Byurat Cultural Foundation

About

The Byurat Cultural Foundation was not formally established until January 2000. Preparations beforehand included research and gathering information, as well as locating old literary and historical facts, data, manuscripts and publications.

Smbat Byurat

The foundation's main goal is to introduce and translate the literary works of Smbat Byurat and Vaghinak Byurat to the Armenian community throughout the world, especially in the United States. Some of the published works will be translated to English. The original writings are held as archives in The Writers Union of Armenia, so some of the books will be published in Armenia. The BCF has set ties and is communicating with The Writers Union to prepare, publish and distribute these books in Armenia. The remaining books will be published in the United States.

The published books will be distributed throughout the university chairs and libraries. The books are not expected to generate revenue and will be distributed as donations.

The first book published is the short self-biography of Vaghinak Byurat titled “My Life’s Memories,” or in Armenian, “Im Kyanki Hoosherits”. The book was published in 1999. If the book generates interest, it will be translated to English.

The second book by Vaghinak Byurat, was titled “Best Writings” or in Armenian, “Endir Edjer” which includes, "Arunot Tashkinak" (translated: "Bloody Handkerchief") and “Shekhi Vortin” (translated: “Sheik’s Son”). It was published in 2002.

The foundation published Smbat Byurat’s first book, entitled, “Best of Novels” or in Armenian, “Yerger” in 2001. This was Smbat Byurat’s first ever publication in Armenia.

Also, in 2002, the foundation published a book named, “Smbat Byurat’s World of Novels” in Armenian, translated: “Smbat Byurati Vebashkhare.” The book was written and published by State Museum of Literature and Art of Armena.

The foundation will concentrate on publishing more of Smbat Byurat's works. Vaghinak Byurat and his brother published most of his works before the 1930’s, and now very few sample works exist. One of the main tasks is finding these books and republishing them. Smbat Byurat’s literary works are estimated to be over 40 volumes.

The foundation will also publish small articles in local newspapers and organize cultural and literary events. The main purpose is to educate the public about our vast culture and history.

Funds will be required for the preparation, publication, and distribution of these books. Funds will also be required for raising awareness via newspapers, media, and events.

For the beginning years, Haik and Hasmik Byurat, who are the founders of this foundation, provided and will provide most of the funds. If the foundation is able to accomplish all above noted goals, then in the far future the foundation may expand its works to introduce other writers' literary works to further educate the public.

The organization will distribute the books to all libraries and Universities which have Armenian Studies programs.

Smbat Byurat

Brief Biography

Smbat Byurat was born on March 3rd, 1862 in Zeitun. He received his elementary education there and then continued his education in Sorbonne, France. He attended and graduated from Jarankavorats school in Jerusalem.

In 1880-1882 he was appointed as the head principal of Zaitun’s school district (130 schools). He starts writing and in 1885 publishes his first book, which was about the geography and history of the region. He marries to Yevdoxia who was one of the teachers at the same school. In 1886 she gives birth to his first son Vaghinak. He traveled a lot setting up schools all around the region.

1890 he and his pregnant wife are arrested and jailed in accusation of advocating uprising Armenians against the Turkish sultan. The jailers were brutal. They tortured him and his wife. His second son was born in jail during the same year. Yevdoxia was hit so many times to the head, that she became blind. Westerners put pressure on Turkish sultan and they free Yevdoxia from jail. Smbat and 48 other political prisoners were kept in prison until end of 1895. After he was freed, he relocates to Constantinople (Istanbul). He publishes his first newspaper “Nor Or” (New Day). In 1896 he realizes that sultan’s police are after him again and he takes his family and flees to Egypt. From 1896 to 1906 he lives in Cairo and Alexandria.

He was in charge of the education in both of the cities. He continues to publish “New Day” newspaper and “Phonics” magazine. 1906 through 1907 he lives and educates in Bulgaria. 1907 he was caught by spies and arrested again by the sultan’s police. On the way to Constantinople, news arrives that the Young Turks overthrew sultan, and Smbat was able to escape. Smbat knew, and was friends with, many Young Turk leaders. By the end of the year he was elected and became the first Armenian senator in Turkish parliament. He did not expect that the Young Turks will follow sultan’s same policy against Armenians - which was to clear the Western Armenian region from all Armenians.

Smbat Byurat

From 1908 to 1914 he writes and publishes over 40 books and at the same time actively fights in political wars to free Armenia. During World War I, Turks take care of “The Armenian Question,” by exiling and killing over two million Armenians from Turkish-Armenia. Smbat Byurat, along with most of the Armenian political and cultural leaders, was arrested and exiled in April of 1915. All were massacred; according to rumors, he was stoned to death. His last words sent to his sons were: “I am a dead man now, forget about my body, and save my writings”.

