Bardizag and its People

Bardizag and its People

translated with an introduction and annotations by Ara Stepan Melkonian
London: Gomidas Institute, 2014,
xxxiii + 476 pages, map, illustrations
ISBN 978-1-909382-14-5, paperback,
Price: UK£35.00 / US$50.00
To order please contact

Bardizag and its People is an amazing and extremely detailed book on the history of an Ottoman Armenian community south of the Bay of Izmid (Nicomedia) - in western Turkey. It was written in a loving and straightforward manner by one of Bardizag’s native sons, Krikor Mkhalian (1866-1937), who was intimately involved with the village’s life and well placed to write such a book. However, he benefitted greatly in writing this work by the notes of Garabed Kahana Mkhalian.
    Though not a work of art, this encyclopedic and straightforward work consists of 11 chapters and 154 detailed entries that cover all aspects of the history of Bardizag from agricultural and industrial production and commerce to religious, secular, administrative and cultural life. Mkhaian does not necessarily paint a rosy picture of village life and discusses some of the disagreements, squabbles and strife that took place in the village. His work thus presents a remarkable social history of an Ottoman Armenian village from the years of its original settlement to 1915.
    Today, very little remains of Bardizag, where all of its churches, monasteries, schools, communal buildings and factories have been destroyed. The village name has also been changed to Bahçecik. Mkhalian’s work is now the only lasting legacy of that remarkable Armenian village.
    Bardizag and its People has been painstakingly translated by Ara Stepan Melkonian with the addition of 700 notes and annotations, as well as an introduction.

Ara Stepan Melkonian is an accomplished translator and a Senior Fellow at the Gomidas Institute. His works include the English translations of Krikor Odian’s Accursed Years, Raffi’s The Five Melikdoms of Karabagh and Tajkahayk, and Teotig’s Monument to April 11.


Translator’s note
Biography: Krikor Mkhalian
Map: Bay of Izmid, Bardizag and surrounding villages
Map: Bardizag
Onnig Mkhalian’s note



Chapter 1 - The foundation of Bardizag and the origin of the migration
1 – Bardizag’s location and position
2 – The origin of the migration and the first families
3 – Bardizag’s boundaries according to the Imperial firman [decree]
4 – The origin of the Armenian population of Izmid (Nicomedia)
5 – Traces of a Turkish population in Bardizag
6 – The life and occupation of Bardizag’s first settlers

Chapter 2 - The early days – the first priests and notables
7 – The building of Bardizag’s first church
8 – Bardizag’s first priests (kahanas)
9 – The building of Bardizag’s second church
10 – The priests who served in the second church
11 – Village government, Armenian ishkhans [notables] and Turkish aghas
12 – The collection of young men for naval service

Chapter 3 - The Agha Krikor Great Hadji Khacher Bab era
13 – Great Hadji Khatcher Bab and the beginning of his rule
14 – The procuring of the cham fuel trade for the Ottoman Mint
15 – The newly-ordained kahanas [married priests] who served in  the second Church
16 – Great Hadji Khacher’s opponents
17 – Sericulture and the silk harvest in Bardizag
18 – The pilgrimage site of St Minas (Sokhmiar-Soghouk Pounar)
19 – Sourp Dirouhi [Holy Lady or Holy Mother of God]
20 – Great Hadji Khacher Bab’s public works4
21 – Hadji Khacher’s family circumstances
22 – Bandits capture priests from Bardizag
23 – Hovhannes Kahana of the Great Derder family is exiled
24 – The supply of charcoal to the Ottoman Mint passes into the hands of the people of Bardizag
25 – The port of Seymen’s trade movement
26 – Attempts at hermit-like living
27 – The building of the third church
28 – The great death
29 – A prodigal’s sad death
30 – Apraham Kahana’s ordination
31 – Great Hadji Khatcher’s death
32 – The derebeys in Bardizag

Chapter 4 - The Apraham Kahana Khacherian era 1809 – 1825
33 – Apraham Kahana and Hovhannes Kahana of the Great Derders family
34 – Apraham Kahana’s position and authority
35 – A border dispute between the villagers of Bardizag and Dongel
36 – The billeting of army detachments in the villages
37 – Preparation of building materials for the church
38 – Prelate Archbishop Boghos Karakoch’s church reforms
39 – The newly ordained kahanas who served in the third church
40 – New attempts at hermit-like living. The founding of the Manoushag pilgrimage site
41 – The construction of the old houses in Bardizag, their parts and furnishings etc
42 – Village weddings in olden times
43 – The foundation of the community school, the first teachers

