Urbatagirk: The First Printed Book in the Armenian Language


Urbatagirk (Armenian: Ուրբաթագիրք), also known as “The Book of Friday,” holds the distinction of being the first printed book in the Armenian language. Hakob Meghapart printed the book in Venice, Italy, in 1512. Its content includes both religious and secular elements, featuring remedies and prayers for the sick, ancient writings, myths, extensive quotations from Grigor Narekatsi’s Book of Lamentations, the Prayer of Cyprianos of Antioch, and the story of the Virgin and Justinian, among others.

Comprising 62 sheets (124 unnumbered pages) printed in red and black ink, Urbatagirk also contains 24 illustrations. The typeface was designed to emulate manuscript writing, with red ink used at the beginning and in specific sections throughout the book. The text is written in bologir (cursive) style in Classical Armenian. The illustrations consist of repurposed woodcuts originally created for European publications, modified in some instances to appear more Armenian, such as adding black hoods to Catholic priests to resemble Armenian clergy.

Copies of Urbatagirk can be found at the National Library of Armenia and the Mekhitarist Congregation at San Lazzaro degli Armeni near Venice.

Urbatagirk: The First Printed Book in the Armenian Language

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