Palu – Song and dance

From Houshamadyan (editor's note)

Singing and dancing are inseparable parts of the lives of people from Palu, be they from the town or the villages. Song is present when the villager works on the land, sows and reaps; it is present at festivals and during joyful events; it is present in homes during celebrations and parties. It is the expression of all human emotion in the form of love songs, songs of mourning or lullabies. Palu is rich in all these and all this forms part of the district’s Armenian legacy.

This is the place to note that people of Palu, when writing about their district in their various works, outline a clear general picture in which it is possible to see that in the same district the centuries-old Kurdish-Armenian coexistence has had deep influences in different areas of culture. Among these are song and dance. Its true that the person from Palu sings many popular songs originating in the district in the local Armenian dialect, but has also adopted Armenian songs from the surrounding areas and towns into his repertoire. But even more than this, the Palu Armenian – especially the countryman – sings in Kurdish. Bedros Alahaidoyan is correct when he writes ‘two peoples like the Armenians and Kurds, living for centuries as neighbours and continually interacting with each other, will inevitably show naturally absorbed mutual influences…’[1]

However the presence of Kurdish or Turkish songs is very seldom recalled in Armenian memorial books. More than this when, in some memorial books the authors record the words of Armenian songs and occasionally provide their musical notation, the same effort is generally missing in the case of those in Kurdish or Turkish. In the final analysis these books were created in the post-genocide years, when the dominant atmosphere was that of national reconstruction. In other words whatever was natural in the ancestral town or village – in the case of the people of Palu their singing in Kurdish – had, after the genocide, become insufferable. Its true that Armenians continued to sing these songs in the diaspora, but there were ‘internal’ difficulties that they tried to keep away from their daily lives. For the same reason, in other written works, such as the memorial books about Palu, Kurdish songs are not to be found. References to singing in Kurdish are absent especially from those chapters directly concerning the songs and festivals in Palu. But they form part of the Palu Armenian’s – especially the countryman’s – daily life. In this sense indirect indications are always present when certain authors tell of personal experiences taken from their lives in Palu.[2]

All the songs that are presented in this page are the fruit of the long years of marvellous collection work by the musicologist Bedros Alahaidoyan. The article below concerning the songs of Palu is also mainly a synthesis of the information contained in his book. They appeared in the volume titled Palu’s (and district) musical-ethnographical collection (in Armenian, 2009). The great majority of these songs from Palu are sung by Maro Nalbandian. The editors of Houshamadyan would like to express their thanks Bedros Alahaidoyan, who agreed to place the materials in his collection at our disposal.

Bedros Alahaidoyan

He was born in Beirut to a family of survivors from Urfa. He graduated from the local Nshan Palandjian Djemaran. He has lived from many years in Belgium, and graduated from Louvain University with a degree in pharmacology, then from the State University of Brussels as a musicologist. He took up a position in the Brussels state radio station. From 1985 until 1994 he has devoted his free days and holidays to looking for aged survivors of 1915 in the Armenian communities in Europe, as well as in Syria and the United States, visiting Armenian old people’s and retirement homes. Apart from the ethnographical songs of Palu, his recordings on tape contain a large collection of traditional songs from Van, Kessab, Dikranagerd (Diyarbekir), as well as Kurdish and a number of songs in that language. He now lives in Glendale (USA) and writes articles and responses about Armenian music, and publishes short studies in the Armenian press.

He is the author of Palu’s (and district) musical-ethnographical collection (in Armenian), Published by Trazarg, Glendale, California 2009, 448 pages, containing two CDs, price $75. The author’s contact address is:

Maro Nalbandian

She was born in Aleppo to a family from Palu. Her father, Dikran Nalbandian, was a fine singer and knew the songs of the old country. His brother Aram had been a leading chorister, teacher and a good musician in Palu, immigrating to the United States in 1910. Her other uncle (father’s brother), Karnig Nalbandian had been a deacon. During her school years in Aleppo, Maro’s teachers always encouraged her predeliction for song and dance.

Maro learnt the old ethnographical songs and dance songs at home by hearing them. According to her, only her father and uncles hadn’t been her sources for songs. She always learnt them from her mother, grandmother, other people from Palu and from the elderly. Her father had learnt dance songs from Palu from his forefathers. Her parents always attended weddings, had sung and danced at them, while her uncle Karnig had always participated in the ceremonies of dressing the bridegroom and, with his songs and strong voice, had always enriched wedding celebrations.