Chapter 5 - The Garabed Agha Mgerian era 1825 – 1850
44 – Apraham Kahana’s fall and exile
45 – Garabed Mgerian
46 – The newly-elected notables’ relationship with Apraham Kahana
47 – Apraham Kahana’s revenge on his opponents
48 – Mgerian introduces horseshoe-making skills and trade in horseshoes into Bardizag
49 – The visit of Giragos, the exiled Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, to Bardizag
50 – One or two anecdotes about the shoushdag vartabed Mesrob of Bardizag
51 – Apraham Kahana’s second exile
52 – The building of the fourth and last church
53 – Apraham Kahana’s return from his place of exile
54 – The ghonakh [government building] and the Turkish agha
55 – Artin Amira Ghazaz’s intervention in Bardizag’s community affair
56 – Accusations and slander against Mgeria
57 – The deaths of Nerses Kahana Kardeshian and Krikor Agha Kahana Krikorian
58 – A government census in Bardizag
59 – The construction of a separate school building (1833)
60 – A personal educational initiative
61 – Apraham Kahana’s death and the fate of his supporters
62 – New arrangements for the supply of charcoal to the mint
63 – The plan to build a paved road between the port (Seymen) and the village. Opposition to this plan
64 – A Bardizag martyr (May 1st 1838)
65 – Mgerian, wheat and cereals merchant, builds his own warehouse in Seymen
66 – The financial auditor Garabed Vartabed (nicknamed Yanghendji) in Bardizag
67 – The death of the venerable Sarkis Kahana: an outline of his character
68 – A new census taken and government records compiled of agricultural produce and property
69 – Mgerian purchases new land and makes it into a farm. He also buys up all the houses surrounding his and makes the area his own
70 – A new door is created in the church wall in the market, at the  corner of the building owned by Mgerian
71 – Mgerian has a large horseshoe workshop belonging to him built opposite the cemetery
72 – Mgerian sells his property sited next to the church wall to the village community
73 – The ordination of two sargavaks [deacons] as well as a kahana from outside Bardizag124
74 – New agitation in the village concerning community accounts
75 – A visit by Armenian amiras to Bardizag
76 – Mgerian’s final years of personal and public works
77 – The church’s water problem
78 – The origin of Saroukhanian’s and Ayvazian’s emnity towards Mgerian
79 – An attempt to conscript Christians into the army
80 – The re-use of a site within the port by building a community bakery and coffee house on it
81 – Deacon Megerditch Mardigian (Miapanian)
82 – The bazar khayeghs [caiques, boats] belonging to the Bardizag community
83 – The teacher Mourad of Peria
84 – Garabed Kahana Der-Krikorian sent to Armash monastery to repent
85 – The ordinations of Sahag Kahana and Nerses Kahana
86 – The death of the venerable Sahag Kahana Bedig Sarkisian
87 – The purchase of church fittings and carpets
88 – Exiles from Bardizag in foreign lands
89 – Hadji Artin Agha Der-Antreasian, the Hadji Artins’ and Der-Antreasians’ ancestor
90 – Archbishop Stepannos Maghakian, prelate and locum tenens of the monastery ofArmash and Izmid (1855)

PART 2, 1850 – 1919

Chapter 6 - Present times – transition period 1850 – 1919
91 – The development of Bardizag’s economic life
92 – The Mgerians after Garabed Agha Mgerian’s death. Sarkis Effendi Mgerian
93 – The bandit chief Lefter
94 – The formation of a Catholic community and its life in Bardizag
95 – Hovsep Vartabed Ayvazian’s return to the mother church in 1876
96 – The entry and spread of Protestantism in Bardizag
97 – The foundation of the Saroukhanian and Mgerian silk spinning factories
98 – The Mgerians in this new situation
99 – The ordination of kahanas on March 6th 1866
100 – Community authority
101– The foundation of an American girls’ school
102 – Mr Parsons’ martyrdom
103 – The immigration of the mountaineer Cherkez [Circassians] into Turkey
104 – Educational work in Bardizag during Sarkis Effendi Mgerian’s time. Kevork Effendi Shirinian as inspector of the community schools and director of the ousoumnaran
105  – A bandit group that robbed a government courier in Bardizag
106 – Clashes between the young men of Bardizag and the Circassians
107– The immigration of the Giurdjis [Muslim Georgians] to Turkey and the settlement of a group of them on the heights around Bardizag
108 – Thieves made a forced entry into Hagop Agha Djergants’ house one night and burgled it
109 – Educational work in Bardizag after Shirinian’s departure
110 – Mr and Mrs Armen Lousinian in Bardizag’s community schools
111 – A new and final census in Bardizag
112 – Records of ownership and government taxation
113 – Horse thieves and Bodour Gabe
114 – Mr Pierce succeeds Mr Parsons as a missionary, and the foundation of the American Boys’ School

