Sayat Nova: King of Songs

Sayat Nova was wonderful, ingenious, endowed musician and poet, he wrote more then 220 songs, poems in many languages mainly in Armenian , but also in Persian, Georgian and Azeri Turkish. He also knew Arabic.

He was officially recognized as the greatest “ashough” (folk singer-songwriter) that ever lived in the Caucasus.


Although he lived in deeply religious society, his works are alluring, loveable, sweet and full of romantic expressionism.

In 1969 Sergei Parajanov directed a film about him. It was released in the United States under the title “The color of pomegranates”.

The world-known Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian wrote an opera called “Sayat Nova”. There is a street and a music school named after him in Yerevan, also brand of Armenian Cognac.

Here is the translation of Sayat Nova’s I Traveled the World (“Tamam Ashkharh Ptut Eka”), very popular in Armenian folklore:

I traveled the world, even to Ethiopia
but I never saw anything to compare
with your eyes looking back.
Wear sack cloth, wear gold cloth,
your clothes become precious
when you walk in them, coquette.
Whoever sees you says: Just look at that!

You’re a jewel, a ruby.
Whoever has you is happy.
Whoever finds you never feels sorry
for the one who has lost you.
Blessed be the parents who bore you.
Death arrives always early.
But if one is to live, let it be
as an artist,
an artist painting you.

You are a jewel by birth,
a gem set in gold clothes.
Your hair a halo,
your eyes golden crystal.
Your eyelids shaped
from the wheel of the world’s
most wonderful potter.
Your eyelashes, arrows and knives.

Your face, I should describe only
in French and in Persian:
The sun and the moon.
The pencil fails
in the hand of the artist.
When you sit you’re a mulberry bird,
when you stand you’re
a fairytale steed.

I am no longer that Sayat-Nova
who used to rest on the sands.
What are your wishes?
You are fire, dressed in fire.
Which fire can I withstand?
I want to understand the heart
beating inside you.
But you have covered it over
with Indian embroideries, tapestries of gold and of silver,
my coquette, my flirt.


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