We promise to make you feel the spirit of the Armenian Highlands. This embodies everything we do.
QAMI JAN translates to “Wind, my dear,” but these words convey deeper meanings. Our culture understands “wind” (qami) as synonymous with the word “spirit.” And addressing someone as “my dear” (jan) means you are speaking to that person’s breathing essence or “soul.”
In this way, QAMI JAN is a personified version of the Armenian spirit, which can transform you and equally be transformed by your intervention.
Read on to learn how we first felt the "QAMI JAN..."
It was November. We were racing against the setting sun, because where we were didn’t exactly have streetlights. I had shown my colleague several monasteries in Artsakh that day, and left Gandzasar for last because it was on the way back to Shushi, where we were staying. When we approached the medieval monastery, it was closed. But I found the caretaker, and without much commotion or inquiry, he dutifully unlocked for us the large wooden door to the cathedral. And then he left us alone.
The wind started howling. We stood in the sanctuary. It was dim. My colleague set to work; taking photos of the founding inscriptions. (We had received a research grant to study several thirteenth century Armenian monasteries, which a certain
dictatorship claimed were not Armenian at all but Caucasian Albanian. Oh, if only it were still 2014, and that’s the most we were arguing over.)
Unlike many cathedrals in Artsakh, where the founding inscriptions are written on the exterior façade of the church, at Gandzasar, they are carved into the sanctuary walls. The founder, Hasan Jalal, “Prince of Armenia,” wanted his testament, his name, engraved into the cathedral’s holiest space. The wind grew stronger, and now it sounded like the cathedral itself was groaning. My colleague was terrified. “Hurry up. Let’s get out of here!” she commanded. I was standing in front of the altar, praying. I hadn’t noticed how dark it had gotten.
Usually, I am jumpy and scared of most things. But that evening, I felt peaceful. Through the calls of the wind, I could make out my ancestors’ thoughts. I could hear the priests who had been tortured in the garden and refused to sacrifice their creed. Each was greeting me. Telling me their story. Professing their faith.
That’s what it means to be from a place. And we Armenians are so lucky to be from somewhere, even if we can’t go back there (for now). Years later, I texted my friend Taleen, to tell her I was starting (another) company. It was two years after the 2020 invasion of Artsakh, and I needed a positive association with all things Armenian—anything Armenian—because everything I read and saw just led to pain. My pro bono work (I’m a lawyer by profession) had left me with vicarious PTSD, and a feeling that I had done much work but accomplished little.
Remembering that evening in Gandzasar, when I felt so alive, with a sense of not only place, but purpose and self, I decided to call the company "QAMI JAN." I wanted everyone to feel as unafraid as I had felt. To hear the wind, and be connected, vertically across time, from the past to the future generations, as well as horizontally in time, in this moment, to each other.
- Yelena Ambartsumian Founder, QAMI JAN