [A.R. Federation] and, in Persian, what seems to be "توتیون...", probably the ending of "داشناختوتیون" - Dashnaktoutiun. Two hanging ribbons from the casket seem to read “ՄԻ ԽՈՒՄԲ ՈՒՍՈՒՑԻՉՆԵՐԻՑ” and “ՅԻՇԱՏԱԿ ՄԱՐՏԻԿՆԵՐԻՆ” or “From a group of teachers” and “In memoriam of the fighters”.


Who was Nikol of Gandzak?


According to the Houshamatian of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun Album, Nikol of Gandzak was a former Russian soldier. He took part in the ransacking of Alexandropol’s (presently, Gyumri) Russian military depot, most probably in 1904. By that time, the ARF had stolen weapons and munitions from the Russian bases so many times, it had become a tradition. Nikol of Gandzak crossed from Alexandropol into Khoy, in Persia, and participated in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution alongside the A.R.F..


How did Nikol of Gandzak Die?


Over centuries, the Armenian village of Mujambar in North-West Iran had been the victim of raids and looting by different tribes. By the beginning of the 20th century, due to the Turkish-Persian War and the Armenian Revolutionary movement, Mujambar had become a hotspot of revolutionary activity and was called "Small Zeytun" or "The Nest of Eagles".


During the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, on October 28th, 1908, 20 A.R.F. Freedom fighters, among which Nikol of Gandzak, arrived in Mujambar to defend the village. They fought against Sami and Poyuk Khan, who had the intention of massacring the civilians gathered in the village’s Saint-Hripsime Church. During the battle, two young freedom fighters, Ardem (Razmig) and Nikol of Gandzak were killed, before reinforcements arrived from Tabriz.


During the battle, in the Saint-Hripsime Church, where the women and children were gathered, two baby boys were born. In honor of the two freedom fighters killed on that day, their parents named them Ardem and Nikol. The remains of the two martyrs were brought and buried in Tabriz's Lilava neighborhood's, in the vecinity of Saint-Sarkis's Church.


 

Sources:


“Post-Mortem Photography: An Overview.” UM Clements Library, 19 July 2019, https://clements.umich.edu/exhibit/death-in-early-america/post-mortem-overview/. Accessed 10 Sept. 2023.

Houshamatian of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutiun Album - Atlas Volume I, Diutsaznamart, ARF Central Committee, Glendale, 1992. p.196


Հակոբյան, Կարապետ. “Հյդ Կարսի Ու Ալեքսանդրապոլի Կենտրոնական Կոմիտեների Գործունեությունը Զենք Ու Զինամթերք Հայթայթելու Եվ Երկիր Փոխադրելու Ուղղությամբ (1892-1908 Թթ.).” ԵՊՀ. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.


Շառոյեան, Լեւոն. “Թերթատելով Պարսկահայոց «Արտազ» Ամսագիրը. Թաւրիզահայ Մամուլը Եւ «Արտազ» (Է.).” Aztag Daily, 23 May 2013, https://archive.aztagdaily.com/archives/121432. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.


Սիմոնյան, Հրաչիկ . “1905-1912 Թթ. Պարսկական Հեղափոխությունը Եվ Հայերը.” Երեւան ԵՊՀ Հրատարակչություն, 2017. p.573.


Original Photograph:


ARF Archives: FTG_box006_418_front





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