Palu’s wedding celebrations and the songs sung at them

The initiative for the solemnising of a marriage always comes from the bridgroom’s parents. They first visit the prospective bride’s house and ask her parents for her hand in marriage. When agreement is reached between the two families, then the promise (khosk-gab) is made which can never be broken. The groom’s family visits the girl’s family once more a few weeks later, this time taking the prospective groom with them. A party is held on this occasion, songs are sung and the priest blesses the token, usually a ring or necklace. The girl and boy are declared to be engaged.[3] During this first part of the celebrations there are three dances songs sung in Palu: ‘Get up and dance’ (Bar elek),  ‘Brother Kok’ (Kok akhbar) and ‘Palu Laz dance’ (Palui laz bar).[4]

Get up and dance

sung by Maro Nalbandian

Bar ele՛k, bar ele՛k,
Aghchig(k) nazerov, dghak sazerov,
Bar ele՛k, bar ele՛k :

Bagh aghpiri yezerk,
Zov hovi shuki dag`
Bar ele՛k, bar ele՛k,
Aghchig(k) nazerov, dghak sazerov,
Bar ele՛k, bar ele՛k:

Boyt partsr chinar
Chukhd hiuserov aghchig,
Bar ele՛k, bar ele՛k,
Salvoren egav` hoknadz u kerdnenadz,
Bar ele՛k, bar ele՛k:

Sevdayov aghchig, bak me das,
I՞nch g’elli, i՞nch g’elli.
Bidi das ne` hima dur,
Moret mena` ush g’elli.
Bidi das ne` hima dur,
Ergukis murazn elli.

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 254-5
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 254-5

’Palu’s Laz dance’ (Palui laz bare)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [6]

Nvaketse՛k laz barin,
Togh khagha Narin-Narin,
Ha՛i Narin-Narin,
Nvaketse՛k laz barin:

Palui khortonere,
Khorod en aghchignere,
Davul, zurna ge zarnen,
Irank g’ihnan khaghere:

Aghchi, tu shad sireli,
Gerdanleghet siretsi,
Boyit-bosit yes ghurban,
Madanis kizi nshan:

Mazit meg tel yes g’uzim,
Partsis dage yes tnim,
Kishernere garodnam,
Mazit hede ge khagham:

Source: Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 269
Source: Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 269

The date for the wedding is set and, seven days prior to it, parties begin, organised by the groom’s family. During this entire promise and engagement period the girl and boy never meet one another. The dance songs ‘Father, mother, get me married’ and its companion ‘Three feet’ (without words) are those sung by both families during these celebrations.

‘Father, mother, get me married’ (Apo, mamo, garke zis)

sung by Maro Nalbandian

Ketsink, ketsink, heratsank,
Yaroch teran modetsank,
Desank ture gisapats,
Meda(nk) ari(nk) taja hats:

Apo, mamo, garke՛ zis,
Choli deghun mi՛ dar zis,
Dane choler (es)banne zis:

Apo, mamo, garke՛ zis,
Chulhag deghun mi՛ dar zis,
Makok guire, dzedze zis:

Apo, mamo, garke՛ zis,
Choban deghu dvek zis,
Sev martu gat khemtsene,
Ser u madzun gertsene:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 207-8

‘Three feet’ (Yerek vodk)

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 230-1
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 230-1

In the town of Palu, one day before the wedding, on the Friday night, girls and newly married women all arrive at the bride’s house where, in a festival atmosphere, the bride’s hands are painted with henna. This is the occasion when the much-loved Palu song ‘Palu town has been built’ is sung.

‘Palu town has been built’ (Palu kaghake shinver e)

sung by Maro Nalbandian

Palu kaghak shinver e,
Yergate tur terver e,
Akh, esi, mednem nerse,
Yares meche gorer e:

Aghavniin djermage,
Aghchi m’ener es naze,
Shad bezdiguts sirer em,
Tejar e es zadvile:

Akh g’enim arin ku ka,
Djigers karin ku ka,
I՞nch enim es aghegan,
Kergel bakniles ku ka:

Aghavnin zargin, ingav,
Tev u tigunke guirav,
Hei m’al esi` (meg) desnim,
Ink iran odki elav:

Akh g’enim, arin ku ka,
Djigers karin ku ka,
I՞nch enim es aghegan,
Arnel bargiles ku ka:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 205-6
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 205-6

The bride is taken to the baths on Saturday and is bathed. That evening she is dressed in her wedding clothes. At the same time the groom is led to the baths by his friends where, in a happy atmosphere they bathe as a group. Then the groom is taken to the barber; after that they all go to his house, where the happy process of dressing the groom begins. The priest will also be there to bless all the clothes. Then the same priest (the role might be taken over by the sacristan or teacher) begins the chant the first verse of ‘Khorhurt khorin’. Then the wedding clothes are picked up one by one and, accompanied by joyful songs in praise of the groom, are handed to the groom’s boys – those who take the groom’s orders for that one day only – who in their turn begin to dress him. [10] During this last dressing rite the song ‘In praise of the groom’ or ‘Blessing of the clothes’ (Pesin kovke or Hantertsorhnek). [11]

‘In praise of the groom’ or ‘Blessing of the clothes’ (Pesin kovke, Hantertsorhnek)

sung by Maro Nalbandian

Ganchetsek derdere, ortnetsek latere,
Hanetsek artar latere,
Hakutsek meghavor latere,
Esek, esek shenafor:

Vayele, shenafor,
Hakni shenafor,
Es mer takavorin
Zebne shenafor:

Vayele, shenafor,
Hakni shenafor,
Es mer takavorin
Yeleg shenafor:

Vayele, shenafor,
Hakni shenafor,
Es mer takavorin
Shalvar shenafor:

Vayele, shenafor,
Hakni shenafor,
Es mer takavorin
Keosteg (kesteg) shenafor:

Khengenii dzarn er dzaghger,
Hairig egur, zavaget des,
Haker, gaber e varti bes:
Katsek, esek ir mairigan,
Or ka desna ir siregan:

Ertam pndrem dzaghig sirun,
Kaghim, perim, mairig sirun:
Esek shenafor:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 200-1
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 200-1

Parunag Topalian – from Palu Okhu village – points out, in his memoirs, that the song ‘In praise of the groom’ is sung in Turkish in his village. An example of the words of the song may be found in his memoirs. [13]

Çağırın keşişi,
Görsün bu işi,
Göydürsün (giydirsin) binişi,
Mübarek olsun:

Elinde tası
Başındaki fesi
Bağlayın başı
Mübarek olsun:

Its a custom that, in the villages of Palu, after this dressing, the godfather and the groom’s boys bring a tree about 1.5 metres (4 feet 9 inches) high with seven thin branches at the top, on which strings of apples, pears and raisins are hung. All the ends of the branches are joined together and a large pomegranate secured at the joint that in its turn is decorated with curled ribbons.[14] The tree symbolises the groom’s and bride’s fruitfulness. Under it the wedding guests begin to sing:

Ertam perim kok me gakav`
Vor ka kove dzarn e dzaghger:
Hars u pesan dzar dngetsin,
Egek kovink dzarn e dzaghger... [15]

This is immediately followed by a song praising the groom:

Takvor i՜nch perim ku nman,
Ku gananch arevut nman,
Te or perim garmir varter,
Chen nmanir tushit garmir.
Te or perim chori u tsi,
Chen nmanir boyit ergan.
Te or perim hars me aghgeg
An bid nmani srdit takavor: [16]

This is also the time when they sing ‘The song of taking the bride from her father’s house’.

‘The song of taking the bride from her father’s house’ (Harse hor dunen hanelu yerke)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [17]

Yars er gainer denderin meche,
Inch kergelu parag mechke,
Dasdur arnim, ellam kheche,
A՜kh kergelu parag mechke:

Esir g’arnim, zis khapetsir,
Seret sevda (e)rir, zis varetsir:

Mer dun tser dan timats-timats,
Herik ines achok imats,
Im serdiges kizi menats:

Eres, eres, garmir eres,
Mazt erest i var es perer,
Madzun g’uzim, tan ge peres,
Sere siradzit ge danis (danes),
Zis ge toghes mei mel g’arnes,
Tadastanin ellis severes:

After these songs of praise, the groom receives the sword that had been blessed, that metaphorically is the weapon with which he, the groom-king, will defend the queen-bride. He also receives a scented apple wrapped in a silk handkerchief, symbolising the birth of children.[18] Then those around him begin giving him good wishes.

At the end of the Saturday afternoon the wedding party goes in procession to the bride’s home to fetch her. It is the custom that they find the door to the house firmly closed in their faces. At this, the godfather promises the bride’s brother or sister a gift. The doors are then opened wide and the party rushes inside. Then the veiled bride is seated on a horse. Happiness and sadness are mixed together, as the girl’s time of departure from her parental home is emphasised. The musicians playing drums and pipes (davul zurna) take this opportunity of playing the saddest tunes. People often cry at this point.[19] Sad songs are sung, such as ‘Don’t cry, Mairam’ (Mi lar Mairam) which the people of Palu also have a Turkish version of.[20] 

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 222-3
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 222-3

‘They’ve come, they’re taking her away’ (Egan, ge danin)

sung by Maro Nalbandian[21]

Egan ge danin, zenkelo (zenkelov),
Egan ge danin, zenkelo,
Garmir solerov, zenkalo:

Egan ge danin,
Danin, togh danin,
Esor ge danin,
Zadgin ge peren:

Egan ge danin,

Lalov, oghpalov,
Klukh gaber en
Pelpuli (bilbili) shalov.