Years passed, and his sons publish his books in Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. After World War II, his sons immigrate to Armenian Republic, which was part of USSR. His sons tried, but could not do anything to ignite memory of their father. They establish the “Smbat Byurat Archive” in the cultural ministry of Armenia.

It is fair to state that his own people forgot Smbat Byurat’s literary contribution and heroic fall. Artists would sing one of Smbat Byurat’s famous songs, yet it was recognized as a folk song with an unknown writer. His heirs did not fight the Soviet bureaucracy, and in 1980 they immigrated to the United States.

Years later, Armenia became an independent country again.

In November 28, 1997, in New Zaitun region of Yerevan (the capital city of Armenia), the Community of New Zaitun named a public school in Smbat Byurat’s name. On simple invitation cards are the last words of this big man: “I am a dead man now, forget about my body and save my writings”. These words arrived to us in late 1999 and now it is our duty to make sure that his writings will be published and saved. 

Wikipedia Article here

Smbat’s School

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November 28, 1997, in New Zaitun region of Yerevan (the capital city of Armenia), the Community of New Zaitun names a public school in Smbat Byurat’s name. On simple invitation cards are the last words of this big man: “I am a dead man now, forget about my body and save my writings”. These words arrived to us in late 1999 and now it is our duty to make sure that his writings will be published and saved.

Like every school in Armenia, this school too, was completely in financial bad shape. Government did not do anything to fix the buildings, take care of the interior or exterior of the school and take care of its teachers.

Our family was very proud to finally see in Armenia a recognition and something attached to the name of Smbat Byurat. We decided to finance each year’s graduation ceremony in the school called “Last Bell”. Haik and Hasmik Byurat from there own personal accounts make donations toward this ceremony since 1998. Donation includes financial prizes to best male, best female students, and best teacher. Principal of the school sends a video of each year’s “Last Bell” ceremony.

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Last years, Mr. Stephen (Steve) Lazarian was involved with his organization helping students and school by donating desks, clothing, and shoes and a lot more other things. Steve is one of those unique individuals who devotes his life to helping others. During one of his visits to Armenia, he found out about Smbat Byurat’s School and about the existence of Byurat family in the United States. He received our family information from the school’s principal and found us in USA. Short of the story is that his grandfather and Smbat Byurat were brothers.

In 2002, school celebrated Smbat Byurat’s 140-th Birthday. Steve donated Smbat Byurat’s hand painted portrait to the school. See portrait opening ceremony picture on this page.

Looks like the school will get complete makeover before 2006-2007 school year start and we hope that the school will become enjoyable place for over 1200 students next year.

Due to governmental bureaucracy, reconstruction of the school has been delayed until Spring of 2008.

Vaghinak Byurat

Brief Biography

Smbat Byurat

Vaghinak Byurat was born 1886 in Zaitun (Small city in Turkish-Armenia region). He received his preliminary education at a local school, then in Cairo and Alexandria. In 1903, he entered Mkitarian School in Venice, Italy. He learned to speak, read and write Latin, Italian, and French, as well as learned publishing and lithography. 

He worked throughout Europe, becoming better in foreign languages and lithography. He lived in Rome, Paris, and Marcel. 1907 he returns to Constantinople (Istanbul) and established the “Modern Lithography” Publishing house. He published all of Smbat Byurat’s books and many famous writers’ works. He started translating European literary works to Armenian and publishing them also and started distributing these books worldwide. During this time, he visited much of Europe, Asia, and America. He survived on board the famous “Titanic” sinking when he traveled to America for the first time.

During the 1915 massacre, he survived by hiding in a Turkish neighbor’s house. Leaving his family in Constantinople, he escaped from Turkey in 1925. From 1925 to 1946 he lived in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Married in 1933, his only son was born in 1934, who he named Smbat in his fathers memory. He continued publishing and teaching and in the mid-1940’s, he wrote “Arunot Tashkinak” (Bloody Handkerchief) and “Sheyki Vortin” (Sheik’s son).

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In 1946, he repatriated to Armenia; however, soon he was disappointed by the Soviet regime and left his career as a teacher. During this period he wrote the first edition of his autobiography and memories of the Western Armenian Intelligentsia. He was unable to publish any of his or his father’s works and ended up archiving all these works in the cultural ministry of Armenia. Only in 1965, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Armenian genocide, he published Smbat Byurat’s short biography in a magazine. His major dream was to see his father’s works published, but did not succeed. He died in 1972 with the hope in his heart. 

 

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