‘Wings On Their Feet And On Their Heads’: Reflections On Port Armeni


Sebouh Aslanian on August 28, 2012

Special Issue: Celebrating 500 Years of Armenian Printing
The Armenian Weekly, Sept. 1, 2012
(Download article in PDF)

>From its origins in Venice in 1512, the history of early modern
(1500-1800) Armenian print culture was closely entangled with that of
port cities, initially in Europe and subsequently in Asia. In fact,
virtually every Armenian printing press before 1800 was established
either in or close to port cities, and the few that were not owed
their existence to on-going relations with port locations.

Yet, despite the obvious relationship between ports and printers,
their synergetic relationship has thus far largely eluded scholarly
attention. As Armenians across the world celebrate the quincentenary
of Hakob Meghapart’s printing of the first Armenian book in Venice, it
will be useful for us to pause and reflect on the intimate relationship
between port cities and printers in the rich history of Armenian print
culture and the history of the early modern Armenian book referred
to in Armenian scholarship as hnatib girk’√Ą~U. In the process, it
will also be important to meditate on the connecting link or hinge
between ports and printers, namely what I will call, following the
tradition of scholars of Sephardic Jewish history, the figure of the
“port Armenian.”

Marcara Shahrimanian Patmutiwn Genghiz Khani 179×300 ‘Wings on their
Feet and on their Heads’: Reflections on Port Armenians and Five
Centuries of Global Armenian Print Culture

Portrait of Marcara Shahrimanian, from Patmut’iwn Metsin Gengizkhani
arajin kayser nakhni mghulats ev tatarats,bazhaneal i chors girs
(Trieste, 1788).

An Aquacentric View of Early Modern Armenian History1

Armenian historiography and especially Armenian “historical memory”
seem to be fixated on the figure of the Armenian as rooted in his or
her ancestral homeland. Land, for good or for ill, has been taken as
the ideal and often only matrix for Armenian history. While there are
good reasons for this unexamined assumption in Armenian historical
writing (Armenia’s mostly landlocked geographical terrain and the
historical bond between statehood and territorial sovereignty not
being the least of which) this “terracentric” view of Armenian history
does not correspond to some basic realities of the Armenian past,
especially during the crucial years between 1500 and 1800 C.E., that I
have come to label as the “early modern” period in Armenian history.2
During this period, arguably the most momentous changes in Armenian
history, including but not limited to Armenians’ early openness to and
adoption of print technology, did not take place on the rugged terrain
of the Armenian plateau, where perpetual wars between the two gunpowder
empires of the Ottomans and Safavids had destroyed much of the region’s
populations and local economies. Rather they unfolded across the
slippery surface of the world’s major bodies of water and through the
port cities dotting their shorelines. More particularly, the pulsating
center of Armenian history during the early modern period and beyond
seems to have shifted almost entirely to the port cities of the Indian
Ocean rim and, to a lesser degree, the Mediterranean basin. Consider
for instance the location of the first Armenian printing press in
Venice in 1512 followed by a string of presses operating from the
Most Serene republic (La Serenissima) for several centuries and the
establishment of the Mkhitarist Congregation of erudite Catholic
Armenian monks, a little over two centuries after Hakob Meghapart’s
press, in San Lazarro in the Venetian lagoon. It would be almost
impossible for us today to imagine what is often called the “Armenian
renaissance” without the erudite monks who followed in the footsteps of
the Congregation’s founder, Abbot Mkhitar, not to mention the printing
press that enabled these monks to preserve, classify, and in fact give
form to the canon of Armenian literature. The same can be said of the
Indian Ocean basin and its archipelago of port cities such as Surat,
Madras, and Calcutta, to name a few, where the bulk of and certainly
the wealthiest among port Armenians lived. What would the history of
Armenian journalism be without Azdarar, published for two consecutive
years by Harout’iwn Shmavonian in Madras from the 1794 to 1796? What of
Armenian political thought and modern constitutional thinking without
Shahamir Shahamirian’s Girk’ anuaneal vorogayt paa¬Ļ~Yats [Book called
Snare of Glory], the first republican constitution of a future state
of Armenia that saw the light of day not in Armenia but Madras around
1787? The same may be said of the first printed Armenian play in the
world (“The Physiognomist of Duplicity,” Calcutta, 1823) and arguably
the first novel in vernacular Armenian (Mesrob Taghiatiants’s Vep
Varsenkan, 1847). All of these achievements shared three things
in common. First, their existence was made possible by the modern
technology of the printing press and its mechanical (re)production
of books through movable metal type. True, we should withstand the
temptation to exaggerate the “revolutionary” nature of the shift from
manuscript to print and the latter’s impact on Armenian societies
across the world as has sometimes been done by those who see print
technology as causing a “communications revolution.” However, the
recent push back to represent the appearance of the printed codex as a
“blip” or “hiccup”3 of continuity in the longue dur√ɬ©e of the history
of the book should also be avoided.4 Second, they all occurred either
in or near port cities or were facilitated by maritime connections
to such cities. The third commonality among these accomplishments
is that their very existence was predicated on the support, both
intellectual and financial, of “port Armenians.”5 Who or what were
these port Armenians and how did they differ from the run-of-the-mill
Armenians who did not live in or near port cities?

