500 Years of Armenian Printing

26 January 2012

On Tuesday, January 24, a special presentation honoring the 500th anniversary of Armenian printing was held at the Diocesan Center in New York City. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, presided.

The program opened with remarks by Arto Khrimian, who introduced the master of ceremonies Hagop Vartivarian, chair of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of N.Y. and N.J.

Mr. Vartivarian gave an overview of the history of Armenian printing, which dates to 1512 when Hakob Meghapart printed the first Armenian book in Venice. Mr. Vartivarian went on to discuss how printing came to Istanbul in 1567, and later to Armenia, India, and other parts of the diaspora.

The evening's guest speaker was Zakaria Miltanoghlun, a columnist for Istanbul's Agos newspaper. An architect by training, Mr. Miltanoghlun has spent years studying the history of the Armenian press, and is completing a book on the subject.

Mr. Miltanoghlun focused his remarks on the Armenian printing press in the Ottoman Empire. He highlighted Ottoman Armenian publications in the fields of literature, politics, medicine, education, and journalism, among others. Mr. Miltanoghlun also pointed out the accomplishments of Armenian publishers who issued publications printed in Turkish, as well as newspapers and pamphlets printed in Turkish but with Armenian orthography. He noted that of the 250 Armenian newspapers once active in Turkey, only five survive today.

Krikor Markarian, an antiques collector, exhibited five books printed in Armenia and Cilicia.

Archbishop Barsamian, a classmate of Mr. Miltanoghlun at Istanbul's Sourp Khach Tibrevank, spoke about the Armenian literary heritage and the role of the Armenian press in unifying the Armenian people across the diaspora.

"Through events like this we honor our culture and heritage," Archbishop Barsamian said. "It is our responsibility to pass on our rich heritage to new generations so that it can flourish for centuries to come."

The Primate also expressed his appreciation to all the organization involved in Tuesday's event, and to Mr. Miltanoghlun for his presentation.

A reception followed the presentations.

The evening was hosted in collaboration with the following organizations: the Eastern Diocese's Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center; the Armenian-American Support and Educational Center; the Constantinople Armenian Relief Society Inc.; Esayan Getronagan Alumni, Inc.; the Gomidas Choir of the Diocese; Hamazkayin of New York; Tekeyan Cultural Association of N.Y. and N.J.; and Tibrevank Alumni, Inc.

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