Armenian printing

After the invention of the mechanical printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany (circa 1439), Armenians from throughout the diaspora began to publish Armenian-language books. The first book which had Armenian letters was published in Mainz (Germany) in 1486. The first Armenian book to be published by the printing press was Urbatagirq—Book of Friday prayers—which was published by Hakob Meghapart in Venice in 1512.

The history of Armenian book printing is the history of the publication and mass distribution of texts in Armenian. The first text in Armenian was published in 1475 in Germany. The founder of Armenian book printing was Hakob Megapart, who published five books in Venice in 1512-1513. The Armenian language became the 18th language of the world, on which books were printed in the Gutenberg way.

In 1771 it became possible to organize printing on the territory of Armenia itself. Before January 1, 1800, more than 1154 titles of books were published in Armenian. Since the 1920s Armenia became the main center of Armenian book printing. At present, Armenian printing is developing both in Armenia itself and in the countries of residence of the Armenian diaspora. Book printing played an important role in preserving the Armenian cultural heritage.

In the thirteenth century, Anton the Armenian from Venice, along with Marco Polo, was a member of the expedition to China, as a result of which, according to some assumptions, the Europeans borrowed the xylographic printing technique. Nikolai Gavrilovich Spafari-Milesku, who visited China in 1676 together with the Russian embassy, wrote: “The guns of the lithium, and they walk around the sea mats, and so did the books they printed from the Chinese in Europe. Inasmuch as the Kalmyks and Tartars took China, and with them have come to China Oderik Father, and Anton Armenian and Marco Paul venetsyanin, and truly they are in Europe from China are brought artistry “. This is confirmed by a prominent Russian researcher of writing and book printingE. L. Nemirovsky.

In the 15th century and the next almost 250-year period, the development of book printing within the historical region of Armenia was virtually impossible – due to the lack of statehood, political instability, endless wars and related destruction, and also because of the lack of links with European cultural centers.

The first printed text in Armenian (the prayer ” Our Father “, recruited in Latin) was published in the description of the travel of Johann Schiltberger, published in Mainz in 1475. The author has devoted several chapters to Armenia, in which he cites certain Armenian words (also Latin). The prayer “Our Father” in Armenian, according to Shildberger, was taught to him by the Karabakh Armenians in 1420 :

Har myer ur erqink; es sur eytza annun chu; ka archawun chu; jegetzi kam chu [worpes] hyerginckch yer ergory; hatz meyr anhabas tur myes eisor; yep theug meys perdanatz hentz myengkch theugunch meyrokch perdapanatz; yep my theug myes y phurtzuthiun; haba prige myes y tzscharen. Amen

In 1486, Bernard von Braindenbach in the book “Journey to the Sacred Land” printed the Armenian text in a xylographic way. This text contains the Armenian alphabet, in which letters are also given in parallel.

Thus, the first printed texts in Armenian appeared in the era of the Incunabula.

XVI century. The first printer Acop Megapart
The first publisher of the book in Armenian was a certain priest named Hakob. To his name in the future was added the nickname “Megapart” (“sinful”), according to the memorandum left by him. The first book published by Megapart is called ” Urbatagirk ” (Book of Friday), it was printed in 1512 in Venice. It should be noted that by this time a centuries-old Armenian community existed in Italy. This date is considered to be the beginning of the history of Armenian book printing [Comm 1]. “Urbatagirk” is a medieval medical collection in which, along with other texts, the 41st chapter of the ” Book of Mournful Chants “Grigor Narekatsi (10th century). In the following year, 1513, Megapart published four more books (in chronological order): Pataragatetr (canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church), Akhtark (collection of astrological treatises, articles on healing), Parsatumar (36 years and predictions), Tagaran (collection of works by prominent medieval Armenian authors, such as Nerses Shnorali (12th c.), Frik (13th c.), Mkrtich Nagash (XV c.), Hovhannes Tluranzi (16th c.) and others.). Memorable entry is only at the end of “Pataragatetra”:

