Julfa Area: Christian Holy Sites

  January 25, 2022   Read time 2 min
Julfa Area: Christian Holy Sites
New Julfa had several famous painters. Chardin met one of them, called Avadick. He was a wealthy Armenian merchant who had resided in Italy for some years. On his return to Isfahan, he produced a number of paintings in the Armenian churches of the town. 

Another illustrious painter was Minas, who trained in Aleppo under European masters. He was much appreciated by Shah Safi, who had seen his paintings at the residences of notable Armenians. Yakobian was another famous painter. His skills had made him naqqashbashi at the court of Shah Abbas II (1642- 1666). The Shah appreciated him to the extent of granting him the governorship of New Julfa. Another painterof high repute, Yovhannes Mrkuz, belonged to the clerical class. He has been credited by Khachatur Julayechi with the decorations of All Saviour’s Cathedral.

New Julfa had twenty-five small churches, which may have also contained some pieces of art, but there is no allusion to them in the sources. The European travellers were more impressed with the mansions of the prominent Armenians, which like the churches were well ornamented. The house of one of New Julfa’s governors, Hodshe Minozes, had an amply decorated large hall. The front gates of these houses were usually very small in order to prevent people from seeing the magnificence of the interior.

During this period, the Armenians produced some religious literature, as well as books that reflected their commercial talents. A certain Kostand composed a treatise on the basic rules of trade and on the different types of measures and currencies used in other countries. In the 1640's, Simeon Julayechi produced an Armenian grammar book for the use of his community. None of these books were written in Persian. Although there were groups of Armenians living in Iran before the Safavid period, they were not assimilated linguistically, as the bulk of their population had been brought to Iran relatively late. Nonetheless, it seems that their interest in the Persian literature was ignited once they had migrated to the Mughal court. A certain Alexander nicknamed Mirza Zul-Qarnain, reached fame as a poet at the court of Shah Jahan. Unfortunately, none of the verses he composed have reached us. Another poet, who migrated from Iran to India and has been thought by some to be Armenian, is Sarmad.818 However, he has generally been referred to as a Muslim convert of Jewish background.

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