Mashtots and Me

The Armenian alphabet, legend has it, was invented by a monk named Mesrop Mashtots (Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց, მესროპ მაშტოც). Legend also has it that Mesrop Mashtots invented the Georgian alphabet and the Caucasian Albanian alphabet as well. I don’t believe that second part of the legend, and even the details of the first part are iffy. But regardless of the particulars, the Caucasus is a grammatological wonder, and Mesrop Mashtots stands as an avatar for its diversity of scripts. So if you love different alphabets — and I do — you have to love Mesrop Mashtots. With this in mind, I made it a goal on my recent trip to Armenia to take pictures with as many statues of Mesrop Mashtots as I could. I didn’t get all of them, but I got a few. Here they are. [Note: Not long ago I started using an image-editing program. I may have gone past the bounds of good taste in some places.]

The most dramatic of all Mesrop Mashtots statues is the one in front of the Matenadaran, a.k.a. the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan. Around five meters tall (15-20 ft.), it shows Mesrop sitting stately with Koriun, his loving student and biographer, kneeling by his side.

mesrop mashtots matenadaran statue

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Svan Songs

Svan Songs is the first solo album by Georgian musician Irakli Charkviani. The album, the subtitle of which is Music from Kaukasus, was recorded in Cologne, Germany and released in 1993.That’s pretty much all I know about it in the way of background, since little has been written on it in Georgian and even less in English. Knowing nothing else extrinsic to the music, I’ll settle here for going through the album track by track and giving lyrics, comments, and discussion questions.

charkviani svan songs cover

As far as I can tell, Svan Songs was only ever released (not including best-ofs or other compilations) on cassette tape. That tape is apparently quite rare. I’ve only been able to find pictures of it on this blog, and that blog has added an unpleasant watermark to all of them. I removed it from this picture.

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