SAH News

Adnan Morshed: On Armenians in Dhaka

by Adnan Morshed | Jun 13, 2016

Through the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection on Church Road in Old Dhaka architect Adnan Morshed explores the Armenian history in Dhaka. Excerpts from the article published by The Daily Star are provided below:

The church is modest in its architectural scope, yet its history offers a rich tapestry of the Armenian footprint on the commerce, politics, and education of East Bengal. More important, the church is an architectural testament to the story of how the Armenian diasporas spread out from their historic homeland, located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, to far-flung regions, and thrived as a versatile cosmopolitan community.

Armenia occupies a crucial geographic location at the intersection of various civilizations and trading routes, such as the Silk Road from China to Rome. A vital link between East and West, the country was under the domination of various competing political powers, including the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Persians again, the Ottomans, and the Russians. Their long political subjugation, on the one hand, made it difficult for them to maintain their Christian faith, language, culture, and national identity. (The Armenians were the first people to embrace Christianity as a state religion in 301 CE). On the other hand, challenging circumstances exhorted Armenians to be resilient in the face of political repression, to develop entrepreneurial acumen and mediating skills, and to be a “trade diaspora.” Wherever the Armenians went to trade, they typically learned the local language – unlike other Asian or European merchants – and they benefitted from the ability to communicate with primary producers.

The Armenians also played a significant role in the history of world architecture. In the early medieval period, when the Byzantine world abandoned classical stonework in favor of brick masonry (the sixth-century Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is basically a brick construction), only the Armenians retained the knowledge of concrete work and continued the Hellenistic attitude to buildings as a compact, object-like impression in space. Their contribution had a crucial influence on subsequent development of church architecture in Europe.

Read Public Radio in Armenia's article here

 Read The Daily Star article here

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