What a Coincidence!

What a Coincidence!


                                                                                                By Ayfer Tuzcu Ünsal
                                                                                                Istanbul, Turkey


As you know the houses that are next to Hasan Süzer Museum (formerly the house of Garuj Efendi Karamanukian, a very wealthy businessman) were restored and one of them became the Toy Museum.  Last October 2012, I had the opportunity to visit the area with Armen Aroyan and I really appreciated that fact that the area was being renovated.  In May 2013, Armen Aroyan brought another group to Gaziantep and took them to the Toy Museum.  He knew that the mansion housing the Toy Museum had belonged to the Jebejian family before 1915.  He sought out the director of the museum and told him that the grandfather of Alidz Agbabian (an author of children’s books) was born in this house.  Armen asked, “ If I bring her books, would you put them in the exhibition?”  He said he would be very happy to and I agreed to make arrangements to have them delivered there.


What a coincidence!  Before 1915, the house, located in the Armenian quarter, had belonged to the Jebejian family.  Now, almost 100 years later, a granddaughter, Alidz, has her books of children’s stories housed in this Toy Museum.  I think this is a great opportunity to make peace.



I searched for Alidz on the Internet and I liked her work.  Alidz was born in Aleppo – the Jebejian family had settled there in 1915. Alidz grew up in Beirut and subsequently, immigrated to the United States in 1975.  She is a strikingly attractive woman.  She says that after she gave birth to her children, she wanted to tell them Armenian stories and fairy tales and started to do research on them, adding costumes and instruments to make them interesting.  Alidzs says, that by telling the children these traditional tales, she wanted them to discover the characters and traditions of Armenians.


According to Alidz, the sources of Armenian tales are centered on the Lake Van region, which is the heart of Anatolia.  I understand that Armenian people believe that the water sources of the lake are sacred.  They also think that because of this, the tales and the music were born there.  I was very touched personally that the Lake Van area was the basis of mythology, tales, and stories and music.


Alidz, on her web page says, “The walls of our house were covered with melodies of various instruments and songs.”  When I read this, I thought that this family had a deep interest in music and the arts.  The Toy Museum is full of music also.  I wish I could find a way to listen to this music.


I want to tell you a few things about Alidz’s tales.  Her stories were gathered from Aintabtsi grandmothers and grandfathers who told her these tales, stories and poems.  One of these is the story about fire and water and another is a story that tells the children how to be strong. The message from yet another is: Tell me who your friend is and I’ll tell you who you are.  This is a great way to convey these messages to young children.  Maybe I can explain it this away – when the children read these things they learn to make judgments and reach the truth.  I have to also tell you the books are beautifully illustrated so the children can visualize the stories.

“God Bless your hands, Alidz.  You did a magnificent job! I hope they will exhibit your books.  I hope and wish also that they will translate them into Turkish.”
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