Are there any attributes that distinguished them, and if so what
are they?

First, unlike their agrarian counterparts, who for the most part lived
far away from the great shorelines of the world and eked out a living
by tilling the land as peasants or as small-time local merchants and
artisans, port Armenians were predominantly if not almost exclusively
long-distance merchants whose livelihood and identity were largely
shaped by their relationship to the sea. They made a living as
long-distance merchants involved in the global trade of silk, spices,
South Asian textiles, and precious stones.

Constantly in motion across bodies of water to conduct what world
historians call “cross-cultural trade,” port Armenians, as their name
implies, resided for the most part in great port cities of their age
such as Amsterdam, Venice, Marseille, Saint Petersburg, Astrakhan,
Madras, and Calcutta–all locations for Armenian printing presses.

photo2111 253×300 ‘Wings on their Feet and on their Heads’: Reflections
on Port Armenians and Five Centuries of Global Armenian Print Culture

>From Khwaja Nahapet Gulnazar Aguletsi, Parzabanut’iwn hogenuag
Saghmosatsn Davt’i Margaree – in (Venice, 1687), 2-3.

Second, as long-distance merchants betrothed to the sea and its many
ports, port Armenians, like their Sephardic counterparts in Jewish
history, embodied many of the traits associated with Mercurius,
the Roman god of merchants, often portrayed with “wings on his feet
and head.”6 Mercurius’s winged sandals and winged hat have come
to symbolize the principal attributes of the “port Jew” according
to historians Lois Dubin and David Sorkin who coined the concept of
“port Jew” a little over a decade ago to distinguish mostly Sephardic
Jews engaged in long-distance maritime trade from their counterparts
working in European courts, often known as “court Jews.” The symbolism
of Mercurius’s winged nature was not lost on Dubin and Sorkin, both
of whom identified it with movement and flight, attributes they
found present in the figure of the port Jew. The latter, because
of his association with port cities and long-distance commerce,
was a quintessential “border-crosser” who moved swiftly through and
across diverse cultural zones and was no less swift, adventurous,
and cosmopolitan in the flights of his imagination and thoughts. The
relationship with commerce on the seas for the port Jew and, as we
shall see, for the port Armenian is therefore an integral part of
his identity as a “social type.” Generally speaking, individuals
whose location and vocation are in ports are more likely to be open
to the world around them, probably more likely to experiment with the
cultural practices they encounter among the peoples with whom they come
into contact, and thus are likely to have cultural identities that
are hybrid and enriched through sustained contact and intermingling
with others from across the oceans. Also, largely as a function of
their location in port cities, themselves some of the greatest hubs
of information in the globally connected world that came to take
shape during the early modern period, port Armenians were exposed to
a greater volume and more diverse varieties of information than their
land-locked counterparts. This meant that new technologies such as
the printing press or inventions associated with it, such as novel
papermaking techniques and so on, would be more easily accessible to
port Armenians than their landlubbing counterparts.

