ADVANTAGES

Chennai, Dhaka, Kolkata, Mumbai, Singapore and Penang share more than one thing in common. All old trading cities, they were settled by Armenians and each still has an Armenian street. In Penang, it is called Lebuh Armenian. Armenians originating from Persia had arrived in Penang by 1800. They were but a small minority, numbering fewer than 180 over the next 150 years, yet they played a noticeable role in Penang’s economic and civic life. Nadia Wright gives a brief cultural account of the Armenians, explaining their names, and trading connections. Giving statistics on their numbers, Nadia discusses Armenians’ contributions to Penang’s development, and the factors leading to the demise of the community. Nadia comments on the early merchants. These include the philanthropic Carapiet Arackell; generous doyen of the community Catchatoor Galastaun, who largely funded the Armenian Church, and the Anthony family whose members formed the mainstay of the community for three generations. As well, there are the hoteliers spear headed by Martin and Tigran Sarkies, not forgetting Dr Thaddeus Avetoom and the Georgetown Dispensary, and the jewellers: the Ipekdjians and the Gregorys. Nadia looks at what has been lost: the Armenian Church, parsonage and graveyard, and what remains. This includes the E&O Hotel, the stock broking firm of A.A. Anthony, plus the inevitable tombstones.

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