Date: 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:

“Eyþê dibê Mihemedo lawo
Eyþê dibê Mihemedo lawo
Mihemedê min keya ye lawo
Eli Zava ye...”

I 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.

 Because 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.

After 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.

            Finally 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.

            A 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.



Karapetê 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.

            Year 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.

            There 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.

            Although 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’.

            It 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.

            After 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 again...”

            The “dengbêj who had survived of massacre” was  most demanded voice of Reþkotan, Botan, Xerzan and Diyarbekir after a time.



One 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 little.

            The 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.

            Meanwhile 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.

* Journalist-Outher