Third, with the exception of a small minority from the mercantile
town of Agulis in the Caucasus,7 the overwhelming majority of these
port Armenians traced their ancestry to the township of New Julfa,
the prosperous suburb of the Iranian Safavid imperial capital of
Isfahan where their forebears were relocated by Shah ‘Abbas I in
1604-1605 in the course of the Ottoman-Safavid wars.8 Their original
homeland, the town of Old Julfa in what is today the Azerbaijani
exclave of Nakhijevan, was probably the last place in the world to
be associated with oceans and seas. Its land-locked position and
inhospitable environment were traits that had caught the attention of
more than one European traveler who passed through the town before
its destruction in the early years of the seventeenth century. The
French traveler and writer Jean Chardin, for instance, remarked “that
it is not possible to find another town situated in a place that is
more dry and more rocky.”9 It was Shah ‘Abbas I’s razing of the town
to the ground and the brutal relocation of its mercantile denizens to
his newly-built capital of Isfahan that altered the future trajectory
of Armenian history. The Shah’s granting of a royal protection and
quasi monopoly of the Crown’s silk trade to the Julfans (1619) and
subsequent unlocking of the gates of the Indian Ocean in 1622, when the
fort of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf fell from Portuguese to
Iranian control, prized open the wide watery world of the Indian Ocean
to merchants from New Julfa and helped transform the Julfans into port
Armenians. Like some of their counterparts who had settled or were in
the process of settling in the port cities of the Mediterranean world
(Venice, Livorno, Marseille, Smyrna/Izmir, and Constantinople/Istanbul
as well as on the Atlantic seaboard in Amsterdam), they did not
take long to establish mercantile communities in most of the ocean’s
important port cities. Most settled in port cities under the rule of
the English East India Company such as Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay,
followed by Singapore and Dutch-controlled Batavia in the nineteenth
century; others resided in French and Portuguese outposts, such as
Pondicherry in Southern India and Macao/Canton in China whence they
plied a lucrative trade with Manila exchanging Indian textiles and
spices as well as Chinese porcelain and silk for New World silver
that arrived each year from Acapulco on Spanish convoys known as the
Manila Galleon. But what could these port Armenians have to do with
the history of the Armenian book and the printing press, which after
all was almost entirely confined to its European cradle from 1512 to
the late 1600s when it began to gravitate slowly to the East? This
brings us to the fourth and final attribute of port Armenians, their
active patronage of the arts and culture in general and of the new
craft of printing in particular.

The PPP Link: Port Armenians, Ports, and Printers

The bonds that connected ports and port Armenians to printers across
the oceans and occasionally over land were complex. First and foremost,
the location of the printing establishment was crucial.

Most Armenian printers in the early modern period, with a few
exceptions, were members of the literati belonging to the clerical
hierarchy of the Armenian Church. They usually set up their presses
in the port cities in Europe that already had a substantial presence
of port Armenians with ties to New Julfa. The port city location
was preferred for several reasons. For reasons alluded to above
port cities were the most dynamic nodes of the world economy during
the early modern period and therefore leading loci of technological
innovation. As far as printers were concerned, port cities offered
access to paper manufacturers, font casters, engravers, as well as
compositors and press operators. In addition, the fact that they
usually contained a substantial presence of port Armenians willing
to patronize and shore up new printing presses meant that Armenian
port settlements already came equipped with a diasporic community
infrastructure including churches and other community institutions.

Most important perhaps, port cities afforded printers with
relatively cheap and efficient access to transportation. In an
age when transportation by water was almost always cheaper, safer,
and faster than its overland counterpart, location in a port city
meant that a printer could load his newly printed commodity (books)
and have it shipped to the nearest markets of consumption. In the
eighteenth century, the major reading market for Armenian books was
Constantinople/Istanbul, home to the largest urban population of
Armenians. The city’s close to 80,000 Armenians by the second half of
the eighteenth century was the prized destination for printed Armenian
books that were shipped there either directly to its bustling port
with its minaret-studded skyline or by caravan routes once the books
were unloaded in the port of Smyrna/Istanbul in the south.10 A few
examples of Armenian port city presses will suffice to clarify what
has been said thus far.

