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The Armenian Magical Medical Tour
A Lecture in Honor of the Three NAASR Founders:
Thomas T. Amirian, Arra S. Avakian,
and Manoog S. Young
The Armenian Magical Medical Tour:
A Manuscript in the NAASR Collection

by Prof. James R. Russell
Mashtots Professor of
Armenian Studies Harvard Univ.


Sept. 16, 2010
8:00 p.m.

NAASR Center
395 Concord Ave.
Belmont, MA 02478

National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)

Among a collection of books and papers recently given to NAASR by the late Dr. Levon Z. Boyajian there is an unusual notebook of magical and medical writings. Though Boyajian thought the notebook had been lost, it turned up among his books after his death and was recognized by Prof. James Russell as the magical notebook about which Boyajian had told him.

The medical portion of the text is modern and Prof. Russell dates it to the 1920s at the latest, the 1890s at the very earliest. There are also spells and magical portions in late Classical Armenian which were evidently copied from an older MS of the 17th or 18th century. Some of the spells are known from other sources. One spell mentioning Solomon belongs to a cycle of Solomonic myth well known in Armenian.

Though there is no formal connection between the two texts-the medical and the magical-in the note-book, the volume has the title Bzhshkaran, "Book of Healing." In Russell's view, the presence of the texts together is not coincidental: healing and magic went together; and Solomon, in addition to his mastery of magic and control of demons, was reputed in legend to have written a book of all the cures for all diseases.

Dr. Levon Boyajian grew up, as did Prof. Russell, in Washington Heights in New York City. In this lecture, Prof. Russell will give insights into this treasure from the NAASR library and reflect on the manuscript's curious journey from the old world to the new, and the area he has dubbed "Washington Hayots."

Prof. James R. Russell has been the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University since 1992. His books include Bosphorus Nights: The Complete Lyric Poems of Bedros Tourian, Armenian and Iranian Studies, The Book of Flowers, An Armenian Epic: The Heroes of Kasht, Zoroastrianism in Armenia, and Hovhannes Tlkurantsi and the Medieval Armenian Lyric Tradition.

Other Upcoming Events in the Boston Area

Thurs., September 30, 8:00 p.m.: Garin Hovannisian, "Family of Shadows," at the NAASR Center.

Thurs., Oct. 7, 8:00 p.m.: Dr. Aida Boujikanian, "The Armenians of Lebanon" at the NAASR Center.

Weds., Oct. 13, 6:00 p.m.: James Russell, "Calm before the Storm: The Armenian Poet Misak Medzarents on the Threshold of the Genocide," at The Castle, Bay State Road, Boston University. Co-sponsored by the Charles K. and Elisabeth M. Kenosian Chair in Modern Armenian History and Literature at BU and NAASR.

Thurs., Oct. 21, 8:00 p.m.: Panel with University Administrators from Armenia, at the NAASR Center. Co-sponsored by the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) and NAASR.

Thurs., Oct. 28, 8:00 p.m.: Prof. Keith Watenpaugh: "Finding the Lost: the Rescue of Trafficked Children After the Genocide," co-sponsored by Armenian International Women's Association (AIWA) and NAASR.


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