This double page spread of the Bible of Yerevan (1338), on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Armenia! show, features an unusual image of the medieval artist at work.  At bottom left we see Sargis Pidzak painting the sponsor of the manuscript Catholicos Hakob II who is seen to the right of Pidzak in his official robes. Above him Saint Matthew is shown starting in on his gospel. (You can click on the picture to enlarge it.)

The manuscript was illuminated and partially written by Pidzak using ink, tempera, and gold on parchment. It normally lives at the Matenadaran, the Mesrop Mashtots Institute-Museum of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan, Armenia.

Mashtots at Matenadaran

Mesrop Mashtots was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet around 405 AD. His alphabet had 36 letters, but others have subsequently been added. There are some references to an Armenian alphabet prior to that, but no survivals have been discovered. The prototype for Mashtots’ alphabet is debated. According to Wikipedia, “Pahlavi [a Middle Iranian script] was the priestly script in Armenia before the introduction of Christianity, and Syriac, along with Greek, was one of the alphabets of Christian scripture. Armenian shows some similarities to both. However, the general consensus is that Armenian is modeled after the Greek alphabet.” Below is the ISO transliteration of the modern Armenian alphabet.

Bookbinder Jeff Peachey has a post about the Met exhibition with more pictures of books and book-related objects. The Armenia! exhibition closed on 19 January.

Another scribe may be seen at my earlier post Eadwine.