” These holy letters were written in the year 962 (1513 of the Nativity of Christ) in the God-protected city of Vienna, which is Venice, in Franconia, by the hand of the sinful Hakob. He who reads (them), let him ask of God the remission of my sins. ”

At the end of the books published by Hakob, a cross-shaped sign with Latin letters DIZA was printed. Unambiguous decoding does not lend itself. The most recognized version of K. Basmajyan : Dei servus – slave of God, Iakobus – Hakob, Zanni – Cagni (yang), armenius – Armenian. The books are printed in black and red, well illustrated. According to the corresponding member of the RAS A. Sidorov, Megaparta’s publications were brought to Moscow and used by the Russian pioneer Ivan Fyodorov.

Abgar Tohatetsi is considered the second Armenian book-printing company. He was a prominent figure in the Armenian liberation movement of the late 16th century. Being in Italy with a special political mission , he founded the printing business, having received the appropriate permission from Pope Pius IV. In 1565, at his own printing house in Venice, he prints a calendar and a ” Psalter “. Later, Tokateci moved to Constantinople, where he published six more books in 1567-1569: “Small grammar or alphabet”, “Tonatsuits” (calendar of church holidays), “Parzatumar” (calendar), “Pataragamatuyts-Ahotamatuits”, “Songbook” and ” Mashtots”(A collection of church rituals). In 1579 his son Sultanshah in Rome ordered new Armenian print fonts, which later became the most common in the Armenian printing (corpus). On their basis lay the font bolargir. Through the efforts of the Sultan Shah and Hovhannes Terznzi, who moved from Armenia to Rome (1584), the Gregorian Calendar (at the Dominici Basea printing house) is published, as well as church and religious texts. In Venice in 1587 he published a hymnal. The last of the well-known editions of the Armenian book printers of the 16th century is called “The Short Teaching of the Church Service,” it was published in 1596.

Some European authors of the same period placed Armenian printed or xylographic texts in their books. For example, in the book “Linguarum” (lat.) Orientalist Guillaume Postel, published in 1538 in Paris published an Armenian xylographic text. Similar texts are also available in the following editions: Kondrat Gesner, “Mithridat” (Zurich, 1555), Blaise de Wijner “The Book of Writings” (Paris, 1586), Peter Getanii Palma, “Samples” (Paris, 1596). The Armenian texts are movable (Gutenberg) fonts in the book “Introduction” of the Italian orientalist Thezeia Ambrosius (1539) and in the books of the German Leonard Turnerzer (Berlin, 1583, Cologne, 1587). According to the existing data, during the first hundred years of the existence of Armenian printing, 32 titles of books were published, 19 of which are Armenian booksellers exclusively in Armenian.

XVII century. Voskanyanovskaya printing house
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Vatican began to show more interest in the peoples of the East, including Armenians, seeking to spread Catholicism among them. To this end, Pope Urban VIII in Rome establishes a special publishing house, where during the XVII century, was printed about 30 titles in the Armenian language, mostly of a religious nature, as well as dictionaries and other collections for the study of the missionaries of the Armenian language. Other printing houses in Europe were established in large Armenian colonies with the financial support of the Armenian commercial bourgeoisie.

Moved from Armenia to Lviv Hovhannes Karmatyants in 1616 creates a printing house and within 1616-1618 prints “Psalms” and “Doctor”.

In 1638 in the church of St. Amenaprakich (the Holy Savior) in the Isfahan Armenian region of New Julf Khachatur Kesaratsi (1590-1646) and several of his associates with their own forces (without a European specialist) design a printing plant and a paper mill. From 1639 to 1642 they publish the Psalms, The Life of the Fathers, The Hordautre (collection of the canons of the church service), and The Hours. Novoduzhulfin Armenian printing house was the first printing house in Iran. Their business is continued by Hovhannes Dzhugaetsi. The last in 1644, having published the “Psalter” in Livorno, moves his printing house to New Djulfa where in 1647 prints “Parzatumar” (calendar). He then undertakes the publication of the Bible, which, however, remains incomplete. With some interruptions, the New Julfa printing house operates to the present day.

