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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Armenian folk singers, who were also mimes and actors.

The term gusan was originally used for servitors in the temple of the god Gisane; in the Hellenistic Age, gusans were participants in farcical and satirical presentations. Tragedians were called vokhbergu-gusans (who mourned the fallen hero) and dzainarku-gusans (who called for sorrow and grief); the performers of high comedy were called kataka-gusans. The gusan songs are mentioned, even in the most ancient Armenian literary works, by such fifth-century historians as Agafangel, Pavstos Buzand, Movses Khorenatsi, and Egishe.

The gusans sang songs with musical accompaniment, mainly at feasts, weddings, and funerals. They also performed songs about the wanderers and homeless (garibi), epic songs, and mythical songs. The Christian church persecuted the gusans, since they sang of earthly love and the feats of folk heroes and ridiculed church customs and rites. In the 17th century Armenian folk singers began to be called ashugs.


Poeziia Armenii. Edited by V. Briusov. Moscow, 1916.
Abeghian, M. Hin gusanakan Zhoghovrdakan erger. Yerevan, 1931.
Nuyni, Gusanakan zhoghovrdakan tagher, hayrenner yev antuniner. Yerevan, 1940.
Levonian, G. T’atronĕ hin Hayastanum. Yerevan, 1941.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.