Photographer, Artist Preserve Armenian Letters and History in Two Volumes


Armenian letters are turned into ornamental art in Armenian Ornamental Script.

YEREVAN — The independent Armenian pub- lisher Craftology has announced the American release of the twin titles, Armenian Ornamental Art and Armenian Ornamental Script — the result of a landmark collaboration of the artist-designer Armen Kyurkchyan and the photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian, who have spent more than a decade excavating and capturing the Armenian patterns, symbols and scripts that have survived centuries and civ- ilizations to take their place in the world cultural treasury.

For the first volume, Armenian Ornamental Art, the collaborators journeyed across the eastern and western homelands, crossing rivers and borders to visit every church, cemetery and monument where an Armenian craftsman might have taken chisel to stone. They uncovered thousands of miniature masterpieces: rosettes, birds, human figures, angels and crosses. Now, for the first time, these masterpieces have been captured both as photographs (taken by Khatcherian) and as meticulous drawings (rendered by Kyurkchyan), which are presented side-by-side in print as they are on a CD accompanying the glossy, full-color volume. “Our intent was not merely to collect and present our national treasures for admiration on coffee tables and in classrooms,” Kyurkchyan said, “but also to offer our country’s native designs — true masterworks of medieval art — to practicing designers, archi- tects and artists who might incorporate them in their own creations, giving them new life in the 21st century.” The second volume, Armenian Ornamental Script, sent the collaborators on a journey of another kind — an excursion to the libraries, repositories and archives of the world, where ornamented Armenian manuscripts have been scattered through time.

In their pages the authors found the original 36 Armenian letters, but not in their standard geometric forms. The Armenian masters have transformed our letters from mere symbolic units into unique masterpieces of ornamental art. Now we, too, can see them — letters that blossom into flowers or take flight into birds or find higher life, with a sudden burst of imagi- nation, in human forms.

“The Armenian illuminated manuscripts are especially dear to me,” Kyurkchyan said, “deco- rated as they were not only by skilled professionals, but also by monks — sometimes even by their young students. These illustrations are my favorite. They are so simple, so charming, even naïve. It is almost heartbreaking to consider their innocence and sincerity.”

Both volumes are now available on Amazon.