Chapter 7 - Present times – the Tourian era 1880 - 1914
115 – Government representation
116 – The building of the road from Bardizag to Seymen
117 – Tset Khacher’s son Levon’s unexpected act of bravery
118 – The rebirth of silkworm breeding and the silk trade in Bardizag: the Pasteur method
119 – An ordinary bandit named Nouri Bey achieves a very wealthy and influential position among the notables of the province of Izmid
120 – Yeghishe Vartabed Tourian in Bardizag as preacher and community schools’ inspector (1880)
          1. The construction of the new school building
          2. The fundamental organisation of educational work
          3. A new generation of teachers
          4. Cultivation of spiritual life. Tourian the preacher
          5. Lecture hall and theatre
          6. Tourian’s family, social and personal life
121 – New ordination of kahanas in Bardizag
122 – Stepannos Vartabed Hovgimian, prelate of the Izmid diocese: biographical outline, work and character
123 – The ordination of a young man from Bardizag as a celibate monk
124 – The repair of St James church and the building of the church of the Holy King
125 – Khachig Agha Avedian becomes a silk spinning factory owner
126 – Helvadjian builds his own silk spinning factory in Bardizag. Helvadjian’s water problem
127 – The enclosing of the old cemetery with a wall
128 – The first revolutionary act in Bardizag
129 – Mr Chambers, the third American missionary in Bardizag
130   – Garabed Effendi Helvadjian, the son of the family, is abducted by bandits and taken to the mountains. The fate of the Helvadjians’ silk spinning factory
131 – Ordination of Mgerdich Vartabed Aghavnouni

Chapter 8 - Present times – The next phase
132 – Educational work in Bardizag after Tourian’s departure
133 – The ordination of a vartabed: Mr A Mazlemian dedicates himself to celibate priesthood
134 – Days of terror in Bardizag
135 – The Yildiz bomb: new and terrible fear in Bardizag
136 – Fire calamities
137 – Nshan Agha Sinanian and his farm
138 – Laz-Armenian bandits
139 – The construction of the community bath house
140 – The Ottoman Bank incident in Constantinople and its repercussions on life in Bardizag
141 – The final ordinations in Bardizag
142 – Antranig Garabedian becomes director of the community schools
143 – The links between Armash seminary and Bardizag

Chapter 9 – 1908 – 1915
144 – The re-establishment of the Turkish constitution (July 1908): days of freedom
145 – Various organisations in Bardizag
          1. Protection of Village Cultivable Land
          2. The organisation of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Bardizag branch
          3. The establishment of the People’s Bank of Bardizag
          4. The Steamship Company
          5. The Diurger [Builders’] Association
          6. The Dashnaktsagan (ARF) retail co-operative
          7. The Public Garden Association
146 – New plans being considered
147 – Theatrical and artistic life in Bardizag
148 – The founding of a kindergarten and the purchase of its own building
149 – The conflict between the community authorities and the local committee of the ARF

Chapter 10 – Deportation and short-lived post-war life
150 – Incidents that were precedents in Armeno-Turkish relations
151 – Collection of weapons and deportation
152 – Bardizag during the years when it was empty of its population
153 – After the Armistice

Chapter 11 – A composite picture of Bardizag’s public life
154 – Explanation
          1. Bardizag’s position, geography and topographical description
          2. Climate and health
          3. Economic life
          4. Family life
          5. Social life – leisure
          6. Public life
          7. Religious and spiritual life
          8. Educational work
          9. Popular superstitions and beliefs


Documents, illustrations and tables

« Back to books listing