However, the most important event in the history of Armenian book printing in the 17th century was the foundation of the Voskanyanovskaya printing house. Catholicos Hakob Dzhugaetsi with the intention of creating a permanent printing house for the Etchmiadzin cathedral sends the church notary Mateos Tsaretsi to Europe. He succeeds in the years 1658-1660 in Amsterdam to establish a printing house (St. Echmiadzin and St. Sarkis). In 1664 Voskan Erevantsi became the head of the printing house, one of the prominent representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia of that era. The printing house in 1669 from Amsterdam moved to Livorno, from there to Marseilles (having received special permission from the French court), where it operated until 1686, having published more than 40 titles of Armenian books. For the first time, the Armenian printing house has been operating for so long and its activity has become so fruitful. Voskanyanovskaya printing house published both religious and secular books: the Bible (1666-1668, the first edition), “The Gymnasium” (1665), “Psalter”, ” Mashtots ” (collection of canons of church service), “Hours”, and also “The book is alphabetical”, “Grammar” (author Voskan Erevantsi), “Geography”, fables Vardan Aygektsi (two editions, 1668 and 1683), “History” of Arakel Davrizhetsi(1669), etc. One of the most remarkable publications published here is “Mathematics” (1675) – the first printed book in the new Armenian language (Ashkharabar). In 1673 in Marseille for the first time taken the full edition of the “Book of Lamentations” Gregory of Narek, but the Catholic Church forbids the publication of the book. Here is published the work of the Armenian linguist-grammarian Hovhannes Olov “Short rhetorical art” (1674), from which a new stage of scientific study of the stylistics of the Armenian language actually begins. The publishing activity of Voskan Erevanzi had a fundamental significance in the history of Armenian book printing. For the first time the circulation of books grew from several hundred copies to several thousand. Circulations were sometimes surprisingly high and Armenian book printers, owning an exclusive church and trade network, successfully distributed their books. Books from this printing house were distinguished by their serviceability (texts), publishing culture. Voskan Yeravantsi practically became the founder of continuous Armenian book printing. His students in different cities create new print shops. Thus, Mateos Vanandeci, having moved to Amsterdam in 1685, develops publishing activity here. There are prominent cultural figures and scientists Tovmas Vanandetsi and Ghukas Vanandetsi. For the first time “History of Armenia” Movses Khorenatsi and “Universal Geography” (both in 1695th), several scientific works of Gukas Vanandetsi are printed. The printing house operated until 1717. In the same year in Venice, the abbey of the mkhitarists was founded.

In 1686 in Venice, the student of Voskan Erevanzi Tadez Amazaspian with the financial support of the trader Gaspar Sagradyan creates a printing house and in 1688 prints a large “Chashotz” (1222 pp., A collection of texts of church services from noon to evening). In 1687, with the financial support of Nahapet Gulnazar, the “Armenian House” of Venice published “Interpretation of the Psalter” – the second edition in the Armenian language. From 1677 to 1678, Kemurchyan published two books in his own printing house in Constantinople, and at the end of the 17th century Sarkis Evdokatsi, Grigor Marzvanetsi and Asatur Konstadnpospocetsi founded the printing press here. The latter two became the main characters of the Armenian printing of Constantinople in the first half of the 18th century. Hovhannes Olovbecomes the most published author in the 300-year (1512-1800) history of the Armenian ancient printed book. He during his lifetime published more than 15 titles of his own and translated works.

In this era in Venice, Armenian books were also printed by Italian and Greek book printers J. Bovis, J. Moretti, Michelangelo Barboni, Antoni Bortoli, Giovanni Basho, Stefano Orlando, Piero Valvazi, Demetriou Teodosiu et al..