Amsterdam, where an Armenian press was installed in 1660, and
where Armenian printers were active until the second decade of
the eighteenth century, was an important Armenian port city with a
significant presence of Julfan merchants and two successive churches:
Surb Karapet in 1663/64 followed by Surb Hogi in 1713.11 In the
second half of the seventeenth century, the city had clearly taken
the lead as the most dynamic printing center in the world with over
forty printing houses publishing in multiple languages, including
Armenian and Hebrew. Partly as a result of this reputation, it
attracted Armenian printers beginning with the most famous of them,
Oskan Yerevantsi (originally from New Julfa) who, with the active
financial support of several Julfan merchants in Livorno, printed the
first Armenian bible in Amsterdam in 1666.12 After Yerevantsi moved
to Livorno and Marseille with his press, his place was eventually
filled by members of the illustrious family of savants and printers,
the Vanandets’is from the region of Ghoghtn in Nakhijevan, who actively
published first-rate books from their settlement in the Dutch capital
from 1694 to 1717, when their press was shut down due to financial
troubles.13 As Rene Bekius has pointed out in an insightful essay,
another reason for Amsterdam’s lure was its reputation for being
a haven for persecuted minorities such as Sephardic Jews expelled
from Iberian Peninsula and Huguenots from France as well as Armenian
printers keen to avoid the tentacular reach of the censors of the
Propaganda Fide, an organization founded by the Catholic Church in 1622
to spread Christianity in new areas and to combat the effects of the
reformation and presence of what it regarded as “heresy.”14 In addition
to having lax censorship laws and being relatively free of censors and
spies from Rome, Amsterdam with its famous stock exchange also boasted
an information and transportation network second to none, as well as
paper mills producing cheaper and better quality paper due to a new
innovation in production techniques.15 The same was true of Marseille
(1670s), Livorno (1640s), Venice (1512-1513, 1564-5, 1586, 1660s to the
present), Constantinople (1567, 1660s and from 1701 to the present),
Saint Petersburg (1781-), Astrakhan (1796-), and especially Madras
(1772) and Calcutta (1796). All these locations were port cities with
impressive communities of port Armenians. They were also connected to
each other and to New Julfa through networks of circulation through
which capital, commodities, printers, and merchants as well as printed
books, ideas, and new technologies circulated. The establishment of a
press in New Julfa as early as 1638 was in many ways an exception to
the port city-printers pattern discussed above.16 However, this press
could have hardly existed without the financial and technical support
offered to it by the township’s famous merchants residing abroad in
one of their many port city settlements from Venice to Madras. For
instance, when in 1686 the township’s clerical hierarchy decided to
reopen the press that had been shut down following an uprising in
the 1640s of the suburb’s scribes, if the French Huguenot traveler,
Jean Baptist Tavernier’s account is to be trusted, the primate of
the time wrote a letter (stored at the Archivio di Stato di Firenze)
to the most notable Julfan merchants residing in Venice asking them
for assistance with the purchase of technical equipment (including
new fonts and types).17

