Hovhannes Tumanyan

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Hovhannes Tumanyan
Born(1869-02-19)February 19, 1869[1]
Dsegh, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire
(now Lori Province, Armenia)[1]
DiedMarch 23, 1923(1923-03-23) (aged 54)[1]
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union[1]
Resting placeArmenian Pantheon of Tbilisi
Occupationpoet, novelist, public activist
Literary movementRealism
SpouseOlga Tumanyan (née Matchkalyan)
Children10, including Tamar Tumanyan

Hovhannes Tumanyan (Armenian: Հովհաննես Թումանյան, classical spelling: Յովհաննէս Թումանեան, February 19 [O.S. February 7] 1869 – March 23, 1923) was an Armenian poet, writer, translator, and literary and public activist. He is the national poet of Armenia.[2]

Tumanyan wrote poems, quatrains, ballads, novels, fables, and critical and journalistic articles.[3] His works were mostly written in the style of realism, frequently revolving around the everyday life of his time.[2] Born in the historical village of Dsegh in the Lori region, at a young age Tumanyan moved to Tiflis, which was the centre of Armenian culture under the Russian Empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries.[4] He soon became known to the wide Armenian society for his simple but very poetic works.

Many films and animated films have been adapted from Tumanyan's works. Two operas, Anush (1912) by Armen Tigranian and Almast (1930) by Alexander Spendiaryan, were written based on his works.


Tumanyan's parents
Vernatun members in 1903. Isahakyan, Aghayan, Tumanyan (sitting) and Shant, Demirchian (standing).
The Tumanyan family
The house where Tumanyan lived in Tiflis

Hovhannes Tumanyan was born on February 19, 1869, in the village of Dsegh, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire (now in Lori Province, Armenia).[1][3]

His father, Aslan (1839–1898), was the village priest known as Ter-Tadevos. He was an offspring of an Armenian princely family of Tumanyan, branch of the famous royal house of Mamikonian that settled in Lori in 10th and 11th centuries from their original feudal fief of Taron.[citation needed]

His mother, Sona (1842–1936), was an avid storyteller with a particular interest in fables. Young Tumanyan was the oldest of eight children; his siblings were Rostom (1871–1915), Osan (1874–1926), Iskuhi (1878–1943), Vahan (1881–1937), Astghik (1885–1953), Arshavir (1888–1921), Artashes (1892–1916).[5]

From 1877 to 1879, Tumanyan attended the parochial school of Dsegh. From 1879 to 1883 he went to a school in Jalaloghly.[6] Tumanyan moved to Tiflis in 1883, where he attended the Nersisyan School from 1883 to 1887.[3] Tumanyan's wrote his first poem at the age of 12, while studying in Jalaloghly school. He lived at the teacher's house for a while and fell in love with the teacher's daughter Vergine.[6] Since 1893, Tumanyan worked for Aghbyur, Murtch, Hasker and Horizon periodicals and also was engaged in public activism.[3]

In 1899, Tumanyan came up with an idea of organizing meetings of Armenian intellectuals of the time at his house on 44 Bebutov Street in Tiflis (present-day Amaghleba 18, in Sololaki). Soon it became an influential literary group, which often gathered in the garret of Tumanyan's house. Vernatun means garret in Armenian, which was the name the group was referred to. Prominent members of the collective were Avetik Isahakyan, Derenik Demirchyan, Levon Shant, Ghazaros Aghayan, Perch Proshyan, Nikol Aghbalian, Alexander Shirvanzade, Nar-Dos, Vrtanes Papazyan, Vahan Terian, Leo, Stepan Lisitsyan, Mariam Tumanyan, Gevorg Bashinjagyan and many other significant Armenian figures of early 20th century. With some pauses, it existed until 1908.[3]

In 1912 Tumanyan was elected the president of the Company of Caucasus Armenian Writers.[3]

In the fall of 1921, Tumanyan went to Constantinople to find support of Armenian refugees. After months spent there, he returned ill. After surgery in 1922, he started to get better. But in September, Tumanyan's disease started to progress again. He was transferred to a hospital in Moscow, where he died on March 23, 1923.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1888, at the age of 19, Hovhannes Tumanyan married Olga Matchkalyan, age 17.[8] They had 10 children: Musegh (1889–1938), Ashkhen (1891–1968), Nvard (1892–1957), Artavazd (1894–1918), Hamlik (1896–1937), Anush (1898–1927), Arpik (1899–1981), Areg (1900–1939), Seda (1905–1988), Tamar (1907–1989).[9]

Political and public activism[edit]

During the government-provoked Armenian–Tatar massacres of 1905–1907, Tumanyan took the role of a peacemaker, for which he was arrested twice.[3] Tumanyan also deeply criticized the Georgian–Armenian War of 1918.[3] Tumanyan was also actively engaged in preaching the Gospel. As he put in one of his verses, "There is only one way of salvation; through Jesus Christ abiding inside every one of us".

In October 1914 Tumanyan joined the "Committee for Support of War Victims", which later helped Armenian Genocide refugees settled in Etchmiadzin.[10]

In 1921 in Tiflis he founded the House of Armenian Art.