Ekin ge gten,
Or g’esen ort e,
Latsek, oghpatsek,
Dardznit oghp e:

Khndzor kaghetsek,
Kodin gabetsek,
Gamurch (garmudj) nedetsek,
Harsnugn entsutsek:

Egan ge danin, zenkelo,
Egan ge danin, zenkelo,
Garmir shorerov, zenkalo:

Egan ge danin,
Danin, togh danin,
Esor ge danin,
Zadgin ge peren:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 213
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 213

Don’t cry, Mairam’ (Mi lar, Mairam)

Mi՛ lar, Mairam, achvid g’aviri,
Kez bezdig garkoghin denagn aviri:

Mairam chader zarger Orma lernere,
Meg tin surun g’ardzer, meg tin karnere:

Alua egan ergan orere,
Arnim siradz yares, ellam sarere:

Sarerun, tsorerun bagh-bagh cherere,
Khemim bagh-bagh cherer, bargim sheknere:

Mairam tonir gebots (gbtsuts), dinere mukh er,
Achvin zavrur kashets, honkere tukh er:

Mi՛ lar, Mairam, achvid g’aviri,
Kez bezdig garkoghin denagn aviri:

Ororu churn antsank, elank i D(T)arman
Ur or aghgeg mi gar` anunn er Mairam:

-Mairam, ghurban, moret yailan u՞rdegh e:
-Vazk aghpiri bagh churerun modern e:

Mi՛ lar, Mairam, achvid g’aviri,
Kez bezdig garkoghin denagn aviri:

Grayian notes that there is another sad song sung on the same occasion called ‘Jarjarum’. According to this author, the words to the song belong to Azarig Koloyian, who was from Palu’s Tset village and is a Hnchag activist in the area. [23] Boghos Melikian also recalls this song in his memoirs, which are concerned his childhood and youth spent in Palu’s Nerkhi village. [24] Grayian also recalls the song’s words, in which we find the refrain from ‘Don’t cry Mairam’ – ‘Kez bezdig garkoghin denagn aviri:’

Jarjarum, jarjarum,
Egan danoghnid,
Achki hanoghid,
Jarjarum, jarjarum,
Mi՛ lar, harsnug, mi lar,
Achkert avrvin,
Kez bzdig garkoghin
Dnagn aviri:
Yes dzaghig em mal g’uzim,
Mechks parag shal g’uzim,
Yerp ur gesrantses knatsi,
Djezrig kondra g’uzim: [25]

This sad part of the wedding ceremonies comes to an end and the whole procession, singing and dancing, goes to the church. Both the bride and groom are mounted on horses, with the groom’s going first, followed by that of the bride. In church there is a long religious ceremony. Rev Harutiun Sarkisian writes that in many villages the groom’s and bride’s preparations all take place on Sunday evening. The whole wedding party spends the night eating, drinking, singing and dancing. At dawn on the following day they all go, in a great procession to the village church. [26]
The next part of the wedding celebrations consists of merry-making and feasting. It should be said that the song sun most is ‘Zartar kuruge’ (‘Zambure’) which, in a way, is the Palu ‘anthem’.[27]

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 216-217
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 216-7

‘Sister Zartar (Zambure)’(Zartar kuruge, Zambure)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [28]

Kedinn antsner es zambure,
Vai, hatsi tatsan er zambure,
Ganach khod er es zambure,
Akh, anush hod er es zambure:

Zartar kurug, Djuvarn u՞r e,
Akh, Zartar kurug, Djuvarn u՞r e,
Yes esi m’ertar zambure:

Es dari zambure vad e,
Akh, zamburin mushdarin shad e,
Zamburin mushdarin shad e:

Akh, de ye՞p inim achok imats,
Djebiges kharshlegh(kh) chi menats,
Kulli tser oghure knats:

Aghchi, eger kulban g’uze,
Kulban dvi, bak m’al g’uze,
Me mi dvi, hem el g’uze:

Kedinn antsner es zambure,
Or chi pusner es lerdanke,
Mez chi tsker es tsordanke:

Aghgeg es, aghn i՞nch g’enes,
Gelor es, maghn i՞nch g’enes,
Gelor es, maghn i՞nch g’enes:

Haker eir garmir khade,
Ge lmaneir nran hade,
Ge lmaneir nran hade:

Kaghaki aghayi surun,
Zartarn engav gangrun goghun,
Zartarn engav gangrun goghun:

Haker er, garmerder er,
Barger er, krdener er,
Barger er, krdener er:

Gainer es paghchin badin,
Ge genches agha deghin,
Ge genches agha deghin:

Uy, mi՛ ener, mi՛ner, mi՛ner
M`olerdir Palua dener,
M`olerdir Palua dener:

The people sing and dance. Along with ‘Zambur’, ‘Brother Kok’ (Kok akhbare) and ‘Three feet’ (Yerek vodk) can be heard during the party.

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 272-274
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 272-4

‘Brother Kok’ (Kok akhbare)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [29]

Kok aghbarn e, dandz e perer,
Hos chem arner, dune per:
U՛y, Kok aghbar, u՛y Kok aghbar,
Sari buyukhle Kok aghybar:

Esor dergun inchu՞ dapar,
Indzi ghayru veru՞n khapvar:
U՛y, Kok aghbar, u՛y...

