This is the principle canon of Armenian liturgical music, containing the 1166 canonical hymns (sharakan in Armenian) used in the liturgy of the Armenian Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Armenian Catholic Church.
Authored by Matt’eos Vanadets’i, published by Oskan Ervants’i, and using Dutch woodcutter and engraver Christopher van Sichem’s woodcut illustrations, this copy still has it’s original binding and the colored pages make it especially beautiful. And though not as valuable as the 1666 first printed Armenian Bible (which was also printed in Amsterdam), it is rarer.
Scholar Haig Utidjian commented, “You are very very fortunate to have found this, James. To my mind this is by far the most precious Armenian item in your collection I have seen. Hand-coloured exemplars are especially rare. I talk about one in my 2016 book but yours are finer and more consistent.
The hymnal is remarkable – tiny but beautifully clear – including the neumatic notation. Indeed, it was a marvelous achievement, inter alia, for its disentanglement of interconnected neumes, drawn up by scribes, and here reduced to individual components by the editors. (But no discernible relation to Middle Byzantine neumes.) Well done! I want to see this in the flesh, one day! Guard it with your life!”
Scholar Elisabeth Z Pehlivanian commented, “An incredible treasure! I’m a bit taken back by the presence of the Hebrew letters and Latin inscriptions? Although the khazakroutiounes are indicative of the Armenian scales, it’s also fascinating to see illustrations with the European notes. I wonder if Van Sichem’s fascinating mixture/representation of different cultures, instruments, costumes, etc. juxtaposed with magnificent Armenian illuminations makes this book a unique specimen. Definitely a bridge to the Armenian Catholic Church. No wonder it was used by both the Armenian Orthodox and Catholic sects. Thank you for acquiring it.”