ARMENIAN ORIGIN MASTER DENGBÊJ
December 7th, 2001. The questions and images related Karapetê Xaço
appeared in my mind when the very old Russian made Tupolev belongs to the
Armenian Airways would carry out Istanbul-Erivan journey, took off. I would stay
and speak with the ‘Dengbêj of the Century’ for a long time. Suddenly, I
thought about 12 years ago. The time that I heard his voice...I used to study at
Yahya Kemal Bayatlý High Scholl, class second. After school, I and my brother
used to sell the products like lighters, watches, calculators with our portable
and four wheels circular tray. Apart from us there were three or four other
cassette sellers in the place was
called as back of Ziraat Bank and the opposite of Kozluklular Cafe. There were
tape-recorders of cars that the storage batteriesehad been
connected them in these circular trays. The many of the cassettes sold
were the cassettes of dengbêjs that we call ‘pirated editions’ and had been
recorded amateurly. The recordings of regional artists like Teyibo, Salihê
Banatî, Mehmûd Qizil, Þakiro, Salihê Qûbînê, Eyþe Þan, Meyrem Xan, Seîdê
Cizîrî, Mihemed Arifê Cizîrî and Beþir Kaya, Bayram Kalkan, Diyarbekirli
Mehmet Þah and Mehmet Kalkan who began to be known those days were among the
voices rose from these circular trays. Because of I had an static place at this
atmosphere, sometimes I used to listen a kilam 15 times at the five hours. I
never forget that I had memorised every line of the Salihê Qubînê’s kilam
called Þerê Hethetkê (The Hethetkê Fight) which began with these lines:
knew which kilam would be sang after which kilam by the dengbêj although I did
not know him. The tens of kilams and strans were in my mind until two years ago
thanks to the ‘portable kasetfiroþs’ Especially Saturdays and Sundays could
not be beared when we used to await beside our circular trays from morning until
evening during the closure of the schools.
of this compulsory close relations I hated kilams for a time. In a day that this
hate reached its highest point and I opposed my father with the words of ‘From
now on, I Would not work with the circular tray!” the kýlam that were rising
from the circular tray of opposite of me with the words like “Lê lê dayikê
heyranê...” shocked me deeply. The owner of this magnificient voice was no
one except Karapetê Xaço whose name I first time heard from cassette seller
Seyfo at the same day. Seyfo said that Karapêt was from the Armenians of
Bileyder village dependent of Beþirî district.
a time my repertoire had been rich thanks to Karapêt. I and my friends Kaleci
Kerem, Topçu Hasan, Emînê Xerzî and Kozluklu Halýcý Memed
used to murmured together Xaço’s kilams and strans like “Filîtê
Quto”, “Biþêriyê” and “Silêmanê Mistê” at the school. Karapetê
Xaço is one of the dengbêj whom I carry his voice with me since then.
Unfortunately, I have not knew
until two years ago whether this dengbêj who was a legend and ecol for me, was
alive. In other words I supposed that he had died long time ago. Like many
people I learned from the documentary made by Mehmet Aktaþ that Karapetê Xaço
alive and I got acquainted his magnificent lines of face.Apart from the
information I got from Aktaþ’s writings, I had asked about situation of uncle
Karapêt to the Siberian Kurds I had visited last year.
I was going to visit this master dengbêj during his life who had ended his 101
years and was102 years old, survived from the masssacre, long suffering person
of Beþiri-Kamiþlo-Yerevan line and performer of the Evdalê Zeynikê’s dengbêj
tradition. Nearly every kurd out of 7000 kurds of Yerevan and Tbilisi had
settled in the various regions of Siberia whom I met had the cassettes in their
home that Karapêt voice was recorded.
short while after landing of the plane, I and Keremê Seyad, the Administrator
of Kurdish Section of Yerevan Radio, set off. I were at he Solxoz village of
Karapetê Xaço one hour from Yerevan with the master of oboe Egîdê Cimo and
Dengbêj Feyzoyê Riza at the sixth day of my presence in Yerevan. Thus we
stepped into the story of Karapetê Xaço contained pain, kilams and strans.
