The twelve peoples with writing systems, according to a 15th-cent. Armenian manuscript   4 comments

The fifteenth century manuscript, Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia (ACC, Antelias, Lebanon) № 119, contains a large number of short texts, mostly anonymous, on theological and philosophical topics. One such short text (f. 350v), not really theological or philosophical, is a chart that lists the nations said to have a writing system. As the title indicates, there were supposed to be twelve, but the scribe only found eleven, as his concluding note says. In addition to the ethnonyms, to the right of each name is a number, which seems to be the number of letters thought to be in the writing system, although these are not altogether reliable. A similar text is published in Michael E. Stone, Armenian Apocrypha Relating to Adam & Eve, Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 14 (Leiden, 1996), p. 163 (see p. 159 for more), but that text has a different list of peoples and different preceding and concluding remarks, nor is the number of letters for each script given.

ACC 119, f. 350v

ACC 119, f. 350v

So the text is:

Յաղագս բժ ազգացդ որ գիր ունին

Եբրայեցի գիրն իդ

Յունացն իբ

Հոռոմոցն իբ

Ասորոցն իբ

Հայոցն լզ

Աղ<ո>ւանն ժբ

Վրացին իէ

Եգիպտացին է

Հնդիկն թ

Տաճկացն իը

Թաթարին իա

Զմի ազգ չգտայ որ գրել էի

English translation:

On the Twelve Peoples that Have Writing

Hebrew writing 24

[The writing] of the Greeks 22

[The writing] of the  Romans 22

[The writing] of the Syrians 22

[The writing] of the Armenians 36

Albanian [writing] 12

Georgian [writing] 27

Egyptian [writing] 7

Indian [writing] 9

[The writing] of the Turks 28

Tatar [writing] 21

I did not find one people group which I was to write.

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4 responses to “The twelve peoples with writing systems, according to a 15th-cent. Armenian manuscript

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  1. What’s the difference between “Turk” and “Tatar” writing?

    • Good question. The ethnonym translated “Turk” is not very specific, just like “Turk” sometimes in older writing in English and other languages: in view here might be a Turkic language, but perhaps even Persian or Arabic. “Tatar” most likely refers to Mongolian.

  2. Interesting! I am writing an article on the diffusion in Syriac of lists of peoples descended from the sons of Noah who knew writing. Interesting to see that the Armenians had a similar interest. Thuis list is very different though. I am curious about the list published by Stone…

  3. Pingback: A short scholion on Scylla and Hydra in Armenian | hmmlorientalia

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