Celebrating the Art of the Armenian Alphabet
In 405 AD, Mesrob Mashdots, a monk, theologian and linguist (artist and genius!) established the Armenian alphabet, translating the language into written form. What an undertaking it must have been!
The language gave Armenians their cultural and religious identity. It gave them the means to survive as a people, despite efforts to destroy them, again and again.
My old pencil and ink rendering of the alphabet
The alphabet originated with 36 letters. Later, in the middle ages, two characters were added. It’s curious that after reciting the first 36, one says, “and,” before finishing up with the last two letters!
I can still recite the alphabet, which I learned as a child. But speaking my own language is becoming increasingly difficult. Older people who speak the language so beautifully, and correctly, are leaving us.
And reading and writing? That’s another story. It’s hard to explain, but for instance, there’s a soft “k” sound, and a hard “k” sound. Same goes for a “t.” So which one do you use? And the complexity doesn’t stop there. There are letters for different sounds and combinations of sounds. Correct spelling seems impossible.
My name (Ani) in Armenian. And the font’s name happens to be “Ani” too
A work of art.
This alphabet, an ancient and beautiful work of art, represents the language and the rich, artful, and haunting heritage of the Armenian people.