TRAJIC STORY OF LIFE
Xaço was born as a child of Armenian family in villiage of Bileyder dependent
of Beþiri of today situated in the Reþkotan area of Garzan Plain. The official
name of Xaçatur (it is pronounced ‘Xaço’ by the Kurds)
and son of Çemo is Karapet Xaçaturyan in the the identity card had
given him by the Republic of Armenia. His date of bird is September 3th, 1900
and date of baptism is September 22th.
1915. The year that the most disgusting side of humanity was occurred. The year
that the death orders of Armenians, Syrian Ortodox and Yezidis were signed, the
last time father saw son, the mother saw daughter, the boys saw their fiancées
and the year that was summarised as with asylum, blood, tears and pillage.
Karapetê Xaço and his brother Abraham, sisters Manuþak and Xezal survived
with the statement of a soldier ‘Let’s free them and allow them to
go’ as he lost his parents.
is a well known proverb of Kurds says “Mêrikê xerîb kor e, siûda kuþtiyan
tun e ye” (The foreign person is blind and the killed person has no chance).
As if this proverb is said for Karapet and his brothers and sisters. They had
saw the death and passed to foreign
life. Because of afraid of ‘We will be killed this time absolutely’ they
have never visited their village With his two brothers and sisters turned their
back to the Bileyder and went away.
they were Armenians they did not show their identity. The fact that they could
not speak another language except Kurdish and speaking it correctly
like Kurdish children was the single reason for their survival. Karapêt
and his two sisters and brothers struggled to live for days. Now they were
‘parsek’. ‘Parsek’ or it’s English equivalent ‘beggar’.
was occurred in his two years of parsek time when Karapet
placed his hands on his ears and began sing his first kilams and strans
with a loud voice. He was not even 10 years old. The number of people heard his
voice increased despite his effort of not to be heard. Now Karapêt began listen
to dengbêjs at the dengbêj’s ‘civats’ by standing beside of doors and
windows. He memorized the words of these oral performers and ‘çîrokbêjs’.
Now, Karapet was a composer of kilams.
a period his sister married with Muslim man. This man was in the service
of a landowner. With his brother they settled alongside of husband of
their sister. Karapêt talks about those days with this statement: “ Êdî ez
xulamê xulaman bûm” (I was a servant of servants.). He was now stay alone
with the kilams and strans even at his most difficult and sorrowful times. He
says: “I used to work hard. I was sleepless and hungry, but I was singing
kilams and strans. Even I did not cry when my brother died. I sang once
“dengbêj who had survived of massacre” was
most demanded voice of Reþkotan, Botan, Xerzan and Diyarbekir after a
DENGBÊJ IN THE FRENCH ARMY
night, Karapêt came to Qamiþlo by crossing the Turkish-Syrian border secretly.
The France, one of alien force of World War First was in Turkish-Syrian border.
When he was walking around in Qamiþlo he witnessed that the French was
recruiting the soldiers by announcement. He said ‘I do not work anyway’ and
participated the French Army as legionnaire. Karapetê Xaço have worked in
French Army as a mercenary soldier nearly 15 years. He wore the best cloths and
ate best foods during those years. His prestige rose and he learned French a
day that the French Army’s duty in the region ended came and the decision of
sending it to the France by passing Lebonan was taken. Karapet became friend not
only with the important Kurdish persons and dengbêjs of region but he had many
friend in the French Army. Karapet used to sing to the kurdish soldiers and
their French commanders during the long summer nights. They wanted Karapet who
won admiration of French Army come with them to France with the promise of
better life. Karapet rejected this request.
the Soviyet Administration took a decision allowing Armenians living in Diaspora
to come back their country. After this decision, he went to Yerevan, the city
still he lives, with his little son Sêrop and his wife in 1946.