The owner of “One Thousand and One Roses” was Armenian, a boy from Dörtyol who had been orphaned during the Genocide and had made it to Aleppo. His name was Hovhannes Haroutyunian. He had dedicated himself to growing flowers on a small plot of land in the neighborhood of Azizieh, which was both his home and his place of work. He was the first flower grower and florist in Aleppo, which, at the time, was an important but still provincial city. Alongside carnations, he was the first in the city to grow gladioli and dahlias (the dahlias he grew can be seen in the photographs).
It is not clear how he was able to obtain such a choice plot of land in the city’s best neighborhood (even today, Azizieh is considered to be almost the only ancient and upper-class district of Aleppo). Perhaps, like many other orphans who had reached the city after the Genocide, he had learned a craft and had been able to purchase the land with the money he had earned. He died in 1990. Today, the One Thousand and One Roses store still stands in Aleppo, in the corner of that same plot of land. But it is in ruins, and only grass grows there.
I wish these memories could function like the ancient seeds in the garden of Minerva, in Salerno, which when discovered during an archaeological excavation was once again fertilised by light and water and blossomed with species that no longer existed.
One Thousand and One Roses
aus der Serie “Texture of Identity”
Farbig laminierte Foto-Reproduktionen, Baumwollgarn und Wolle
250 x 86 cm
Courtesy Silvina Der-Meguerditchian