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E00133: The History of the Albanians, written in Armenian, recounts the martyrdom by the Huns of *T'aguhi (martyr in Caucasian Albania, S00598), an Albanian noble woman, of the subsequent conversion of the Huns, and of the collection of her relics. Written probably in Caucasian Albania, possibly in the 6th c. or 7th c.

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posted on 01.11.2014, 00:00 authored by naleksidze
History of the Albanians, Book 1, Chapter 29

The invasion of all the borders of Albania, Armenia, and Georgia by the Northerners, and the martyrdom of Saint Mesrob's students.

The Southern Caucasus was overrun by the 'northerners', the Huns. The lands were plundered and the holy relics were scattered over the hills, in spite of the attempts to bury all relics and treasure. Among the captives seized by the Huns was a certain noble woman called T'aguhi. The prince of the Huns became inflamed with passion towards her. One night the general ordered that she be brought to his place. Taguhi resisted and openly prayed to God. A local mob heard her prayer and immediately informed the princes. He was seized with anger and ordered her to be put to death through torture if she would not come to him in honour and respect.

(Text missing) Եւ յետ այնորիկ ՛ի նմին գիշերի մինչդեռ արթնական խնճոյիւք դեգերէին այլազուն իշխանքն հանդերձ զօրականօք եւ առնէին ծաղրական խընդութիւն, յանկարծակի նշան զարմանալի երեւեալ ՛ի Տեառնէ, ակն յայտնի ամենեքեան տեսանէին լոյս սաստիկ ծագեալ ՛ի տեղւոջն, ուր սուրբն Թագուհի վկայեաց եւ ուր ցրեալ պատառած հանդերձի նորա սփիւռ եւ տարած ընդ երեսս անտառին փայլէին որպէս աստեղք։ Եւ հարուստ ժամանակաւ լոյս աստեղանման ծագեալ ՛ի տեղւոջն փարէր ՛ի վերայ սրբոյ նահատակին, զոր տեսեալ բազմութեան մարդկանն՝ զանուն տեղւոյն Աստեղաբլուր անուանեցին մինչեւ ցայսօր։ Վասն որոյ աւետասքանչ հրաշիւք հիանայր իշխանն եւ ՛ի մեծի ահի եղեալ՝ հրամայէր առ ինքն կոչել զքահանայս Տեառն եւ ուսեալ ՛ի նոցանէ զփրկութեանն ճանապարհ՝ հաւատայր յԱստուած կենդանի, եւ հրամայէր ամփոփել զնըշխարս սրբոյն, պատել սուրբ կտաւօք եւ ծածկել ՛ի բլրին։ Եւ անդէն կատարէին յօդեաց եւ յայծեաց պատարագ օրհնութեան եւ զտէրունական զտօնն մեծապայծառ խմբէին յիշատակօք ՛ի նոցունց վկայելոցն։

'His servants went and urged her to submit to the will of their prince. When they were unable to persuade the unwilling T'aguhi, they bound her hands behind her back, dragged her by the hair, tore her face with cruel thorns from the forest thickets, and together they lacerated the body of the Saint; then they beheaded her with a sword. Her battle was like that of Saint Hr'ip'sime, and the great T'aguhi was also crowned with the divine and victorious crown of Christ. That very night, while the foreign prince and his forces enjoyed themselves with sleepless joy and made merry, a marvelous sign suddenly appeared from the Lord. Everyone clearly observed a strong light shining from the place where the blessed T'aguhi had been martyred. The torn remnants of her clothes, scattered over the forest, shone like stars, and for a long time this starry light glowed above the holy martyrs. When they saw this, the people called the place Asteł Blur ('Star Hill'), as it is known to this day. The prince was amazed by these miracles of good tidings, and in great fear he ordered the priests of the Lord to be summoned before him. Learning from them the path of salvation, he believed in the living God and ordered that the scattered relics of the Saints to be gathered together, that Saint [T'aguhi] be wrapped in linen, and that they be hidden on the hill. Then with their flocks and goats [as sacrifices], they performed mass with great ceremony in commemoration of their martyrs.'

Text: Arakelyan 1983, 99-102. Translation: Bedrosian 2004, 46-47.