Eger g’arnim, g’esen` khapvav,
Achkes idormine vakhtsav:
U՛y, Kok aghbar, u՛y

Then the groom’s mother appears, who dances a solo to the tune of ‘Mother-in-law’s naz dance’. It is said that, during this dance, she puts a round tray, filled with bread, on her head and goes towards the bride and groom, who are sitting next to each other. Concerning this, Bedros Alahaidoyan writes, ‘This delicately constructed and silent solo ceremonial dance performed by the mother is a blessing-gift prepared by her to the newly-married couple, her reverent dance to bread, placing it in the newly-established nest.’ [30] Songs concerning the couple are sung, ‘They took Haigo by night’ (Haigon darin kisherov), ‘What was the garden what was the wood? (Paghn i՞nch er, paghchan i՞nch er), ‘Let’s go to our vineyard, darling’ (Ertank mer ekin, yar), ‘Dal dala’, ‘Hairigin al’ (To father too) and ‘Tamzara’. Many Turkish and Kurdish songs are also sung among the Armenian ones. [31]

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 276-7
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 276-7

‘Mother-in-law’s naz dance’ (Gesurin naz bare)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [32]

Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 220
Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 220

‘They took Haigo by night’ (Haigon darin kisherov)

sung by Maro Nalbandian

Haigon darin kisherov,
Bad ge dzagen shisherov:
Gaini՛r, sevgiulius, gaini՛r,
Gaini՛r, cheyranes, gaini՛r:

Lusingan olor-molor,
Yes baknim dzedzit polor:
Gaini՛r, sevgiulius, gaini՛r,
Gaini՛r, cheyranes, gaini՛r:

Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 225
Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 225

‘What was the garden? What was the wood?’(Paghn i՞nch er, paghchan i՞nch er)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [34]

Paghn i՞nch er, paghchan i՞nch er,
Aghchi, ko sevdan i՞nch er,
Tsadz dzaren partser bedugh, yar,
Chim hasnir, faidan i՞nch er:

Es deghan el ge lmaner, yar,
Kenkile dal ge lmaner,
Egav antsav mer trnen, yar,
G’eses` zar peg ge lmaner:

Aghgeg aghchig me ellis, yar,
Or ka dune chellis,
Giulvart paghchanern ellis, yar,
Neshanadzit dzotse yeghnis:

Eler gainer partser degh, yar,
Tevis mantashan negh e.
Ur vor g’ertas tez egur, yar,
Kidtsir or sirdes negh e:

Chukhd partsoghe kar g’elli, yar,
Eli dghan yar g’elli՞,
Elar katsir gharib degh, yar,
Eskheder genal g’elli՞:

Kaladze khaz ge lmaner, yar,
Boyn al bayaz ge lmaner,
Erne՜g dzotsit bargoghin, yar,
Tsemern amar ge lmaner:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 258-259
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 258-9

‘Let’s go to our vineyard, darling’ (Ertank mer ekin, yar)

sung by Maro Nalbandian[35]

Ertank mer ekin, yar,
Dandzerun degun,
Dandzen er zodun, yar,
Yes (Es) mera hodun:

Ertank mer ekin, yar,
Khendzornun degun,
Khndzorn er zodun, yar,
Yes (Es) mera hodun:

Ai aghchi chan, usga՞ ku kas,
Dandzerun/dandzenun degun, ama՜n,
Dandzerun/dandzenun degun, ama՜n,
Dandzere kodis mane-man,
Yes mera hodun, ama՜n,
Yes mera hodun, ama՜n:

Agha dgha, usga՞ ku kas,
Khendzornun degun, ama՜n,
Khendzornun degun, ama՜n,
Khendzornun kodis mane-man,
Yes mera hodun, ama՜n,
Yes mera hodun, ama՜n:

A՛kh, enkabab, usga՞ ku kas,
Salornun degun, ama՜n,
Salornun degun, ama՜n,
Saran inim kezi hairan,
Salornun degun, ama՜n,
Khendzornun degun, ama՜n,
Dandzerun degun, ama՜n:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 246-7
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 246-7

‘Dal Dala’ (Dal dala)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [36]

Dal dala, dal dala,
Dal boyit ghurban:

Mechkuget parag er,
Kergelut hairan,
Yereset garmir er,
Baknelut ghurban:

Or g’esen Istampul,
Sirdes ge tenta,
Vakhnam ertas, chi kas,
Dushmanes khenta:

Dal dala, dal dala,
Dal boyit ghurban...

Ketsi posdakhanan,
Namag tseketsi,
Dasnhink or sbasetsi,
Djughabe chari:

Aghchi, Yeghso chan,
Posdadjin egav,
Goghagtset khabarner perav:

Dal dala, dal dala …

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 252-3
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 252-3

‘To father too’ (Hairigin al)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [37]

Aghchegane` osgi goshig,
Mairigin` ardzat, ama՜n,
Hairigin al emeni me`
Daban chunena...
Che, che, chem. grnar barel,
Maz pabudjes ge djezdjeza,
Anoti pores ge gergera,
Shun gestures ge derdera,
Chem grnar barel :

Aghchgane koshg shinetse՛k,
Mairigin`khonakh, ama՜n,
Hairigin al peladz marak`
Ertig chunena...

