Smyrna, pre-1915. From left: Vosgi’s brother (name unknown), Yeghis Mgrdichian, Hagop Mgrdichian, Vosgi Mgrdichian (later Rapalian/Rafayelian).

Silva Avedisian Collection - Athens

06.04.2020, translator: Hrant Gadarigian

These artifacts of memory were collected during the Houshamadyan workshop held in Athens on November 30, 2019. This page was produced in collaboration with the Athens periodical Armenika and the Hamazkayin Union.

Silva Avedisian’s mother’s family was from Bergama (North of Symrna/Izmir). Her great grandmother was Yeghis (Yeghisapet) Mgrdichian, and the name of the latter’s husband is unknown. Yeghis had three children - two sons and a daughter. We only know the name of one son - Hagop. The daughter was Vosgi; the grandmother of Silva Avedisian.

Vosgi and Yeghis immigrated to Greece in the early 1920s. Before they moved, one of Vosgi’s brothers fell ill and died. The other brother, as well as Yeghis’s brother, were deported and killed during the 1915 Genocide. Vosgi was married, and her husband (whose name is unknown), was also killed, but we don’t know if it happened during the Genocide or afterwards.

Vosgi and her mother first settled in the Greek town of Stilida and later moved to Athens. Vosgi married again in Athens. Her new husband was Antreas Rapalian/Rafayelian (born 1903), from Constantinople. Vosgi and Antreas had three children - Madlen (b. 1927), Yeghis (b. 1929), and Hagop (born 1930). Yeghis is Silva Avedisian’s mother.

We know that Vosgi, and her mother Yeghis, were master embroiderers. They worked at home and sold their works to Greek families, thus covering part of the family’s living expenses.

During the Repatriation (nerkaght) to Armenia (1946-47), Antreas and the entire family, and relatives, decided to join the convoys leaving for Soviet Armenia. They never made the move, and instead wound up immigrating to Argentina in 1950. Yeghis Mgrdichian, Vosgi’s mother, died there. Not adapting to life in Argentina, the family returned to Athens in 1953.

In 1963, Yeghis Rapalian (Vosgi’s daughter), married Avedis Avedisian (born 1921, Constantinople) in the Greek town of Patras. Armenag, Avedis’s father, was born in Constantinople. The birthplace of Srpouhie (born 1896), Avedis’s mother, is unknown. We know that Srpouhie and her mother were deported in 1915 and reached Der Zor. Srpouhie lost her mother during the years of exile and recounts how she buried her with her own hands. Srpouhie’s future husband, Armenag, was a hamal (porter) in Boursa. Armenag is drafted into the Ottoman Army during WWI but manages to escape. Many Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman Army at the time were singled out and killed.  

The true last name of Armenag was Krikorian. Immediately after the war, he resettled in Thrace, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Given that he dodged military service and faced arrest, he changed his name to Avedisian.

Krikor Jirair Djanigian is Silva’s husband. His mother is Vrejouhie Nshanian. Verjouhie’s father is Karnig Nshanian, who was born in Chengiler (now Sugören), south of Yalova. After the Genocide, surviving family members settled in Yalova (north of Boursa). Vrejouhie was born there. The family then moved from Yalova to Greece, first to Alexandroupoli, then to the town of Komotini/Goumourdjina, and later to Athens. Vrejouhie married Jirair Djanigian, from Izmir.

Two watches owned by Armenag Avedisian. He brought them from Boursa.

A lighter from Boursa. It belonged to Armenag Avedisian.

Smyrna, pre-1915. From left: Vosgi’s brother (name unknown), Yeghis Mgrdichian, Hagop Mgrdichian, Vosgi Mgrdichian (later Rapalian/Rafayelian).

1930s. 1st row, from left: Annig Avedisian (standing), Armenag Avedisian, Srpouhie Avedisian, Meri Avedisian. Rear row: Avedis Avedisian

Handmade embroidery by Vosgi Rapalian (née Mgrdichian) or Vosgi’s mother Yeghis Mgrdichian. Dimensions 81cm x 81cm (205 x 205 inches).

Handmade embroidery by Vosgi Rapalian (née Mgrdichian) or Vosgi’s mother Yeghis Mgrdichian. Dimensions 75 x 75 cm (190 x 190 inches).

Handmade embroidery by Vosgi Rapalian (née Mgrdichian) or Vosgi’s mother Yeghis Mgrdichian. Dimensions 21cm x 21 cm (53 x 53 inches).

Purse of Vosgi Rapalian (née Mgrdichian) that she brough from Smyrna.

A whip. It belonged to Krikor Jirair Djanigian’s (Silva Avedisian’s husband) ancestors. Krikor’s mother is Vrejouhie Nshanian. Verjouhie’s father is Karnig Nshanian, who was born in Chengiler (now Sugören), south of Yalova.

The marriage certificate of Antreas Rafayelian (Rapalian) and Vosgi Mgrdichian in the church's register. The marriage took place on March 7, 1926. The godfather was Manoug Mikayelian. Father Khoren Bchakjian conducted the service. The certificate states that Antreas is a 26-year-old bachelor, born in Constantinople, and that he resides in Pirea. It states that Vosgi is a 28-year-old widow, born in Bergama, who resides in the Dourgouti neighborhood (Source: LDS Library, film #1038667, item #2).

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