XVIII century
Mkhitar Sebastatsi (1676-1749) and his students, settling in Venice, in Italian printing houses published Armenian books of both secular and religious content. Of these books are known “Grammar of the New Armenian Language” (1727) and “Dictionary of the Armenian Language” (vol. I, 1749) Sebastatsi, as well as several other publications. Here also came the Bible (1733) and the “History of Armenia” (1784-1786) by Mikael Chamchyan. By 1789 the Mekhitarists on the island of St. Lazar (Venice) establish their own printing house, which gave their activity a new impetus. Another branch of the Mekhitarists, settling in Trieste in 1775, creates another printing house. Before moving to Vienna, for 35 years, they published about 70 titles of books (of which 25 in Turkish for Turkish-speaking Armenians).

Beginning at the end of the 18th century, Armenian printing gradually moved from the West to the East, and its center became Constantinople, one of the main centers of the Armenian diaspora. This city is number one in the number of titles in Armenian, printed before 1800, with 350 titles. In second place is Venice with about 260 names. In this century, typographers Sarkis Dpir, Martiros Dpir, Chnchin Hovhannes, Stepanos Petrosyan were known in Constantinople and finally the chief printer at the Ottoman CourtPogos Arapyan (1742-1835), who for many decades was one of the leading book publishers of the Ottoman Empire. He organized a noble printing press in Tiflis (Tbilisi) and published books also in Georgian (1781-1783), contributed to the improvement of the Echmiadzin printing house. In Constantinople, the Arapians owned several large printing houses, in which about 150 Armenian high-quality publications appeared in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In all of Constantinople in the late XVIII century there were more than 20 Armenian printing houses, in which the works of historiographers Agatangelos, Favstos Buzand, Yeghishe, Stepanos Orbelian, philosophersDavid Anakhta, Grigor Tatevatsi, Simeon Dzhugaetsi, and others. There were also published alphabets, calendars, songbooks, grammatical works, textbooks, spiritual and religious books.

In the second half of the 18th century, Armenian printing appeared both on the territory of Armenia itself, and in Russia and India. In 1771, the Catholicos Simeon of Yerevan in Etchmiadzin founded the first printing house in the territory of historical Armenia. Here in 1772 the book “Spiritual Garden” (the first edition in the territory of Armenia) is published. Almost 260 years after its inception, Armenian book printing is based in the homeland. A paper mill is also being created in Etchmiadzin. Until the end of the century, about 13 titles of books were published in the Echmiadzin printing house.

At the same time, Armenian printing appears in India. In the city of Madras in 1772-1773, two books were published in the printing house of Shaamir Shaamirian, including his “The Trail of Ambition” – the constitution of the future independent Armenia. Both books are dedicated to the restoration of Armenian statehood. Further, Armenian book printing is developing more in Calcutta. In India, in the city of Madras, the first periodical in Armenian was published – the magazine ” Azdarar ” (1794-1796), edited by Harutyun Shmavonyan.

In 1781, the Novoguzhfiytsia printing press Grigor Khaladanyants published a textbook “Alphabet book”. Until 1788 this printing house publishes about 15 titles of Armenian books, including the works of Nerses Shnorali, Egishe, as well as the Armenian-Russian dictionary (in the authorship of Khaldaryants). After the death of Khaldaryants, the printing house moved to Novy Nakhichevan (1790), from there to Astrakhan (1796). This printing house was the first in the south of Russia. Up to the end of the century about 50 titles of books are printed in three cities.

From 1512 to 1800, Armenian book printing existed in the following cities: Venice, Constantinople, Rome, Paris, Bavia, Zurich, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt (Maini), Lviv, New Julfa, Livorno, Amsterdam, Marseille, London, Leipzig, Padua, Parma, Haarlem, Nuremberg, Izmir, Echmiadzin, Madras, Trieste, Calcutta, St. Petersburg, New Nakhichevan, Astrakhan. During this time, more than 1,154 titles of books were published in Armenian

XIX century
The first half of the XIX century in the history of Armenian typography is characterized by the rivalry of the publications in the ancient Armenian and Armenian languages. So, if in the 17th century only 3 titles of books were printed in the Novoarmian, about 20 in the 18th century, then in the first half of the 19th century this figure increased to 320 titles, and at the end of the same century most of the books were published in the new Armenian language.