Aghchgane faidon pere՛k,
Mairigin` oto, ama՜n,
Hairigin al topal esh mi,
Semer chunena...
Che, che, chem grnar barel...

Aghchgane chukha kelkharg,
Mairigin` yazma, ama՜n,
Hairigin al garmir fes mi,
Piuskiul chunena...

Aghchgane khas gedretse՛k,
Mairigin` atlas, ama՜n,
Hairigin al chukha shalvar,
Uchkhur chunena...
Che, che, chem grnar barel...

Aghchgane khaz dabgetse՛k,
Mairigin` ordek, ama՜n,
Hairigin al anjur abur,
Ham-hod chunena....
Che, che, chem grnar barel...

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 321
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 321

‘Tamzara’ (Tamzara)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [38]

Le, le, le, le, tamzara,
Aghchig, degha ge khagha.
Asor g’esen tamzara,
Aghchig, degha ge khagha:

Veri paghchin dandzere,
Hop-hop g’enen manchere,
Ur vor aghchig me desnen,
Hon ge dzeren fesere:

Tamzara bar baretsek,
Usernit al sharjetsek.
Tamzarayin barere,
Irar gu kan yarere:

Khelkes kelkhes arer a
Et aghgegan mazere.
Tamzarayin varbede,
Keghu, Palu, Kharperte:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 262-3
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 262-3

‘Talilo’ (a part, in Kurdish)

singers – Jeannot Hovsepian and Maro Nalbandian [39]

Talilo, talilo, Seiran e,
Khorte gundan ghurban e,
Medi Seiran mashia,
Zer u kamar tushia:

Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., pp. 330-331
Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., pp. 330-331

‘Kheme-kheme Torevan’ (Kheme-kheme torevan)

sung by Maro Nalbandian[40]

O՛y (Vai), kheme-kheme torevan,
O՛y (Vai), kheme-kheme zozane:

O՛y (Vai), kheme-kheme zozane,
O՛y (Vai), kheme-kheme torevan:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 332-3
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 332-3

‘A՜kh, le khortan’ (A՜kh, le khortan)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [41]

A՜kh, le khortan, le, le, le, le,
Deger em, date em, vai, vai,
Sheg rahan em, le, le, le, le,
Ben hurik em, vai, vai:

Gulshirin em, vai, vai...

Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., pp. 334-335
Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., pp. 334-335

‘Chepne, chepne, govand e’ (Chepne, chepne govand e)

sung by Maro Nalbandian[42]

Chep(e)ne, chepne, chep govand e,
Govand kerte gondan e:

Khashle, khashle, khashle yar e,
Le, le, le, le, govand e:

In Palu town all these ceremonies or merry-making last for two to three days, while in the villages in the district it was usual for them to last almost a complete week.

Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 336
Bedros Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 336

Shrovetide (Paregentan) songs

Shrovetide Thursday is a festival day, people don’t work and the whole day is spent in feasting and celebrations. The Armenian quarters of Palu town begin to live according to the rythms of songs and dances. Musicians get to work there. The inhabitants, especially the girls and women go on to the flat roofs to dance and sing. The atmosphere in the villages is exactly the same. The peasants collect on the flat roofs of their houses or before their doors and dance in groups.

On Saturday the villagers go to their gardens, where long tables will have been set out, food will be brought from the houses; there the singing, playing and dancing continue. The festival lasts for four days – until Sunday, which coincides with Shrovetide itself. [43] The song ‘Beautiful girl, open the door’ (Aghgeg aghchig, ture pats) is sung on this occasion.

‘Beautiful girl, open the door’ (Aghgeg aghchig, ture pats)

sung by Maro Nalbandian[44]

Aghgeg aghchig, ture(t) pats,
Ailelekhes ners mnats,
Yerp vor tser ternen antsa, a՜kh,
Im serdiges ges mnats:

Partser degher zov g’elli,
Ege hayink i՞nch g’elli,
Yes kezme vaz chem antsnir, a՜kh,
Serdit uzadz(e) togh elli (Ergukis murazen elli)

Gatnaghpiur, kare dadjar,
Yes ku hokut ellim djar,
Meran-djashag khosk dvi, a՜kh,
Surp Garabed mezi djar:

Yares aslan ge lmani,
Sari cheiran ge lmani,
Yes in siradzes ari, a՜kh,
Tushmanin sirde airi:

Rev Harutiun Sarkisian points out that there were other songs sung at Shrovetide, only the words of which we know. [45]