In addition to providing Armenian printers with an institutional
or community infrastructure, port Armenians provided the capital
investments necessary to shore up the printing activities of the
clerical elite. They did this in several ways. They were directly
involved in partnerships with printer-priests as a form of what
has come to be known as “print Capitalism.”18 An example of this is
the partnership contract that a Julfan merchant named Paolo Alexan
(Poghos ordi Aleksani?) had entered with two Armenian priests (Oannes
de Ougorlou and Matheus di Hovhannes) who ran an important press in
Amsterdam from 1685 to the mid-1690s. After printing 8,300 copies of
Armenians books, many of them destined for Smyrna to be sold there and,
one would assume, in Constantinople, the partners had had a falling
out and took their dispute to a notary public. 19 However, business
partnerships between port Armenians and printers based exclusively on
the profit motive were the exception in the history of the Armenian
book, unlike its European counterpart where printing was from its
origins a model of a capitalist enterprise.20 The small size of the
Armenian reading market, itself a function of low population numbers
and even lower literacy rates, was probably the main reason why the
profession of the printer was not a profitable one. Merchants were thus
quick to realize that printing for capitalist motives was not a paying
proposition and began supporting printing presses not necessarily
with the intention of engaging in a capitalist enterprise but rather
as a form of cultural patronage for both Church and “nation.” They
could have done this for reasons that we would today call “prestige
power” or the vanity of having the names of their family members
immortalized in the colophons of the books published through their
benevolence. The case of Simeon Yerevantsi’s press in Ejmiatsin–the
first printing press in the homeland–as far away from a port city as
one could imagine–is an example of the latter. Established in 1772,
this press was entirely paid for by a port Armenian residing in Madras
known as Grigor Agha Chekigents (alias Mikael Khojajanian), who donated
18,000 rupees to the Catholicosate to help buy the appropriate material
for casting of types and even for the establishment of a paper mill
in 1775 on the grounds of the Catholicosate.21 Thus when technical
specialists could not be procured in situ, a port Armenian in Madras
made sure not only to raise the required capital but also to rely on
his local connections in India and dispatch to the Catholicos French
technical specialists from the port settlement of Pondicherry to help
the monks in their enterprise of printing. Sometimes both activities
(cultural patronage and entrepreneurial investment) were combined,
as was the case with Oskan Yerevantsi’s press in Amsterdam, which
was bought with the capital investment of Oskan’s brother, Avetis
Ghlijents, a merchant from New Julfa. This press was later donated
by Oskan to Ejmiatsin under whose name it functioned during its
various peregrinations from Amsterdam to Marseille and thence to
Constantinople. Merchants also stepped in to support Armenian printers
through directly commissioning important works for publication.

The publication of several trade and language manuals useful to
merchants, such as the celebrated Gants ch’ap’oy kshroy twoy ew
dramits’ bolor ashkhari [A treasury of measures, numbers, and moneys
of the entire world (Amsterdam, 1699) and the first Armenian book in
the vernacular, Arhest Hamaroghut’ean, amboghj ev katareal [The art
of arithmetic, complete and perfect] (Marseille, 1675), are examples
of such mercantile patronage of Armenian books.

The same can be said for works of translation from foreign languages,
such as Charles Rollin’s Histoire Romaine [Patmut’iwn hrovmeakan] and
William Robertson’s multi-volume History of America [Vipasanut’iwn
Amerikoy], both commissioned by Julfan merchants from Madras
and printed or published by Mkhitarists in Venice and Trieste,22
respectively. In a few cases, merchants carried out the translations
themselves and paid for the publication of their own works such as
Marcara Shahrimanian’s translation of Petis de la Croix’s Histoire
du Grand Genghizcan, [Patmut’iwn Metsin Gengizkhani arajin kayser
nakhni mghulats ev tatarats, bazhaneal i chors girs] (Trieste, 1788).

In addition to patronizing the printing activities of priests, did
port Armenians also own and operate their own printing presses? As
mentioned above, the miniscule size of the Armenian reading public and
the low levels of literacy made print capitalism unfeasible for port
Armenians and the few cases of merchant printers were few and far in
between.23 In the seventeenth century, Armenian merchants operated
at least two Armenian presses in Venice: Gaspar Shahrimanian’s press
of 1687 and the press of Khwaja Nahapet Gulnazar Agulets’i, which
published the Psalms of David, the second of only three printed
Armenian books in the vernacular during the seventeenth century.24
In the eighteenth century, it became more common perhaps to find port
Armenians who were also owners of their own printing presses. The most
celebrated case of this was the merchant prince Shahamir Shahamirian,
who established in Madras in 1772 the first Armenian printing press in
India and printed a number of trailblazing books including in 1787-89
Girk’ anuaneal vorogayt’ Par√č~Yats (Book called Snare of Glory), the
republican proto-constitution for a future republic of Armenia.25
Later this same press appears to have been used to print the first
Armenian newspaper in the world, Azdarar (1794-1796). The press of
Grigor Khojamal Khaldarian, a Julfan from India who had traveled to
and resided in London in the 1770s26 and later opened Russia’s first
Armenian printing press in the port city of Saint Petersburg in 1781
is another case in point. It is interesting to note that the first
published work by an Armenian woman, Kleopatra Sarafian’s Banali
Gitut’ean (Key of knowledge) saw the light of day on Khaldarian’s
press in 1788.27