History

Evidence ID

E00133

Saint Name

Taguhi, fifth century martyr in Caucasian Albania : S00598 Hripsime, Armenian virgin and martyr of Roman origin : S00071

Saint Name in Source

Թագուհի Հռիփսիմէ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

600

Evidence not after

1000

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

500

Place of Evidence - Region

Albania in Caucasia Armenia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Urekan Ուռեկան Urekan Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

History of the Albanians

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous sound, smell, light Miracles causing conversion

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Soldiers

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious cloths

Source

The History of the Albanians is one of the most controversial texts of the medieval Armenian corpus. It is relatively obvious that the text known today as the History of Albanians is a compilation, sometimes a rather crude one, of various narrative sources, historical documents, or oral narratives, the latest of which dates as late as the 11th century. The authorship is usually attributed to a certain Movsēs Dasxuranc'i, who is most probably one of the 10th century compilers or editors of the corpus. There exists yet another Movsēs (Kałankatwac'i) to whom the History is also attributed, although here again we are dealing with a continuator or a compiler. It is equally unclear whether these two Movsēses are one and the same persons or not. Therefore, despite the traditional attribution to a Movsēs, we refer to the text by its title only. In spite of all these uncertainties, the information provided by the History of the Albanians is invaluable in many ways. First of all it is the only history that specifically treats Caucasian Albania, secondly, it constructs the history of Albania specifically around its saints and their cult, presenting the Christian history of the Kingdom in line with the established Armenian tradition, which also emphasises its unique character and cultural autonomy. The History provides great details on cultic practices, perhaps more than we have from any other contemporaneous Caucasian texts. In our database only the first book of the History is considered, as it is the part of the narrative that can be dated to the late antique period with the highest degree of confidence. The most important section of the Book I is perhaps the life and deeds of the Albanian King Vač'agan III (r. 487-510). J.P. Mahé and K. Zuckerman distinguish this component from the rest of Book I and date it to the 6th century. The rest must be a 7th century composition. The 6th century chronicler must have recounted these events soon after the death of King Vač'agan in the early 6th century (Mahé 2009, 114-115). Mahé suggests that Vač'agan symbolizes a certain unity of two parts of Albania, the north, which was predominantly Albanophone, and the south, where Armenian was used as an official language. The author also wishes to highlight the close cultural ties between Armenia and Albania. Vač'agan's principle challenge was to eliminate the continuous spread of paganism in Albania. Apart from strict measures taken against 'sorcerers' and pagans, Vač'agan instituted schools to re-educate the children of pagans. Vač'agan's particular concern with the cult of the relics is also a part of his anti-pagan project. Thus, the entire first part of Book I is a long quest for the relics of the saints, narrated with striking details.

Discussion

This pious story is yet another attempt to create pious narratives analogous to the popular Armenian tradition. As mentioned by the author, T'aguhi’s trial was similar to that of Hripsimē, Armenia’s protomartyr. The latter was put to death by King Trdat, the future first Christian King of Armenia for exact same reasons. The attempt to mirror and imitate the Armenian tradition permeates the entire History of the Albanians to the level of making local, Albanian female martyrs of similar valour as their great Armenian prototypes.

Bibliography

Critical edition: Arakelyan, V. (ed.), Մովսէս Կաղանկատւացի, Պատմութիւն Աղուանից Աշխարհի (Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1983). Translations: Bedrosian, R., Movses Daskhurants'i's History of the Aghuans (Long Branch, New Jersey: Sources of the Armenian tradition, 2010). Dowsett, C.J.F., The History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movsēs Dasxuranc'i (London: Oxford University Press, 1961). Smbatyan, S.V., Мовсэс Каланкатуаци, История страны Алуанк [Movsēs Kalankatuac'i, History of the Land of Albania] (Yerevan, 1984). Studies: Bais, M., Albania Caucasica: Ethnos, Storia, territorio attraverso le fonti greche, latine e armene (Milan: Mimesis, 2001). Hewsen, R.H., "On the Chronology of Movsēs Dasxuranc'i", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 27:1 (1964), 151-153. Mahé, J.-P., "Vac'agan III le Pieux et le Culte des Reliques", Révue des Etudes Armeniennes 35 (2013), 113-129. Yuzbachian, K.N., “Einige Bemerkungen über die Entwicklung der nationalen Bewusstseinsbildung im kaukasischen Albanien", in: W. Seibt (ed.), Die Christianisierung des Kaukasus (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002), 181-189. Zuckerman, C., "The Khazars and Byzantium. The First Encounter", in P.B. Golden, H. Ben Shamai, A. Róna-Tas (eds.), The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Selected Papers from the Jerusalem 1999 International Khazar Colloquium (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 8: Uralic and central Asian Studies, 17; Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2007), 399-432.

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