Andreea Tănase – Armenians in Romania

Written by oitzarisme

Armenians in Romania. The stories of the people close to us is a testimony of the Armenian community in Romania, as seen today. It is a foray into the Armenian tradition, history and the stories of the people close to us. Following the theme of getting to know the Armenian community in Romania, present only in small numbers today (approximately 6.000 people), this documentary fills the Romanian cultural diversity space by presenting a community often omitted by the cultural index or too little known to the public.

“I began documenting the Armenian community in Romania because I was impressed with the Armenian Genocide stories I had read about. In Romania, certain historical realities are still silenced and consequently they are either absent or poorly presented in the educational curriculum. In the history books I studied in school, there was no reference to the Armenian Genocide, and in the current ones there is only a brief presentation. Therefore, one may say I was inspired in my journalistic endeavor by the crimes from the beginning of the past century, known as the Armenian Genocide. I desired to talk to people of unspoken things and to tell the stories of the people next to us, the ones we look at and pass by every day. I also needed to know our past and history. A few months into my documentation, it became clear to me that the activities of the Armenian community in Romania revolve around the church, so I decided to get to know the Armenians during their moments of celebration. Because they are a small community with very few members in many cities, for most Armenians, the only opportunity to experience their traditions is through religious manifestations. This is why many of the photographs presented in this album have a religious theme.

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Gor Perikhanyan takes part in the religious ceremony “The washing of the feet” held on Holy Thursday in the St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel Armenian Apostolic Cathedral (1911-1915) in Bucharest, Romania. According to tradition, the parish priest washes and oils with myrrh the feet of 12 children, to symbolise Jesus Christ’s act of washing the feet of his 12 Apostles, at the Last Supper.
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A woman watches the religious procession held during the celebration of Saint Mary, in front of St. Elisabeth Armenian Catholic Cathedral (1766-1791) in Dumbrăveni, Romania.
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Armenian and Romanian pilgrims taste the traditional dishes prepared on the occasion of the “Dormition of the Mother of God” celebration, in the refectory of Hagigadar Monastery (1512), Suceava.
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Pilgrims observe the procession during the “Dormition of the Mother of God” celebration from the wall of Hagigadar Monastery (1512), located in Bulai village, 3 km from Suceava, Romania. Every year, during this religious celebration, Armenians come together to take part in the biggest pilgrimage organized by the community in Romania.
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Inside the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (1748-1789) in Gherla. The cathedral houses the painting “The descent from the Cross”, signed by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.
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A group of men chatting on a bench from the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (1748-1789) park in Gherla.

During my journey through Romania I met descendants of the old Armenian families who came to our country with the first waves of immigration. Forced by the communist regime to hide their identity, they no longer know their language or traditions but are now eager to rediscover their roots. I met Armenians who have struggled to preserve their identity by reading and writing daily in the Armenian language, so they won’t forget it. I met Armenians who had left Romania at a certain time of their lives and who return every year to reunite with the community and to take part in the main celebrations. I met Armenians who have recently moved to Romania, are happy to live here and have expressed gratitude for the Romanian hospitality. I met Armenians who dream of Romania and Romanians who dream of Armenia. I became very close to the Armenian community, I have made dear friends and I consider Armenians to be a part of my identity.

The book is a documentary project focusing on a part of the Armenian community’s history in Romania. I captured Armenians living within their community, but also within their families. I concentrated on an Armenian family from Bucharest, deeply involved in the community’s activities. With deep regret I mention the passing of some of the Armenians portrayed in the album, completing the life and death cycle, which is present in every story.

To complete this photo album, I traveled to 16 cities in Romania, the Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria and Armenia. The documentation phase lasted three years, from 2007 to 2010, during which I gathered the necessary material consisting of thousands of photos and dozens of hours of interviews.” – Andreea Tănase

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The traditional Armenian dance group Vartavar perform in celebration of “Mother Language Day”, on 22nd of February 2008, in Bucharest, Romania.
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Arshaluys Paronyan (center) with her daughter Lusine Navasardyan (right) and the Reverend Father Ezras Bogdan (left) study the contents of old Armenian printed books inside the Hovsep and Victoria Dudian Armenian library.
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Eufrosina Aneta Costeschi (born in 1918) with her brother, Bogdan Costeschi (born in 1915), inside their home in Botoșani, Romania. Two Armenian churches still exist in Botoșani, one of them being the oldest Armenian religious building in Romania, constructed in 1350.
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Lector Maria Epatov (center) teaches Romanian at the Yerevan State Linguistic University Valeri Brusov in Armenia.
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Varduca Azaduhi Horenian with her paintings inside the Marion Hotel in Dumbrăveni, Romania.
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The Reverend Father Avedis Mandalian and his parishioners during a religious ceremony in the Armenian Church in Constanța.

Preorder and buy a copy of the album Armenians in Romania. The stories of the people close to usto finance its print. We need at least 300 orders to print it.

Andreea Tănase (b. 1976) is an independent photojournalist with 10 years experience in press photography. She addressed varied topics, from news to social reports and photo documentaries and approached the Romanian social and cultural context. She worked at top newspapers in Romania and collaborated with major magazines and photo agencies in Romania as well as abroad.

Andreea Tănase has a Communication and Public Relations degree from the Ecological University of Bucharest, graduated from the New York Institute of Photography, USA, has completed photojournalism courses organized by the Centre for Independent Journalism in Bucharest and completed a Masters degree in Information Management in Combating Terrorism at the Intelligence Academy “Mihai Viteazul” in Bucharest.

More of her works on www.andreeatanase.com.

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