Dzngn adzo, dzngn adzo,
Dzngn adzoin knare,
Grbo elir denere,
Grbo elir denere,
De՛s Mroin tshere,
Garmir khtsori bes e,
Garmir khntsori bes e,
Mazere tsoni bes e,
Mazere vosgu bes e,
Mazere vosgu bes e,
Boye chinari bes e,
Nini, nini, nini, ni,
Nini, nini, nini, ni:

Mro Grbon chinar e,
Mro Grbon chinar e,
An ku uzadz lav yarn e,
An ku uzadz lav yarn e,
Erneg kizi vor unis,
Erneg kizi vor unis,
Grboin bes nshanadz,
Grboin bes nshanadz,
Achker uni yeghnigi,
Achker uni yeghnigi,
Sird me uni srpi bes,
Sird me uni srpi bes:


Aghgeg im aghn i՞nch enim,
Glor im maghn i՞nch enim,
Ellam dinern i՞nch enim
Hon desnelu yar chunim:

Yares gharib yergir e,
Ashkharh indzi mut e,
Elin dzarne dzaghger,
Ims` gargude zarger:

Aghgeg gesur, khatun gesur,
Ku es dghut khosk me hastsur,
Is ge toghe g’erta bargi
Medz akhorin komshin mesur:

Mer ture tser tran timats,
Herik enim achok imats,
Djebiges khashlegh che menats,
Polore ku oghuret kenats:

Mer dune page ge lmani,
Mazeres taki ge lmani,
Antsav, knats siraganes,
Kides ki Begi ge lmani:

Rehan tsanetsi, tez me pustsav,
Khabaret egav indzi hasav,
Lsetsi vor garkever es,
Kelukhet ergink hasav:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 227-8
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 227-8

Ascension Day festival songs

In the villages, on the day before Ascension Thursday, seven young girls (generally about 13-14 years of age) are chosen who, holding pitchers (guj), will fill them with water from seven different fountains and also add seven different bunches of flowers to the water as well. They then come to the church straight away, where the water and flowers they’ve brought with them are blessed. Then they begin to distribute them among the houses in the village. On the next day, the same seven girls assemble in a room and begin to draw lots to determine what roles each would adopt. These are: the bride; the person who dances with the bride; tambourine player; singer; collector of presents. Then the group visits various houses where they dance, sing and where the people in the houses distribute their presents. [46]

Mesrob Grayian points out that another version of this custom was used in Palu town. This time the seven girls put the water from seven fountains and seven different flowers in a wide-mouthed vessel and then get together in one of their houses. They enjoy themselves, sing and eat then they tell a younger girl to draw lots for them. Each of the girls has already put a single item belonging to her into the vessel, such as a bead, a ring, a small key, a button etc. Then they begin to sing, together, a verse from  ‘The lot-drawing song’ or some similar one, containing a prediction, be it good or bad. The young girl draws the lots. The prediction made in the song concerns individual girl and the item she has cast into the vessel. [47]

'The lot-drawing song' (Vidjagin yerke)

sung by Maro Nalbandian [48]

Vidjge-vidjag eger e,
Ktan lachgig tseker e,
Shar u shabig haker e,
Eger mecher tser ture/dune:
I՞nch koghnam, kar (karnug) koghnam,
Yotnaghpiren chur koghnam:

Ardig m’unim ashora,
Chur chen idar chrelu,
Dzare djegherov g’uzink,
Aghchign ogherov g’uzink,
Dghhan bekherov g’uzink:

Lusingan pagn icher e,
Pagn arevov letsver e,
Mangig dghan deser e,
Ketser morgan eser e,
Morgan sirde airer e,
Khoch mi ghurban geirer e:

Vidjge-vidjag eger e,
Eger mecher tser ture,
Medz petgen belghur g’uze (guze)
Bezdig petgen agh g’uze (guze),
Sev haven havgit g’uze (guze)
Garmir goven yegh g’uze (guze):

Rev Harutiun Sarkisian also presents the text of a song sung on Ascension Day that has many similarities to the one above. [49]

Vidjage eger mer ture, okh le, le, le, le, le,
Yotn aghpiure chur guze, okh le,
Garmir govun yegh guze, okh le,
Sev havun havgit guze, okh le,
Medz petgen belghur guze, okh le,
Bzdig petgen agh guze, okh le:

Haide, Yaghsa u Mako, okh le,
Parcher tnenk mer pidjin, okh le, le,
Ertank, yerach gatn aghpiur, okh le,
Chur letsnenek menk enge, okh le,
Parcherun mech ou tarnank, okh le,
Ertank meg mel Dogh aghpiur, okh le,
Enge ertank Bagh aghpiur, okh le,
Kamun aghpiur el ertank, okh le,
Sev hadige bagh zulal okh le,
Churn el arnenk u tarnank, okh le,
Ertank keghin Mendz aghpiurn, okh le,
Meghrig churn el chi mornank, okh le...

