The comment thread to “Peaches in Cluj” is chock-full of fascinating historical and ethnographical detail, and I commend it to anyone with an interest in the minority populations of Eastern Europe. One comment in particular, by the learned and much-traveled zaelic, had a paragraph so interesting to me I’m posting it here as its own entry. I knew about the Armenians of Eastern Europe, but had never heard of Armeno-Kipchak, a term so obscure it gets only 29 Google hits. I’ve added links for the curious:
The Armenians entered in the late 1600 via the Ukraine and Volynia. There were already communities of them around the Black Sea but the Jelali Revolts in eastern Turkey around 1610 caused a flood of Anatolian Armenians to flee to the Ukraine, and thence to Moldavia (there are still some in Iasi and Suceava). Since Transylvania was a more peaceful choice in the 17th century, many moved there – a particularly corrupt Archbishop sold loyalty to the Austrians by accepting the authority of Rome but maintaining the rituals of the Armenian Church as specific Armenian Uniates. Armenian was basically only a liturgical language. The original Armenian emigrants spoke Armeno-Kipchak – basically Turkish vernacular but written in Armenian script – and today Armenian is only used in some church hymns, and I don’t know if Father Fogojan is still in charge of things up in Gheorgheni but I think he is the only priest fluent in the language (he lived mosty of his life on the Armenian Church island in the Venice Lagoon.)
I am also going to quote this sentence from the entry on “Armenian rite” (the liturgical practices observed by both the Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) Church and the Armenian Catholics) from Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, because I love the sound of the Armenian titles so much:
For its worship services the Armenian rite is dependent upon such books as the Donatzuitz, the order of service; the Badarakamaduitz, the book containing all the prayers used by the priest; the Giashotz, the book of midday, containing the Epistle and Gospel readings for each day; and the Z’amagirq, the book of hours, containing the prayers and psalms of the seven daily offices, primarily matins, prime, and vespers.