From an Armenian colophon: on study, expertise, and enjoyment   1 comment

In the excellent introduction to his collection of Armenian colophon extracts translated into English, A.K. Sanjian shares the following bit from a 14th century (1357) colophon in a manuscript of a grammatical text:

As it is impossible for the birds to pull a yoke and make a furrow, and for the oxen to fly, so also no one can attain mastery in the great art of manuscript production without studying it. And should anyone be audacious enough to engage [in this art without studying it], he will fail, and he will corrupt the art and adulterate the text, like the stupid . . . butcher who cannot distinguish the joints [of the animal] and unskillfully cuts the meat from the limbs . . . For in the hands of a foolish and stupid man this [art] is like a pearl on the nose of a pig or like a golden necklace around the neck of a donkey; but he who is intoxicated with its love, he alone appreciates its sweetness.

So go, study, be intoxicated, and appreciate the sweetness!


Avedis K. Sanjian, Colophons of Armenian Manuscripts, 1301-1480: A Source for Middle Eastern History (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), 16.

L.S. Xač’ikyan, XIV Dari Hayeren Jeṙagreri Hišatakaranner [Colophons of Armenian Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century] (Erevan, 1950), no. 510, pp. 426-427.

One response to “From an Armenian colophon: on study, expertise, and enjoyment

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  1. Very nice. Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom!

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