In 1801-1920 Armenian book printing continues to develop mainly outside the historical Armenia. An important role was played by the printing house of the Nersisyan Seminary (Tiflis), which operated from 1823 to 1860, publishing not only books, but also periodicals such as “Caucasus”, “Bee of Armenia”, which played a huge socio-cultural role. Here the novel “Wounds of Armenia” (1858) Khachatur Abovyan was published for the first time. In Tiflis Armenian book printing developed on the basis of the printing houses of G. Patkanyan, G. Melkumyan, G. Enfiatchian, G. Martirosyan and several others. In addition to books, they also published more than 170 titles of newspapers and other periodicals. In addition to Tiflis, publications in Armenian were also printed in other cities of the Russian Empire – in Moscow, Petersburg, Baku, Feodosia, Odessa, Kiev, etc.

In the XIX century, however, Constantinople with its 130 Armenian printing houses was the actual center of national book printing. Until 1920, more than 350 titles of Armenian periodicals were printed here. In the city of Izmir, besides hundreds of titles of books, about 50 titles of periodicals were printed. Armenian printing houses also operated in other cities of Turkey.

In 1801-1920 the Armenian printing house of the Mkhitarists was revived. In the St. The works of the Armenian chroniclers, Armenians G. Avetikyan, M.Aggerian, H.Surmelyan (“The New Dictionary of the Armenian Language”, vol. I-II, 1836-1837) are published in Lazare. For more than 200 years, the Mkhitaryan printing house has operated almost continuously, and is the longest-running institution in the history of Armenian printing.

During this period, Armenian printing houses existed in Jerusalem, Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria), Syria (Aleppo, Damascus), Iran (New Julfa, Tehran, Tabriz), France (Paris, Marseilles, Montpellier), England (London, Manchester), Bulgaria (Varna, Ruschuk, Filipe, Sofia, etc.), Romania (Bucharest, Galati, etc.), Cyprus (Nicosia), Sweden (Stockholm), the USA (New York, Boston, Watertown, Fresno, Chicago, Detroit, etc.), Canada (Providence, Georgetown), Greece (Athens), Switzerland (Geneva, Lausanne), Germany (Berlin, Marburg), Hungary (Budapest), etc.

Since the second half of the XIX century, a special role is being played by newly founded national publishing houses. So, for example, by 1880 in Tiflis (Tbilisi) “Tiflis organization of publishing Armenian books” was created, later “Transcaucasian Armenian publishing organization”. At the same time, Armenian publishing houses “The Organization of Book Printers”, “V. Zardaryan “,” P. Palenz “,” A. Ashchyan “(all in Constantinople). Similar national book-publishing organizations operated in Izmir (Turkey), Moscow, Baku.

In Armenia itself, the main center for printing remained Echmiadzin. In this era, Armenian typography also appears in other places: 1827 in Shusha, 1858 in Van, 1863 in Mush, 1876 in Alexandropol, 1890 in Novy Bayazet, in 1909 in Goris, as well as in Karine, Kharberd, Shatakh, Erznka, Kars, Akhalkalaki, Ashtarak. In Erivaniin 1875 Zakaria Gevorgyan (Hakobyan) founded the printing house. The first book printed in Erivan (the calendar) came out at the end of 1875. The second book, printed here, was a collection of poems by Emin Ter-Grigoryan “The Bird” (1876). This printing house also printed the first periodical in Erivani – the messenger “Psak” (“Crown”). Prior to the beginning of the 20th century, the printing presses “Culture”, “Urartia”, “Luys” (“Light”), etc. also operated in Erivan, etc.

According to the encyclopaedic dictionary Brockhaus and Efron during the one-year period of 1892-1893. In the Caucasus, 84 titles of books and articles were published in Armenian, 66 in Georgian and 2 in Azerbaijani languages.