Literary work[edit]

Tumanyan's work is simple, natural and poetically inspired at the same time. It is not by mere chance that dozens of phrases and expressions from Tumanyan's works have become a natural part of people's everyday language, their sayings, adages, and maxims.[2]

Tumanyan is usually regarded in Armenian circles as "All-Armenian poet". He earned this title when the Catholicos of Armenia had ordered that Armenian refugees from the west not enter certain areas of his church and house, since he is considered to be "The Catholicos of all Armenians". Tumanyan in response decried that decision claiming that the refugees could seek relief in the Catholicos' quarters under order of "The Poet of all Armenians".

He created lyrics, fables, epic poems and translations into Armenian of Byron, Goethe and Pushkin.[11]

Tumanyan's most famous works include:


Tombstone of Tumanyan in the Armenian Pantheon of Tbilisi.


Tumanyan's works were translated by Valeri Bryusov, Konstantin Balmont, Joseph Brodsky, Samuil Marshak, Bella Akhmadulina and others.

Tumanyan's House Museum in Dsegh

Places named after Tumanyan[edit]

In Armenia:

  • Tumanyan Matchbox Label Museum[12]
  • Tumanyan City in Lori Province, which until 1951 was named Dzaghidzor.
  • Pedagogical University of Vanadzor
  • Armenian State Puppet Theater in Yerevan
  • Tumanyan St. in central Yerevan
  • Tumanyan Park in Yerevan's Ajapnyak district
  • Tumanyan's native village of Dsegh was renamed Tumanyan in his honor in 1938, before being changed back to Dsegh in 1969.[13]

Outside of Armenia:

There are 2 museums dedicated to Tumanyan in Armenia, one in his birthplace Dsegh and another one in Yerevan.[3] Tumanyan's museum in Yerevan was opened in 1953.[18]

In Autumn of 2011 the government of Armenia purchased a flat that Tumanyan had lived in in Tbilisi from its Georgian owner and in 2017 opened it as a museum and cultural center.[19]

In popular culture[edit]


The following films were adapted from Hovhannes Tumanyan's works.

Postage stamps, banknotes and coins[edit]

Collections in Armenian[edit]

  • The Complete Works, Vol I-X, Yerevan, 1988-1999

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e ТУМАНЯ́Н Ова­нес Та­де­во­со­вич. Great Russian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c Jrbashyan, E. "Hovhannes Tumanyan Biography". armenianhouse.org. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Թումանյան Հովհաննես (in Armenian). Դպրոցական Մեծ Հանրագիտարան, Գիրք II. 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Adjarian, Hrachia (1909). Classification des dialectes arméniens [Classification of Armenian dialects] (PDF) (in French). Paris: Librairie Honore Champion. p. 72. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 5, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  5. ^ ԹՈՒՄԱՆՅԱՆԻ ՏՈՀՄԸ (in Armenian). Հովհաննես Թումանյանի թանգարան. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  6. ^ a b ԿՐԹՈՒԹՅՈՒՆ (in Armenian). Հովհաննես Թումանյանի թանգարան. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  7. ^ Туманян Ованес Тадевосович (in Russian). РКНК. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  8. ^ Ամուսնությունը (in Armenian). Հովհաննես Թումանյանի թանգարան. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "The Children" Զավակները (in Armenian). Հովհաննես Թումանյանի թանգարան. 2014. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  10. ^ ՀՈՎՀ. ԹՈՒՄԱՆՅԱՆԸ ԵՒ ՈՐԲԱԽՆԱՄ ԳՈՐԾԸ (in Armenian). ՀՈՎՀ. ԹՈՒՄԱՆՅԱՆԸ ԵՒ ՈՐԲԱԽՆԱՄ ԳՈՐԾԸ. Archived from the original on February 17, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  11. ^ Hovannes Tumanian – Great Armenian popular poet, native of Lori.
  12. ^ "Tumanyan Matchbox Label Museum".
  13. ^ Kiesling, Rediscovering Armenia, p. 67, available online at the US embassy to Armenia's website Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "ул. Ованеса Туманяна на карте Киева – Mapia.ua". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  15. ^ "Ovanes Tumaniani St · Tbilisi, Georgia".
  16. ^ "ул. Туманяна на карте Донецка – Mapia.ua". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  17. ^ "Сочи: улица Туманяна, 13А на карте с номерами домов". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  18. ^ ՀՈՎՀԱՆՆԵՍ ԹՈՒՄԱՆՅԱՆԻ ԹԱՆԳԱՐԱՆԻ ՊԱՏՄՈՒԹՅՈՒՆԸ (in Armenian). Archived from the original on October 25, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  19. ^ "Hovhannes Tumanyan House in Tbilisi - armeniapedia.org". armeniapedia.org. Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  20. ^ a b Туманян (in Russian). Большая советская энциклопедия. 1977. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  21. ^ ՀՈՎՀԱՆՆԵՍ ԹՈՒՄԱՆՅԱՆԻ ՍՏԵՂԾԱԳՈՐԾՈՒԹՅՈՒՆՆԵՐԸ ԿԻՆՈՅՈՒՄ (in Armenian). Հովհաննես Թումանյանի թանգարան. Archived from the original on April 8, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  22. ^ ՀՈՎՀ. ԹՈՒՄԱՆՅԱՆԻ ՍՏԵՂԾԱԳՈՐԾՈՒԹՅՈՒՆՆԵՐԸ ՄՈՒԼՏՖԻԼՄԵՐՈՒՄ (in Armenian). Հովհաննես Թումանյանի թանգարան. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  23. ^ "Hunter the Liar". Armenian Association of Film Critics and Cinema Journalists. Retrieved July 12, 2012.

Further reading[edit]

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