I wish I knew how this cabinet card came to Vermont. I bought it from a local antiques dealer, who couldn’t tell me anything about it. When I looked at the writing on the back, my first thought was that it might be Armenian, but I wasn’t sure.
(For a large scan of the back, click here.)
Not knowing where to turn for assistance, I began looking at websites related to Armenian history, and eventually landed on the homepage of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), in Belmont, Massachusetts. I sent a short email asking if someone there might be willing to help. A reply came immediately from Marc Mamigonian, Director of Academic Affairs, who invited me to send him scans of the photo. After I did, he replied that the writing was indeed Armenian and that he would consult with Ani Babaian, Library Curator at NAASR’s Mardigian Library. A few hours later Marc sent the following translation:
Gift of fatherly love to my son Kiprianos. You are not without this unworthy old one’s blessings. Inform me how you are, to comfort me. God keep you from accidents/misfortune.
(Translation by Ani Babaian)
The message is poetic, isn’t it? Kiprianos may have been far from home, and his father may have wondered whether he would ever see him again.
The father appears to be seated outdoors, rather than in a studio, which tells us that the photographer was probably traveling through the area. Above the inscription on the back, there appears to be a name, but we haven’t been able to make it out. It could be the father’s, but I’m guessing it was the photographer’s, since he isn’t identified elsewhere on the photo:
My sincere thanks go to Ani Babaian and Marc Mamigonian for their assistance. I love the portrait and its heartfelt inscription. I hope Kiprianos received it, wherever he was. I hope he wrote a long letter to his father in reply, and I hope his father was comforted by it.