The number of titles of Armenian printed books from 1801 to 1920 reached 15 thousand, the number of titles of periodicals – about 2 thousand.

XX century
Until 1920, more than 460 printing houses were functioning at different times in the world, printing books, magazines and newspapers in Armenian. After Sovietization of Armenia, Erivan became the center of Armenian printing, where in 1921 the State Publishing House was organized. It takes over the functions of editing and organizing printed publications. It publishes political, artistic, children’s and scientific editions with comparatively large editions. Separated from the “Gospechat” publishing house “Luys” (Light), specialized mainly in the field of the publication of educational literature. In 1964, the publishing house “Armgospet” (Haypethrat) was renamed “Hayastan” (Armenia). By 1976, the latter separated the publishing house “Sovetakan grogh” (Soviet writer), which mainly published artistic and literary works. The Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR published monographs of scientific works and other scientific literature,Matenadaran. The Yerevan State University Publishing House has been publishing educational manuals, compilations and scientific monographs since 1922. Since that period, the National Library, the Gitelik (Knowledge) and several others have also been engaged in publishing. In the mid-1980s, there were 30 printing houses in the Armenian SSR. From 1920 to 1986, about 60,000 titles of books in Armenian were printed in Armenia. In the last years of Soviet power, about 750 titles of Armenian books were printed every year in Armenia, with an average circulation of about 10,000. During this period, books and periodicals in Armenian were also printed in other republics of the USSR.

Since 1920 (Sovietization of Armenia) until the 1980s, the main centers of Armenian printing in the diaspora were Istanbul, Cairo and Beirut (the latter is now its main center). At that time, about 21,000 titles of books were printed in the Armenian diaspora. The total number of titles of Armenian prints from 1512 to the end of 1980 exceeds 100 thousand.

Current state
After gaining independence, the beginning of the Karabakh war, as well as the economic blockade of Armenia in the 1990s, the number of books published in the country was sharply reduced. In 1991, 563 book titles were published, in 1992 – 311, in 1993 – 258, and in 1994 – only 224. After the end of hostilities, book publishing in Armenia was revived again. So, if in 1999 577 book titles were printed, then in 2004 – 1078, in 2005 – 1089, and in 2009 this mark reached 2,027 titles, which is almost 3 times more than annually published in the 1980s. At the same time, the circulation has decreased, mainly it ranges from 500 to 1,000 copies. With the formation of market relations in the country, new publishing houses were founded. Currently, there are about 140 publishing houses in Armenia. In 2000-2011, 17,000 book titles were printed in Armenia.

The first Armenian printed fonts were created between 1509-1511 in Venice on the basis of the manuscript type bologorh of the XIII-XV centuries. Samples of these fonts have reached us with the books of the first printer Hakob Megaparta. In 1565, Abgar Tochatezi in Venice produced the fonts of 2 sizes, the varieties of which are still used. In 1636 in Nor-JugBy the efforts of Khachatur Dzhugaetsi, new fonts of 2 sizes were introduced. In 1662, at the request of Mateos Tsaretsi, for the printing house of Amsterdam he etched the fonts of the master of the printing house Elzevirov Van Dyck. These fonts are known as “Biblical letters”. In the early 1770s, new vertical fonts were created in Madras, which in 1770 was collected and published a “New Book, Called Exhortation.” In 1847, new vertical fonts appeared by Mukhtisyan. During the 1850s and 1890s, members of the Venetian Congregation of Mekhitarists Hofer and Aitynyan introduced a number of text and headline fonts. In the years 1855-1856, Aivazovskyand Aramyan, whose fonts are known as Aramyan. Later, the fonts of the Grotesque group were created. In 1939, a group of artists at the head of the artist-fontologist Tagirova in Moscow created a font called Haykakan Sovetakan (Armenian Soviet). Since the 1960s, the fonts “New Armenian”, “Mnatsakanyan”, “Nork”, “Egenein larain”, “Anragitaranain” (Encyclopaedic), “Dprocacan” (School), “Armenui” were introduced.

Source from Wikipedia