A Comparative Analysis of Print and Manuscript Samples


Vardan G. Devrikyan
Vardan Deverikyan’s article, “The Five Publications of Hakob Meghabart,” examines the first printed Armenian publications by Hakob Meghapart in Venice, 1512-13, according to the sequence of their printing.

By examining all of his books individually, the article illustrates how the first Armenian printer carried on the Armenian manuscript tradition from the previous era and with which guiding principles, prior to printing. Meghapart’s publications are examined thematically and contextually. The article highlights Meghapart’s publications, which were conditioned by the following motives:

a. To disseminate a number of manuscript collections notable in contemporary Armenian environment through printing that had begun in Europe, which related to different religious and ritual issues, natural phenomenon and through an annual calendar, make forecasts for any particular day of the year.
b. Through the printing of books containing necessary information, communicate different agricultural activities and accurately determine church celebrations, also including information about daily life.

Hagop Meghapart’s works printed in Venice were first and foremost for Armenians dispersed throughout the world, Armenian merchants of the day and different travelers. With this objective, necessary information, including forecasting and superstitions, were communicated prior to travel; church celebrations were concisely noted and presented, so that those Armenians, far away from the homeland could celebrate those days accordingly.

One of the main objectives for Meghapart was to create ties for those Armenians living abroad with the Motherland, which is clearly illustrated particularly in his last publication, “Songbook.” Similar collections in the 16-17th centuries had wide usage in the Armenian Diaspora, thereby Hakob printed “Songbook” where all the cherished songs of the day are compiled; among those songs found in his book, those pertaining to wanderers form the greatest portion.

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