[ALLURING EARLY COSTUME BOOK BY THE FIRST MODERN ARMENIAN GEOGRAPHER / VENETIAN MEKHITARIST IMPRINT] Yeghanak Biwzandian Bazmavep [i.e., The Byzantine Tune of the Season] [and bound with] Droshakk' amenayn terut'eanc [i.e., Flags of all nations]

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INCICIAN, LUCAS [LUKAS INCICHEAN – INCICEAN; or GHUKAS INCIGEAN], Mkhitʻarean Miabanutʻiwn i Venedig [i.ei., The Mekhitarist Press], Venedig [Venice], 1813-1815.

COMPLETE TITLE: [ALLURING EARLY COSTUME BOOK BY THE FIRST MODERN ARMENIAN GEOGRAPHER / VENETIAN MEKHITARIST IMPRINT] Եղանակ Բիւզանդիան Բազմավեպ / Yeghanak Biwzandian Bazmavep [i.e., The Byzantine Tune of the Season] [and bound with] Droshakk' amenayn terut'eanc [i.e., Flags of all nations].

Fine contemporary full dark brown calf with gilt borders of the boards and spine with floral decorations, a red morocco label on spine in Armenian including title and date. All edges gilt. 12mo. (15 x 9 cm). In Armenian. [4], 260; [4], 16 numbered hand-coloured and b/w engraved plates: with an engraved frontispiece; one engraved plate (lacking one), 14 engraved hand-coloured costumes plates; (lacking one folding hand-coloured plate), and two folding tables. With several engraved pictorial headpieces and numerous tailpieces. Occasionally, foxing on pages, fading on spine label, one plate’s upper corner is restored skilfully. Several markings on engraved frontispiece in ink. Overall, a very good copy lacking two plates.

First and only edition of this highly uncommon and richly illustrated book with very attractive hand-coloured costume plates, written by the Mekhitarist father considered the first modern Armenian geographer, bound with “flags of the nations", including 15 attractive plates of hand-coloured national flags.

This fine early 19th-century imprint is one of the earliest books of historical geography printed in Armenian, describing world geography with tables and beautiful colour plates of costumes. This is also one of the most beautiful costume books in Armenian literature. The second book contains colour plates of 102 flags of nations.


The Mechitarists officially named the Benedictine Congregation of the Mechitarists (Latin: Benedictina Congregatio Mechitarista) abbreviated CAM is an Armenian Catholic Church monastic order of Pontifical Right for men founded in 1701 by Abbot Mekhitar of Sebaste (Mkhitar Sebastatsi). They are best known for their series of scholarly publications of ancient Armenian versions of otherwise lost ancient Greek texts and their research on classical and modern Armenian languages. They follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. The congregation was long divided into two branches, with the respective motherhouses being in Venice and Vienna.

When Mekhitar of Sebaste, born in 1676, founded his congregation in Constantinople on September 8, 1701, he certainly had not the faintest notion that he would one day become one of the most important persons of Armenian cultural history. Mekhitar and his fellows soon left the Ottoman Empire and founded a monastery in Methoni at the southwestern point of the Peloponnese, which was then Venetian. Even at that time, they adopted the Benedictine rule and Pope Clement XI confirmed them officially as Benedictines. Since then, the Mekhitarists have been properly called “Armenian Benedictines”. But Methoni fell to the Sultan, the monks followed the withdrawing Venetians and finally received from the duke one of the little islands in the laguna of Venice. There at San Lazzaro, they built their monastery which is a property of the congregation to this day.

In 1773 a group of the Mekhitarists separated from Venice and opened a new monastery in Trieste, which then belonged to the Habsburgs. With her privilege from May 30, 1775, Empress Maria Theresa permitted them to establish their monastery and church as well as to run their printing shop. When in 1805 Trieste was occupied by the French the Triestine Mekhitarists lost all their property because they were seen as Habsburg subjects. Whereas Napoleon was favourable to the Venetian brothers, the Triestine congregation had to leave Triest and seek refuge in imperial Vienna.

Sources: Hewsen, Robert H.: The Geography of Ananias of Sirak (ASXARHACOYC)., Mechitaristen online., Nersessian 309., The sole copy in the OCLC (1055969209) is in the University of Manchester Library, not in North American libraries.