As Armenians across the world celebrate an important milestone in
Armenian history, we need to remember that many important aspects of
the history of the Armenian book remain to be properly scrutinized
and studied. What I have sketched above in an impressionistic way
is only the maritime and mercantile underpinnings of Armenian print
culture. Other scholars before me have touched upon this in more or
less fruitful ways but never systematically. There are entire areas
of the history of the Armenian book that remain not only untouched
but whose very existence has not even been properly acknowledged and
therefore examined. Important questions such as how does the study of
the printed book in its multifaceted dimension–from its production
site in port cities or elsewhere to its destination into the hands
of readers–contribute to our understanding of the mentalit√ɬ© of
any given society? In other words, how do books begin to transform
the mental universe of ordinary readers once they are released into
a network of circulation? Who were the principal readers among the
early modern Armenians, what was the literacy rate, and how does
one even begin to measure it? In addition, the “history of reading”
or who read what, how, and where is a topic that has occupied center
stage in the discipline of the history of the book in Europe and North
America but remains terra incognita in the scholarship on the Armenian
book.28 As the worldwide celebrations of the quincentenary continue
and exhibits and conferences are convened, one hopes that scholars
of the Armenian past will pause, take critical stock of what their
predecessors accomplished, and while grateful for standing tall on
their shoulders will forge ahead to pose new and imaginative questions
of their own.

As every good historian knows, the ability to pose the right kinds
of questions to the evidence one has at one’s disposal is among
the most important skills that members of the historian’s tribe
cherish. One can only wish that in the wake of the quincentenary
celebrations new and theoretically vigorous studies will bloom in
the study of the printed Armenian book. If we are fortunate, this
crop will be conceptually informed by the most recent Euroamerican
scholarship in the tradition of the post-Annales L’histoire du Livre
while simultaneously being archivally grounded in notarial and other
documents. A hundred years ago at the last centenary as Armenians
in Istanbul, Tiflis, and other locations prepared to celebrate the
accomplishments of Hakob Meghapart in the port city of Venice, they
inspired a new generation of scholars of the book, including Teotik,
and the formidable Leo (Arakel Babakhanian)29 to blaze new paths
of scholarship that superseded the work of Garegin Zharbanalian30
and others in the generation before them. May the same happen with
this centenary.


1. My thoughts in this section of the paper were first inspired by
my reading of Jerry Bentley’s “Sea and Ocean Basins as Frameworks of
Historical Analysis,” Geographical Review, Vol. 89, No. 2, Oceans
Connect (Apr., 1999), pp. 215-224; and K√ɬ§ren Wigen,”AHR Forum:
Oceans of History, Introduction,” American Historical Review, (June
2006): 717-721.

2. See Sebouh D. Aslanian, “Silver, Missionaries, and Print: A
Global Microhistory of Early modern Armenian Networks of Circulation
and the Armenian Translation of Charles Rollin’s Histoire Romaine,”
unpublished paper, 2009; idem, “Port Cities and Printers: Reflections
on Five Centuries of Armenian Print Culture and Book History,”
(unpublished paper).

3 Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe,
2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 316. I have
elaborated at length on the issue of continuity versus rupture in my
“Port Cities and Printers: Reflections on Five Centuries of Armenian
Print Culture and Book History.”

