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29 May 2015

Petrus Uscan: After I Die Cut Out My Heart and Send It To Julfa

As I slowly transcribe all 179 pages of Petrus Uscan's will,  a couple of items have caught my attention.

The first page states:

"I Petrus Uscan desire my executors to perform the same and followth viz.

In India in the town of Madraspatnam January 19th 1750 I made this my last will before my Creator Almighty God and my confessor and Reverend Padryes and Armenian gentlemen.

I Petrus Uscan native of Julpha descended from Armenians, at the abovementioned time do declare my faith and find myself by the Grace of God, in good health, sound senses firm memory and apprehension.

But knowing that death is certain to all mankind and having the said certainty, do now prepare myself with those things which may make my conscience easy, and give rest to my soul. I do firmly believe in the Most High Majesty of the Trinity of Father the Son and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one true God, and in all mysteries, which are Mother Catholick and Apostolic Church of Roman believes, professeth and teacheth. In which our Illuminator Saint Gregory believed and teached to his followers, in whose faith we are to believe and die orthodox and faithfull Christians and in the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Mass High Queen of the angels who conceived without sin, and is an advocate for us in heaven......."

In this detailed and meticulous Will, these points sprang out at me

(1) The European physician who was tasked with cutting out his heart, was paid 100 Pagodas.
(2) The box his heart was put in for the journey to Julfa cost 12 pagodas.
(3) And then.......he was pretty miffed at the Armenian Church for "squandering" its money, so much so, he wrote it in his Will and left them nothing bar a meagre 100 Pagodas to be given to the poor.

Here are a couple of other things that caught my eye.

On how he wanted to be buried:

"......they [his executors]  shall purchase a habit of the Franciscan Order with which habit they shall dress my corps and lay the same in a coffin........." 

Bemoaning how it was difficult sometimes for Petrus Uscan to sell his merchandise:

"......And there were two small chests of opium which lay at Madrass for several years and no one would buy them for 15 or 20 Rupees..........."

On how some men were simply not to be trusted, and he had fallen for one of them:

"....God deliver us from unexperienced and fantastical men....."

This is by far the longest and largest Armenian Will written in India and it makes for fascinating reading.

Oil painting of Petus Uscan circ 1737

Image courtesy of "New Julfa. The Armenian Churches And Other Buildings" by John Carswell.