Tribute to Our Heros : Addai Alkhas (1897-1959)

In these series of articles we will introduce some of our Assyrian heroes who influenced us so much by their works of literature, arts, politics and activism. Our first hero is Addai Alkhas because he is so relevant to AAS-A Central Valley Mesopotamian Night project. Addai Alkhas’s translation of the Gilgamesh Epic to Assyrian Aramaic is one of the most important literary works in modern Assyrian. This book which was published in 1965 in Tehran, Iran almost has been forgotten. AAS-A intends to revive this important work of literature. This effort started two years ago when AAS-A Central Valley teamed up with American composer John Craton to create the first Assyrian opera based on this work. In other posts in this blogspot, we have reported the progress made in this opera project. It is fascinating that now an Assyrian musician Pastor Samuel Khangaldy has also joined in to create another work based on this same literary work. Excerpts from both these musical compositions will be presented at the third annual Mesopotamian Night concert in Modesto on August 15, 2009.

Who was Rabi Addai Alkhas?

Rabi Addai Alkhas was born in the city of Urmia (Iran) at the height of a period of broad Assyrian cultural achievement. After graduating from the Catholic Mission School in Urmia, he enrolled at Khosrawa Seminary, which used to be located outside Salamas, to advance his education in philosophy and theology. By the time he graduated, he had gained fluency in Assyrian Aramaic, Syriac, Persian, French and Latin. In 1951 in Tehran, Rabi Addai, along with his brother Rabi Jean Alkhas (1908-1969), and Rabi Nimrod Simono (1908-2004) established a publishing house from which they issued the highly prized Assyrian literary magazine, Gilgamesh. This publication marks the start of the revival of the literary Assyrian movement in Iran, nearly destroyed by World War I and the Assyrian Genocide that took place in Iran and Turkey.

For his contribution to Assyrian culture, Rabi Addai Alkhas is known as the father of the modern Assyrian literary movement.