Yotn aghchig eink ereg le, le heiran le, le
Yotn aghpiren chur perogh le, le,
Darink ed chure Babun le, le,
Der babn orshnets ed chur le, le,
U khmtsutsink Vidjagin le, le,
U soghe ktsink amen dun le, le,
Orshnadz churen mei meg tas le, le,
Dvink enonts vor kharnen le, le,
Madzunin hed khnotsun le, le,
Or orshnvi madzune le, le,
Or yeghn enor shad elli le, le:

Yot gdridj aghgegug le, heiran le, le
Chnari boy unetsogh le, le,
Arnenk ellank sarere le, le,
Barenk megdegh kodiman le, le,
Sarer, tsorer togh khndan le, le,
Mer tsaneren tanbura le, le,
U shentsnenk mer dner le, le,
Varenk, tsanenk mer larere le, le,
Vor da mezi shad perker le, le :

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 234-5
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 234-5

Lullaby- Prayer

This last song is a popular prayer that, as Bedros Alahaidoyan writes, also closely resembles a lullaby, ‘just like the majority of lullabies have become personal and have become the murmurings of prayer’. [50]

’The Palu prayer’(Palui aghotke)

chanted by Sultan mairig Aprahamian [51]

Surp Garabed em knatser,
Odayin meche barger knatser,
Msho Sultan Surp Garabed
Muraz dver, chem imatser:

Surp Garabed khoran-khoran,
Meche g’ororvi oske orran,
Saghmos g’esen miaperan,
Yote klukh Avedaran:

Surp Garabed madnetsin,
Kaiseru kaghken hanetsin,
Msho suine gainetsutsin,
Musho Sultan Surp Garabed,
Musho Sultan Surp Garabed,
Musho Sultan Surp Garabed:

Surp Garabed partsr degh hi,
Djampa uni volor-molor,
Chors goghn al chagh u djugh i,
Amen bdugh dardi tegh i:
Yayavorin parev gu da,
Tsuiavorin djughab gu da:

Muraz dvogh Surp Garabed,
Msho Sultan Surp Garabed:

Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 397
Alahaidoyan, op. cit., p. 397
  • [1] Bedros Alahaidoyan, Palu’s (and district) musical-ethnographical collection (in Armenian), Trazarg Publishers, Glendale, California, 2009, page 55.
  • [2] Concerning this, see, for example, Parunag Topalian, My ancestral village of Okhu (in Armenian), published by Hairenik, Boston, 1943, page 121.
  • [3] Boghos Melikian, With paternal breath (in Armenian), published by Hamazkayin, Beirut, 1969, p. 281. Mesrob Grayian, Palu: scenes taken from Palu life, memoirs, poetry and prose (in Armenian), published by Catholicossate of Cilicia, 1965, page 292.
  • [4] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 43.
  • [5] Ibid., page 254.
  • [6] Ibid., page 269.
  • [7] Ibid., page 207-208.
  • [8] Ibid., page 230-231.
  • [9] Ibid., page 205-206.
  • [10] Rev Harutiun Sarkisian (Alevor), Palu: its customs, educational and intellectual state and dialect (in Armenian), Sahag-Mesrob Press, Cairo, 1932, page 3.
  • [11] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 43-44.
  • [12] Ibid., page 200-201.
  • [13] Topalian, op. cit., page 44-45.
  • [14] Sarkisian, op. cit., page 4.
  • [15] Ibid., page 5.
  • [16] Ibid.
  • [17] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 222-223.
  • [18] Sarkisian, op. cit., page 6.
  • [19] Ibid., page 3.
  • [20] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 45-46, 217.
  • [21] Ibid., page 213.
  • [22] Ibid., page 215.
  • [23] Grayian, op. cit., page 300-301.
  • [24] Melikian, op. cit., page 282.
  • [25] Grayian, op. cit., page 301.
  • [26] Sarkisian, op. cit., page 6.
  • [27] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 46.
  • [28] Ibid., page 272-274.
  • [29] Ibid., page 276-277.
  • [30] Ibid., page 221.
  • [31] Ibid., page 47-49, 55.
  • [32] Ibid., page 220.
  • [33] Ibid., page 225.
  • [34] Ibid., page 258-259.
  • [35] Ibid., page 246-247.
  • [36] Ibid., page 252-253.
  • [37] Ibid., page 321.
  • [38] Ibid., page 262.
  • [39] Ibid., page 331.
  • [40] Ibid., page 332-333.
  • [41] Ibid., page 334-335.
  • [42] Ibid., page 336.
  • [43] Grayian, op. cit., page 341-342. Sarkisian, op. cit., page 21-22, 24.
  • [44] Ibid., page 227.
  • [45] Sarkisian, op. cit., page 22-23.
  • [46] Ibid., page 39-41.
  • [47] Grayian, op. cit., page 360-361.
  • [48] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 233.
  • [49] Sarkisian, op. cit., page 40-41.
  • [50] Alahaidoyan, op. cit., page 396-398.
  • [51] Ibid., page 397.