Armenian alphabet

Armenian alphabet

History of writing

Writing is one of the greatest achievements of civilization. In ancient times, the writing was sanctified and considered divine. Even in the mythology of ancient civilizations, there are gods of writing. The god of Armenian writing is Tir, who was considered the scribe of the supreme god Aramazd.

Gods of Nemrut

The gods of the Armenian mythology on Mount Nemrut

It is also interesting that in different cultures the gods of writing were those people who wrote down the fates of people or wrote down their names in the books of life or death.

Petroglyps of Geghama mountains

Petroglyps of Geghama mountains

The era of early pictography is considered the preliterate period. Evidence of this is the thousands of petroglyphs found on the territory of Armenia, the oldest of which date back to 15-12 centuries BC. And from here writing begins to gradually develop.

Stages of development of writing

According to ancient Sumerian records, the writing was created when ambassadors traveling from Mesopotamia to the country of Aratta in the Armenian Highland could not remember the will of their master because of the long road. After that, all royal demands began to be transmitted in writing. At that time, the writing was a system of conventional signs with which it was possible to convey speech.

After petroglyphs there were cuneiforms, which, in addition to letter images, consisted of words, sentences, and full texts. They were carved on the smooth surface of the stone and depicted a description and history of the buildings, as well as the messages of the kings.

Armenian alphabet

Cuneiform writing, Van Kingdom / Source: rcchd.icomos.org.ge

The signs in the cuneiform are similar to a wedge and are located on the same line. This type of writing was used by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. However, cuneiform writing was also common in the Armenian Highland. Over 800 cuneiform records have been found on the territory of the Van Kingdom. In these cuneiform writings, the history of the Van Kingdom, the invasions and conquests of kings are presented.

In addition to cuneiform writings, there were also hieroglyphs, which were considered to be the oldest Armenian pre-Mashtots writings, examples of which have not been found in any other country. This type of writing was widespread during the Van Kingdom, and there is an assumption that these hieroglyphs are the oldest Armenian pre-Mashtots letters. This type of writing consisted of 300 characters and was written from right to left, from top to bottom.

Armenian alphabet

The most perfect type of writing ever created is the alphabet. It was considered a symbol of perfection, and it is no accident that the first and last letters of the alphabet were considered a symbol of cosmic integrity. Before creating the Armenian alphabet, Mashtots carefully studied the alphabets known then (Greek, Assyrian, Persian, Aramaic), that is, the integrity of letters used for each language.

Armenian alphabet

Armenian alphabet / Source: alikonline.ir

The goal of Mashtots was to find out how applicable all these alphabets are in the phonetic system of Armenians. After a long search, he finally came to the conclusion that Armenian phonetics is very unique and it is impossible to fully express it in any existing alphabet. This was really impossible, since in the Phoenician alphabet, for example, there were 22 letters (letters for vowels simply did not exist), in the ancient Greek – 24 letters (already with vowels), in Latin – 23 letters (only after the Middle Ages there were 24). And Armenian alphabet of Mashtots was supposed to consist of 36 letters corresponding to its phonetic composition. The most valuable fact of Mashtots’s writing was that each sound had its own corresponding letter. Later, at the end of the 12th century, the Armenian alphabet was supplemented by three more letters (և, օ, ֆ).

Armenian language

Armenian alphabet / Source: armeniancalligraphy.com

In ancient times, 36 letters of the Armenian alphabet were also used as numbers. The first row contains letters from Ա to Թ, which express units (1-9), the second row contains letters Ժ-Ղ expressing tens (10-90), the third row contains hundreds (Ճ-Ջ, i.e. 100-900), the fourth row is thousands (Ռ-Ք, i.e. 1000-9000).

By creating the Armenian alphabet, Mashtots managed to combine the experience and heritage of the past with spiritual and cultural features.

Secrets of the Armenian alphabet

The Armenian alphabet was not just a means of writing. This alphabet also contained a number of mysteries and cosmic knowledge. Speaking about the peculiarities of the Armenian alphabet, it is necessary to note the numerical value of the letters, because according to Pythagoras, numbers regulate the world, and all the truths can be found in numbers.

If we try to place the Armenian alphabet in an equilateral triangle, the letters Ա, Ս, Ք (a, s, k’) will be on its three corners, where the letter Ա (a) symbolizes the Creator, the letter Ս (s) is the Holy Spirit, and Ք ( k’) – Christ. Hence the symbol of the Holy Trinity.

In the case of a rhombic placement, the letters Հ, Ա, Յ, Ք (h, a, y, k’) will be at the corners.

Armenian alphabet

Secrets of Armenian alphabet

The peculiarity of the Armenian alphabet is that Mashtots added 7 vowels into the alphabet since 7 is also considered a cosmic number.

There is also a unique algorithm between the ancient Armenian names of chemical elements and serial numbers of chemical elements in the periodic table. For example, the word “gold” (“ոսկի” – “voski” in Armenian). The letters of this word in the digital system of the Armenian alphabet correspond to: Ո (vo) – 24, Ս (s) – 29, Կ (k) – 19, Ի (i) – 11. Adding these numbers, we get the number 79, which is the serial number of the gold in the periodic table of Mendeleev. It is the same with all metals.

Thousands of scientists have studied the Armenian alphabet from the scientific, astrological and religious sides. They all came to the conclusion that the Armenian alphabet is more than just a writing system.

Calligraphy

In ancient Armenian manuscripts, there is mainly a miniature, which is often confused with calligraphy. But we need to clearly distinguish between miniature painting and calligraphy. A miniature decorates the book and the finished letter, and calligraphy works with the shape and plasticity of the letter.

Armenian alphabet

Armenian alphabet / Source: armeniancalligraphy.com

The basis of calligraphy is the manuscript. The word calligraphy translates as the art of writing with beautiful and legible handwriting. The art of calligraphy is mainly developed in countries with a rich history and culture.

Calligraphy is also a tool with which writing is preserved and developed. Calligraphy is the art of minimalism, at the same time it is the pinnacle of perfectionism. At first glance, calligraphy may seem very simple – black lines on white paper. But on the other hand, it is a complex art, such as music. It is impossible to correct any mistake, the lines should be perfectly drawn. To understand Armenian calligraphy better, we suggest watching a video of Ruben Malayan.

In 2019, the art of Armenian writing was included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

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