“Gift of fatherly love to my son Kiprianos”

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.

To my son Kiprianos 3

(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:

To my son Kiprianos 5


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.

To my son Kiprianos 2


35 thoughts on ““Gift of fatherly love to my son Kiprianos”

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      1. Such a deep reflection, Brad. I agree with you that many father nowadays would find expressing feelings of this kind hard. I have a feeling that the digital era we’re now a part of, whether willingly or unwillingly, might have an impact on personal relationships, and I’m afraid to say it, in a negative way. Thanks for the chat, very much appreciated!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You may be right about the digital era. It’s complicated, of course. I was just reading an article about the declining birth rate in the United States. In 2018 it was the lowest rate in 32 years. Researchers think one problem is that young adults spend so much time alone on their devices. Another reason is that young women are putting off relationships in order to focus on their careers. The latter trend isn’t new, but may be accelerating as career opportunities for women increase. They may still have children, but fewer. I wonder if these trends will lead to higher or lower levels of happiness overall.

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    1. I don’t find anything under that name, but thank you! I hadn’t come up with that possibility. The odd thing about it is that the last name looks rather like Cyrillic script, but the initials don’t. And the name doesn’t seem any more familiar in Cyrillic than it does in Latin.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. What a loving message. It seems perfectly consonant with what I see in the photo: a kind and gentle man, whom I imagine to have been a wonderful father. And how good that you were able to find a translation; that makes it even more special.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s a lovely photo and lovely message – and well done on getting it translated. I am amused by the backdrop over the disturbed soil on the ground! I wonder what it hides, behind it?

    Sellers drive me crazy with their sending photos all over the world, so one never knows how they end up in a particular place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What gets me is when sellers don’t communicate the information they DO have. It happens often. I’ll buy a photo on eBay, thinking there’s no name on it, then come to find a name on the back. It’s crazy! I’m thrilled when it happens, of course. Thanks, Val.

      Liked by 2 people

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