"To Know Wisdom and Instruction": The Armenian Literary Tradition at the Library of Congress
In 1512, at a period in which the number of manuscripts copied into the Armenian language was relatively low, Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner) created the first Armenian press in Venice, Italy. There he published the first printed Armenian book, the Urbatagirk‘ (The Book of Fridays), which inaugurated what became a rich printed literary tradition. Although initially concentrated on the production of religious texts, printing in the Armenian language led to an enlightenment beginning in the seventeenth century and a rebirth of Armenian scholarship in history, literature, science, and geography.
This exhibition honors the 500th anniversary of the first printed Armenian book and the decision by UNESCO to designate Yerevan, the capital of the Republic of Armenia, as its World Book Capital 2012. These objects from the Armenian collections of the Library of Congress have been chosen to illustrate the Armenian literary tradition. To Know Wisdom and Instruction celebrates that tradition, as well as the growing role of the Near East Section at the Library of Congress as a major research center for scholars who study the Armenian people and their neighbors.
The ancient country of Armenia, located on the Armenian Plateau in Eastern Anatolia in the middle of a well-traversed land bridge between east and west, is known as “Hayastan” to its people, who call themselves “Hay.”
From Manuscript to Print
During the sixteenth century, the Armenian homeland was fragmented and divided among powerful clans and nations, each attempting to control it.
The Eighteenth and Nineteeth Centuries
The eighteenth century is considered a period of an Armenian enlightenment as the subjects of Armenian publications expanded to include a broader spectrum of disciplines.
The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Publication in Armenian in the twentieth century centered in the second and third Armenian republics of the period.