April 18, 2012 Library Marks 500th Anniversary of Armenian Printing With Exhibition, Publication

Exhibition to Open on Vardanants Day, April 19

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Levon Avdoyan (202) 707-5680
Contact: View the exhibition here. | Members of the media can find downloadable images from this exhibition in the Library's online pressroom at www.loc.gov/pressroom/

In 1512, Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner) opened an Armenian press in Venice, Italy, and published an Armenian religious book, “Urbatagirk” (the Book of Fridays). The era of Armenian printing had begun.

To mark the quincentenary of this event and UNESCO’s designation of Yerevan—the capital of the Republic of Armenia—as its Book Capital of the World, 2012, the Library of Congress will open an exhibition, “To Know Wisdom and Instruction: The Armenian Literary Tradition at the Library of Congress” on April 19, in the South Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building. The exhibition, which will remain on view from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, through Sept. 26, may also be viewed online at www.loc.gov/exhibits/.

Drawing from the Armenian collections of the Library of Congress, the exhibition will display the varieties of the Armenian literary tradition from the era of manuscripts through the early periods of print and on to contemporary publishing.

Manuscripts in the exhibition will range from 14th- and 15th-century gospel books hand-copied by monks to 19th-century works on palmistry (Constantinople, 1894), fire-fighting (Venice, 1832), cotton production (Paris, 1859) and the first modern Armenian novel, “Armenia’s Wounds,” by K. Abovyan (1848). The first complete Armenian language printed Bible from Amsterdam in 1666 will be on display, along with a richly illuminated missal copied in 1722 for the use of the celebrant of the Armenian liturgy and a rare 19th-century musical manuscript by Pietro Bianchini, who was the first to transcribe the Armenian liturgy using European musical notation. A 20th-century Soviet edition of the Armenian national epic, “David of Sasun” (1962) will also be on display.

The 16th Annual Vardanants Day Lecture will be delivered by Kevork Bardakjian, the Marie Manoogian Chair of Armenian Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at noon on Thursday, April 19 in the Northeast Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building. The lecture, titled “Scribes, Compositors and the Mind in the Making: the Armenian Script and the Creation of an Armenian Literary Identity,” is sponsored by the Near East Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division. Bardakjian will be joined by Levon Avdoyan, the Library’s Armenian and Georgian area specialist in the Near East Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division, who will discuss “The Continuity and Change of an Armenian Identity in the Digital Age.” Avdoyan is curator of the new Armenian exhibition. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but seating is limited.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Library of Congress has published an exhibition catalog titled “To Know Wisdom and Instruction: A Visual Survey of the Armenian Literary Tradition from the Library of Congress,” compiled by Avdoyan. This 100-page softcover book with 75 images is available for $25 in bookstores nationwide and through the Library of Congress Shop, www.loc.gov/shop/, (888) 682-3557.

The exhibition and catalog have been made possible through generous grants from the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund, the Dadian Fund of the Library of Congress, Roger Strauch and Julie Kulhanjian Strauch, the Vartkess and Rita Balian Family Foundation and the Sami and Annie Totah Family Foundation.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division (www.loc.gov/rr/amed/) is the center for the study of 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East and the Caucasus to Central Asia. The division’s Near East Section is a major repository for Armenian language materials on a wide variety of subjects in varied formats.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through it website at www.loc.gov.

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PR 12-084
2012-04-18
ISSN 0731-3527