From Isfahan to Moscow: What story does the Lazaryan Ring have to tell?

From Isfahan to Moscow: What story does the Lazaryan Ring have to tell?
Fragment of the ring with an intaglio male profile. White metal, agate. 18th-19th centuries.
Mos.ru looks at the Lazaryans, an illustrious family that founded an institution, where Ivan Turgenev and Konstantin Stanislavsky were educated.

The Museum of Moscow presents the “Finds on My Street” exhibition of the most interesting archaeological artefacts unearthed during this year’s landscaping campaign in central Moscow. This History of Things issue focuses on its central display item.

The Lazaryan Ring is the conventional name of a find made in the vicinity of 2 Armyansky Pereulok. Dating back to the latter half of the 18th century or the first half of the 19th century, this silver ring has an oval agate insert with an engraved male profile.

The Lazaryan Ring is the conventional name of a find made in the vicinity of 2 Armyansky Pereulok. Dating back to the latter half of the 18th century or the first half of the 19th century, this silver ring has an oval agate insert with an engraved male profile.

It is assumed that the owner of this ring with an agate intaglio could have been a woman from the family of Lazar Lazaryan (1700-1782), a wealthy Armenian merchant who owned property in this part of Moscow.

Fragment of the ring with an intaglio male profile. White metal, agate. 18th-19th centuries.

Born into the family of a rich Armenian merchant in Persia’s capital city, Isfahan, Lazar Lazaryan was a well-educated person and a confidant of the shah. He served as an interpreter when Russian Emperor Peter the Great held talks with Persia.

In 1758, he bought a house in Moscow and a silk factory in Fryanovo (the Bogoroditsky uyezd) near Moscow, which manufactured Russia’s best silk fabrics for the Imperial Court and palace interiors. He conducted trade with Europe, promoted silk production, mining and jewellery making, and facilitated Armenian immigration to Russia. In 1774, Empress Catherine the Great conferred the hereditary nobility status on the Lazarevs (as Lazar Lazaryan and his children were now called).

The Lazarevs were expanding their domain in Moscow with a view to “establishing a school for the benefit of their nation.” The 1812 Patriotic War interrupted their work, nevertheless the school opened in 1815. In 1835, it was given the status of gymnasium and in 1848 it was reconstituted as the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages. Some of the more famous graduates of this institution were Russian statesman Mikhail Loris-Melikov, writer Ivan Turgenev and stage director Konstantin Stanislavsky.

After 1917, the Lazarev Institute was disbanded and its main building was handed over to Yevgeny Vakhtangov’s theatre studio. In 1921, Armenia made the Lazarev mansion its Palace of Culture. Between 1953 and 1977, it housed the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Currently, the former Lazarev Institute is the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation. An obelisk installed in front of its entrance in 1822 survives to this day and commemorates the Lazarev family.

The Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation

The Lazaryan Ring and other archaeological artefacts found in Moscow earlier this year can be seen at the “Finds on My Street” exhibition at the Museum of Moscow until 17 October.

For other History of Things stories – 19th-century fast food, first Moscow bikers and their habits, old dolls and other interesting items from the Museum of Moscow collection – see: https://www.mos.ru/en/news/maintheme/96287/