Manoug Alemian



AIM: Armenian International Magazine; 2/28/1994; Harry L. Koundakjian - 02-28-1994 - Ethnic NewsWatch © SoftLine Information, Inc., Stamford, CT


Since 1956, his signature has become all but synonymous with an idyllic Lebanon that seems to have emerged unscathed
from civil war and foreign invasions. The signature reads Manoug, and it is an ubiquitous as the photographs of the Roman ruins of Baalbek, the magisterial Lebanese Cedar, and the ancient port cities of Byblos, Sidon and Tyre that adorn the offices of Lebanese diplomatic missions, tourism bureaus and business establishments throughout the world.

Manoug Alemian died on February 17 in Montreal, Canada, of cancer. He was 76. Born in Hama, Syria, Manoug, as he eventually came to be known, studied photography on his own while still a teen-ager, borrowing film money and cameras from relatives.
He later moved to Lebanon, where the living traces of several civilizations, coupled with the lush Mediterranean landscape, would provide ample material for the photographic eye. For Manoug, Lebanon would become a lifetime obsession - and a launching pad for both commercial and critical success.

Fame would also bring a glamorous brush with the movers and shakers of the Middle East. Soon, leaders ranging from Kings Hussein of Jordan, Faisal and Khaled of Saudi Arabia to Presidents Hafez el-Assad of Syria and Camille Chamoun of Lebanon were enlisting Manoug for a shot at immortality.

But perhaps his most awe-inspiring portrait studies remain those of Catholicoi Vazgen I of All Armenians and Karekin II of Cilicia.
The prizes, too, began pouring in: first and second competition prizes from Kodak, 1964, and Nikon, 1969; fist prize for International Tourism Congress photography in 1970 and 1974, for his cave studies; and the Knight of the Order of the Cedars, one of Lebanon's highest civilian medals.

Recently, in Canada, where Manoug had settled with his family, he was decorated by both leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church: an Encyclical and the Mesrob Mashtots Greater Cilicia medal from Catholicos Karekin II, and the Movses Khorenatsi medal from Catholicos Vazgen I. He was also decorated for a second time with Lebanon's Medal of Cedars, Officer's Rank.
The Armenian Reporter; 3/5/1994; Harry L. Koundakjian -03-05-1994- Ethnic NewsWatch © SoftLine Information, Inc., Stamford, CT

A Testimony to Manoug, Decorated Photographer.

NEW YORK, NY - Did you know Manoug Alemian? Of course you did! He was the world-famous photographer from Lebanon who made Baalbeck and its Roman ruins famous, the Cedars eternal and the Biblical port cities of Byblos, Sidon (Saida) and Tyre (Sur) immortal with his pictures during his long residence in Lebanon
It is said that, since Manoug was born in Hama, Syria, in the year 1918, the famous water wheels that pumped water from the river for irrigation, provided his first lessons in photography and artistry.

A self-made man, Manoug, as he eventually went on to be known worldwide, studied photography on his own, borrowing relatives' cameras and sometimes borrowing money to buy film. He was only 16 then.

And then one day, taking on the challenge, he arrived in the Lebanon to face the world.

He drove around the country with his cameras and films, sometimes waiting days for the correct light of the sun and clouds before clicking the shutter.

Accepting invitations from many a Middle Eastern head of state, he was soon photographing presidents and kings. Among them were King Hussein of Jordan; King Faisal, and King Khaled of Saudi Arabia, Presidents Hafez el-Assad of Syria and Camille Chamoun of Lebanon and General Mustafa Tlass of Syria. But his most serious face studies were those of Catholicoi Vazken I of Etchmiadzin and Karekin II of Cilicia.
Since 1956, his exquisite views of Lebanon have decorated the offices of all Lebanese diplomatic missions, tourism bureaus, Middle East Airlines offices around the world, and offices of all Lebanese who have business branches around the world. The signature reads

His prizes began coming in. From Kodak, 1964, 1st prize in a competition; 2nd prize for photography in Munich, Germany, 1967; 2nd prize for Nikon's competition in 1969 in Japan; 1st prize for International Tourism Congress photography in 1970 and 1974 in Spain, for the world speleology pictures.

In 1975, Manoug was the winner of prominent Lebanese Druze poet Said Akl's art exhibit prize and was decorated with the Lebanese government's "Chevalier de L'Ordre du Cedres" (Knight of the Order of the Cedars), one of the country's highest civilian medals.
Recently, in Canada, where he sought asylum with his family from the disastrous fratricidal Lebanese war, Manoug was decorated by both leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church. His Holiness Karekin II of Cilicia honored him with an encyclical and the Mesrob Mashdotz Greater Cilicia medal and, from Etchmiadzin, His Holiness Vazken I bestowed on him to Movses Khorenatsi medal.

Lebanon, in the person of its representative to Ottawa, Consul General Elynne Alem, decorated him for the second time with the Medal of Cedars, Officer's Rank, (Officier de l'Ordre des Cedres), one of the country's highest distinctions.

Who said art does not pay?
I am proud to have known him all the years that I was press photographer with The Associated Press in the Middle East, based in Beirut, and I am prouder to have been accepted by him all these years.

Featured Works

 Artisanat - Le Tissage
Artisanat - Le Tissage

L'artisanat confine à l'art même et ouvriers et ouvrières utilisent des techniques traditionnelles transmises depuis de nombreuses générations.
Le Liban possède la technique du tissage sur métier, d'une tradition artisanale et d'une richesse inventive originale. A Zouk, se trouve une école subventionnée par l'Etat ou un moniteur forme et perfectionne les ouvriers qui sont tisserands de père en fils, et utilisent le même genre de métier. On y fait d'admirables nappes brodées d'or et d'argent, sur fond de couleur, des étoles de sacs, des jetés de table et des abayas.

Art and Crafts - Weaving
Lebanon has its own tradition of hand-loom weaving, a tradition that displays great inventive skill. At Zouk there is a school subsidized by the state where an instructor gives advanced training to weavers who have inherited the craft from their fathers, using the same kind of loom. They weave beautiful cloths embroidered in gold and silver on a colored ground, shawls, bags, table runners and abayas.

 Baalbeck: Temple
Baalbeck: Temple "de Bacchus" plafond du péristyle

Les ruines de Baalbek, au milieu des vergers de la Bekaa à 1150m. d'altitude, forment un ensemble monumental d'une majesté saisissante.
Le temple "de Bacchus", construit au 2ème siècle de notre ère est encore presque intact. Sa décoration, fort bien conservée, est d'une finesse et d'une richesse incomparables. L'entablement des colonnes du péristyle est relié au mur de la cella par d'énormes dalles qui forment un plafond à caissons sculptées où sont représentées diverses divinités.

Baalbeck: Temple "of Bacchus" Ceiling of the peristyle
The ruins of Baalbeck stand among the orchards of the Bekaa at an altitude of nearly 4.000 feet.
The so-called "Temple of Bacchus", built in the second century A.D. is still almost intact. Its sculptured decoration, marvelously fine as well as rich, is also very well preserved. The entablature of the columns of epistyle is joined to the wall of the cells by enormous block forming a coffered ceiling decorated with sculptured representations of the gods.

 Very old photo by Manoug showing the Virgin Mary of Harisa
Very old photo by Manoug showing the Virgin Mary of Harisa
 Jeune fille - Andrée Nakhlé
Jeune fille - Andrée Nakhlé
 Young Lady - Andrée Nakhlé
Young Lady - Andrée Nakhlé
 Young Lady - Andrée Nakhlé
Young Lady - Andrée Nakhlé