The art of New Julfa represents a true synthesis of east and west.28 An excellent example of this are Mrk'uz's wall paintings in the All-Saviour cathedral, whose western models have recently been discovered. Subsequently, four generations of artists from the Hovnat'anean family produced frescos with characteristic floral borders in the Persian style for the churches of Ejmiacin, Agulis, Sorot, Meghri and Varag.
However, by the close of the seventeenth century the climate of tolerance was disappearing in tandem with worsening economic conditions. In order to relieve the pressures on Armenians to convert to Islam, Mrk'uz resorted to discussions on the shared beliefs of Christianity and Islam. These adverse conditions, exacerbated by the Afghan revolt of 1722 and the anarchy following the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747, provoked a wide-scale Armenian exodus to the benefit of several other colonies, but particularly those of south and south-east Asia.29
By the end of the sixteenth century the long struggle between the Ottomans and the Safavids was coming to an end. This allowed the inhabitants of the Armenian plateau a chance of recovery. One of the first indications of renewal was the movement to found the Mec Anapat (The Great Hermitage) near the major monastery of Tat'ew in 1611, which signalled a revival of monastic life. The founders Sargis of Salmosavank' and Kirakos of Trebizond had gone on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to study the traditional eremitic centres in the Judaean desert, as a later community member Nerses Mokac'i celebrates in verse.30 Another important monastery undergoing a revival at this time was Amrdolu in Bitlis under its abbot Barsel Albakec'i (d.1615), who renovated its school and encouraged the study of grammar and theology.31
It was P'ilipos Albakec'i (1632-55) who finally put the affairs of the monastery of Ejmiacin, the primatial see, in order. He re-established its economic
28 See John Carswell, NewJulfa: the Armenian churches and other buildings (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968).
29 Ghougassian, Armenian diocese of New Julfa, 57-168. Armenians spread to a number of entrepots including Rangoon, Singapore and Batavia (Jakarta), Hong Kong, etc., on which see M.J. Seth, Armenians in India (Calcutta: Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, 1983), 614. For a convenient map of the South Asian diaspora, see R. H. Hewsen, Armenia: a historical atlas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 160.
30 A. G. Doluxanyan, Nerses Mokac'i, Banastelcut'yunner [Nerses Mokac'i, Poems] (Erevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1975), 44-63.
31 On this important medieval monastery see Nerses Akinean, Baiesi dproc's [The School of Bitlis] (Vienna: Mxit'arist Press, 1952).
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