4. Thus Robert Gross writes: “The current consensus, neatly summarized
by the French historian Roger Chartier, is that the change from
the manuscript to the printed book was no big deal. In its physical
design, the newcomer kept the old ways. It employed devices developed
in monastic scriptoria to order the text: signatures, page numbers,
columns and lines, ornaments, alphabetical tables, systematic
indexes. It inherited a hierarchy of sizes, from the learned folio
to the humanist quarto down to the bedside libellus.

And it called upon methods of silent reading of long standing in
medieval universities and popularized among aristocratic laymen in the
fifteenth century. The printing press thus depended on, rather than
altered, the fundamental form of the book.” (Emphasis added) Robert
A. Gross, “Communications Revolutions: Writing a History of the Book
for an Electronic Age,” Rare Books and Manuscript Librarianship, 13
(1998) 15.

5. My thoughts on Port Armenians have been influenced by the work
of Lois Dubin and David Sorkin in Jewish Studies. See David Sorkin,
“The Port Jew: Notes Toward a Social Type,” Journal of Jewish Studies
(Cambridge, England) 50 (Spring 1999): 87-97 and Lois Dubin, ‘Wings
on their feet’ and ‘wings on their head’: Reflections on the Study
of Port Jews,” in David Cesarani/ Gemma Romaine, eds., Jews and Port
Cities, 1590-1990: Commerce, Community, and Cosmopolitanism (London:
Vallentine Mitchell, 2006),14-30

6. See Dubin, “Wings on their Feet,” 14-16.

7. Armenian merchants from Agulis were particularly active alongside
Julfans in Mediterranean port cities such as Venice, Livorno,
and Marseille.

8. For information on Julfa and its merchants, see Sebouh David
Aslanian, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade
Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa, Isfahan, (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2011).

9. Jean Chardin, Voyages du Chevalier Chardin en Perse, et autres
lieux de l’Orient. Ed. L. langles. 10 vols. Paris: Le Normant,
Imprimeur-Libraire, 1811, 2: 304.

10. For a smart discussion, see the following works by Raymond H.

K√ɬ©vorkian, Catalogue des ‘incunables’ arm√ɬ©niens (1511-1965) ou
chronique de l’imprimerie arm√ɬ©nienne.

(Geneva: Patrick Cramer, 1986); idem., “Livres imprim√ɬ© et culture
ecrite dans l’Arm√ɬ©nie des XVI et XVII si√ɬ®cles,” Revue des etudes
arméniennes (1982), idem., Les imprimes arméniens des XVIe et
XVIIe siecles (Paris, 1987); idem., Les imprimes arméniens 1701-1850
(Paris, 1989).

11. Aslanian, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, 79-80.

12. For the involvement of three Julfan merchants in the printing
Yerevants’is Bible, see Karapet Amatuni, Oskan Vrd.

Erevants’i ev ir Zhamanak : lusavor ej m Zh daru yekeghets’akan
Patmut’ene-n [Oskan Vardapet Yerevantsi and his Time: A Luminous Page
from the History of 17th century Ecclesiastical History], (Venice: San
Lazzaro, 1975), 150-152, and Alessandro Orengo, “Ov Dateos dow Elkeli:
Le Disavvenure di un Mercante Armeno Nella Livorno del XVII Secolo,”
[Ov Dateos dow Elkeli: The Misadventures of an Armenian Merchant in
XVII century Livorno] Gli Armeni Lungo Le Strade d’Italia, (Livorno,
1998), 55-68.

13. Sarukhan, Arakel, Holandan ew Hayer [Holland and the Armenians]
(Vienna: Mkhitarist Press, 1925); Mesrop Gregorian, Nor Niwt’er
ew Ditoghut’iwnner Hratarakich Vanantets’woh Masin [New Materials
and Observations on the Vanantetsi Family of Publishers] (Vienna:
Mkhitarist Press, 1966); and Sahak Chemchemian, Hay Tpagrut’iwn
ew Hrom (ZhE. dar) [Armenian Printing and Rome in the Seventeenth
Century]. (Venice: San Lazzaro, 1989)

14. Ren√ɬ© Bekius, “Polyglot Amsterdam printing presses: a comparison
between Armenian and Jewish printers,” (unpublished paper).

