Treasures From The Guerguerian Archive at NAASR

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Treasures of NAASR's Mardigian Library ~ Selected by NAASR Library Curator Ani Babaian from the Guerguerian Archive

To bring the treasures of NAASR’s rare book Mardigian Library to you, we are featuring some extraordinary masterpieces from our 30,000 volume collection. For Easter week, we have chosen Bats‘atrut‘iwn sharakanats‘: Ork‘ pashtin i hasarakats‘ zhamakargut‘ean Hayastaneayts‘ Ekeghets‘woy (Բացատրութիւն շարականաց: Որք պաշտին ի հասարակաց ժամակարգութեան Հայաստանեայց Եկեղեցւոյ), by Gabriel Awetikean (Գաբրիէլ Աւետիքեան), published in 1814 at San Lazzarro in Venice (Վենետիկ Ի Վանս Սրբոյ Ղազարոյ). The book is 807 pages long and is 27 cm. in height.

Bats‘atrut‘iwn sharakanats‘ offers a rich explication of the sharakans used in the worship of the Armenian Church. The sharakan is a chant or sacred song or hymn used in the liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are more than 1,000 sharakans recognized as canonical by the Armenian Church. After devoted study, Gabriel Awetikian presented, in this 807-page volume, the sharakans in detail, examined the entire list of hymns, interpreted and explained their content, and provided extensive information about their authors and their uses. To eliminate any inaccuracies, he compared the printed text of these sharakans with manuscript copies, and in doing so, he created a publication in 1814 that to this day remains an important reference work for Armenian liturgy studies.

Awetikian (1750-1827) was a member of the Mkhitarist Congregation in Venice. He was an Armenian philologist, translator, linguist, theologian, and grammar expert. He studied Armenian spiritual poems and songs and wrote and translated numerous books, including: Narek aghōtʻitsʻ : harazat ew zgushawor lutsmambkʻ norog batsʻahayteal = Նարեկ աղօթից: Հարազատ և զգուշաւոր լուծմամբք նորոգ բացայայտեալ = From the prayer of Narek, 1801;

Kerakanutʻiun Haykakan= Քերականութիւն հայկական= Grammar of Armenian, 1815;
Pataragamatoytsʻ hayotsʻ=Պատարագամատոյց հայոց = Liturgia Armena (in Classical Armenian and Italian), 1832; and
Nor baṛgirkʻ Haykazean lezui = Նոր բառգիրք հայկազեան լեզուի = New dictionary of in the Armenian language, 1836.

Gabriel Awetikian’s book featured this week, Bats‘atrut‘iwn sharakanats, came to NAASR from the collection of Rev. Krikor Guerguerian (1911–1988), whose large and diverse collection of books were donated to NAASR by his nephew, Dr. Edmund Gergerian. Rev. Krikor Guerguerian was a Reverend Father of the Catholic Church and is known for his pioneering work researching the Armenian Genocide and for the important collection of documentary materials relating to the Armenian Genocide that he collected over several decades. Thanks to the efforts of Prof. Taner Akçam and his team at the Strassler Center at Clark University, much of this collection relating to the Armenian Genocide is accessible online here: https://commons.clarku.edu/guerguerian-archive/. The originals of this collection relating to the Armenian Genocide were also donated to NAASR along with Rev. Krikor Guerguerian’s diverse collection of rare books.

NAASR’s new headquarters, the Vartan Gregorian Building in Belmont, MA, was designed to safely and securely display and preserve NAASR’s extensive rare book library and special collections in a temperature-controlled environment to safeguard them for posterity. Ultra-rare materials, such as this featured book, as well as unique archives of historical and religious figures of note are stored in a Special Collections room. Once health and safety directives allow NAASR to reopen our building, the rich materials in the Mardigian Library and its Special Collections and rare Periodicals will once again be accessible for research and study by scholars and the public.


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