15. See Bekius and also the excellent overview in Meliné Pehlivanian,
“Mesrop’s Heirs: The Early Armenian Book Printers,” Middle Eastern
Languages and the Print Revolution: A Cross-cultural Encounter,
eds. E.Hanebutt-Benz, D. Glass, G. Roper.

Westhofen, WVA-Verlag Skulima, 2002, pp. 53-92.

16. The press in Lvov established in 1616 was also an exception to
the port city pattern but it too was paid for by the town’s Armenian
merchants some of whom had maritime connections in the Black and
Mediterranean Seas.

17. The document is a letter written by Primate Stepanos Jughayetsi
in New Julfa and addressed to the “pious and Christ-loving Julfan
Merchants residing in the city of Venice,” dated September 27, 1686,
New Julfa, Isfahan. See Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Acquisti e doni
busta123, nn. 77-7. I thank my friend Meroujan Karapetyan for placing
this document at my disposal.

18. For this well-known concept, see Benedict Anderson, Imagined
Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,
2nd and revised edition (London: Verso, 1991).

19. See Sarukhan, Hollandan ew Hayer√č~Xe, 102-103 for the translation
of a notarial document where the dispute between the involved parties
is discussed, and Gregorian, Nor Niwt’er ew Ditoghut’iwnner, 48-50
for a brief discussion.

20. Anderson, Imagined Communities, and Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean
Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800,
English translation (London: Verso, 1976). This classic was originally
published in French as L’Aparition du Livre (Paris, 1958).

21. For the Catholicosate’s first printing press, see Sebouh Aslanian,
Dispersion History and the Polycentric Nation: The Role of Simeon
Yerevantsi’s Girk’ or Kochi Partavjar in the Eighteenth Century
Armenian National Revival, (Venice: Bibliotheque d’armenologie
“Bazmavep,” 39, 2004), 30-31.

22. The Trieste branch of the Mkhitarists was established in 1773
by Minas Gasparian and Astuatsatur Babikian (scion of a wealthy
family from New Julfa) who were exiled from the mother convent in
San Lazzaro following a violent quarrel with the then reigning Abbot,
Stepanos Melklonian. The Trieste branch was relocated to Vienna, where
it continues to exist, in 1811. See Aslanian “Silver, Missionaries,
and Print” for a detailed account of their separation from San Lazzaro.

23. I thank Meroujan Karapetyan for discussions on this matter.

24. See Pehlivanian, “Mesrop’s Heirs,” 62 and Jean-Pierre Mah√ɬ©, “The
Spirit of Early Armenian Printing: Development, Evolution, and Cultural
Integration,” Catalogue des ‘incunables’ arm√ɬ©niens (1511/1695), ou,
Chronique de l’imprimerie arm√ɬ©nienne, Raymond K√ɬ©vorkian. (Gen√ɬ®ve: P.

Cramer, 1986), xvi.

25. See Aslanian, Dispersion History and “Silver, Missionaries,
and Print” for fuller discussion of these works.

26. For Khaldarian’s stay in London, see Willem G. Kuiters, The
British in Bengal, 1756-1773: A Society in Transition Seen through
the Biography of a Rebel, William Bolts (1739-1808).

(Paris: Indes savants, 2002)

27. Pehlivanian, “Mesrop’s Heirs,” 75.

28. For an exploratory foray into this terrain, see Aslanian, “A
Reader Responds to Joseph Emin’s Life and Adventures: Notes Towards
a ‘History of Reading’ in Late Eighteenth Century Madras.” Handes
Amsorya, (Vienna, Yerevan: 2012) 9-65.

29. Teotik, Tip u Tar (Type and Font) (Istanbul, 1913); Leo [Arakel
Babakhanian], Hay kakan tpagrutyun [Armenian Printing] 2 vols.

(Tiflis, 1901)

30. Patmut’iwn Hay Tpagrut’ean [History of Armenian Printing] (Venice:
San Lazzaro, 1895).

From: A. Papazian